Information boards bring Radcliffe’s history to life

Board displayed at the entrance to the Manvers Arms on the wall between the pub and Manor House

Click on boards to enlarge

Radcliffe on Trent has recently installed fourteen history and wildlife information boards around the village, soon to be followed by an accompanying walking trail leaflet. The project has involved collaboration between Radcliffe on Trent Parish Council and three of the village’s community groups: the Local History Society, the Conservation Volunteers and the WW1 group. The £16,800 scheme was supported by a £10,000 grant from Nottinghamshire County Council‘s Local Improvement Scheme.

Radcliffe is an expanding village where a thousand much needed new houses are being built. Once occupied, the population will increase significantly and the shape of the village will change. Both newcomers and established residents will be able to learn about the history of their village through these information boards, see how much has changed in recent years and what remains the same.

Marion Caunt, a local history society and WW1 group member, provided text and images for the history boards. She received a community award at the Annual Parish meeting, April 2019, for her industrious work on the project. David Barton, former chairman of Radcliffe Parish Council, edited her material for the boards. Rosemary Collins from the WW1 group and Philip Taylor from the Conservation Group produced the Rockley Memorial Park and the lily ponds boards respectively. Graphic designer Nigel Cook designed all the boards and Graham Fowell created a related ‘cartoon’ village map, now displayed on the back of the village notice board outside the post office.

Unveiling the village information boards, April 2019
From left to right, front row: Councillor Georgia Moore, Councillor Sue Clegg, Councillor Kay Cutts, MBE, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council; Marion Caunt, local historian, Dr Rosemary Collins, WW1 Group and Jacki Grice, clerk to Radcliffe Parish Council.
Back row, left to right: David Barton, Chairman of Radcliffe Parish Council Councillor Graham Budsworth and Nigel Cook, graphic designer.
Group are standing in front of the Grange board; image from the West Bridgford Wire, 20 April 2019

The boards embrace the history of Radcliffe from the eighteenth century onwards. They not only provide an overview of key features but also reveal what the village was like at the time of the First World War. Most Radcliffe WW1 servicemen would have been familiar with the landmarks displayed, from the old village school to St Mary’s Church, the pubs and big houses occupied by the gentry. Many servicemen were baptised and married in Radcliffe and were later laid to rest in the local cemetery. Some lived in the more affluent houses displayed; most lived in working class areas which are also shown. The men would have taken ferries from Wharf Lane, trains from the railway station and some also worked at Notts County Asylum at Saxondale, all of which are described on the boards.

The following list shows the location of the boards, noting their relevance to WW1.

Main Road (East) by Walker’s Yard, near Tesco

The old village school, which many WW1 servicemen attended, is shown on this board. Several servicemen lived on the streets described: Bingham Road, Lorne Grove, Station Terrace and Walkers Yard. Some would have enjoyed a drink at the Black Lion, pictured.

Main Road (West) centre of the village, next to the village sign

Lamcote House, home of Colonel and Mrs Birkin, was converted into an auxiliary hospital for officers in 1918. It is shown on this board together with a photograph of Mount Pleasant, one of the poorest areas of the village. Seven men from the street who enlisted in WW1 lost their lives. Other significant buildings and areas are also shown.

Radcliffe Cemetery, situated at the cemetery entrance on Vicarage Lane

There are sixteen WW1 Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery as well as two civilian graves and two commemorative headstones. Servicemen who fell in the Second World War are also commemorated. The board gives an overview of the cemetery’s history.

The Grange and former village school by the Vicarage Lane bus stop

The Grange, now a community centre, was the home of the Haynes family in WW1. William Haynes became an officer in the Royal Field Artillery and his sisters Charlotte and Emma worked as Red Cross nurses. Shortly after the war it became the home of Gerald and Hilda Dowson; she was a local suffragist. The board also shows the original village school which was converted to a social club for servicemen while on leave or recovering from wounds and illnesses during WW1.

St. Mary’s Church and Radcliffe Hall (British Legion) on wall between the two buildings

St Mary’s Church saw baptisms, weddings and military funerals during the war years while Radcliffe Hall, the oldest dwelling in the village, was used as a convalescent hospital. After the war, veterans used to meet there for British Legion meetings; the hall became the official home of the Royal British Legion in the early 1950s.

Canadian Estate by the totem pole in the Grange grounds

The Canadian estate was built in the 1950s to house Canadian airmen who were stationed nearby. During its time in Radcliffe, the Canadian Airforce made a significant contribution to village life including building a secondary school. But at the time of the First World War the land where the estate now stands was used mainly for farming. Some Radcliffe servicemen lived around the perimeter of what is now the estate. Those with homes on Water Lane, Hogg Lane and Bailey Lane would have lived close to the fields which have since been covered by houses.

The Manor House and the Manvers Arms, located on wall adjoining the pub and Manor House (see photograph at top of article)

The Manvers Arms played a significant role as a place for meetings and auctions from the nineteenth century onwards. The Bell family ran it for several years and two of their members, Sydney Bell and Edward Upton Bell who had lived there, lost their lives from illnesses after fightingin WW1.They are both remembered on Radcliffe war memorial.

Wharf Lane by the car park

At the turn of the century Wharf Lane was a popular meeting spot for young people from Radcliffe. However, the swift flowing River Trent always posed a danger to swimmers. In 1910 fifteen year old Jack Barry rescued Oswald Bolton from drowning and was awarded a gold medal for his bravery. Jack went on to be wounded at the Somme but survived. Oswald served with the Australian Imperial Force in the reserves; his brother Cecil Bolton was killed in 1918.

Rockley Memorial Park in the pavilion

Rockley Memorial Park was created by Mr Lisle Rockley in memory of his son William and Radcliffe servicemen who lost their lives in WW1. The board acknowledges his gift to the village. It describes the park’s creation, alongside photographs of the Rockley family and the park in the 1920s.

Cliff Top and Lily ponds by entrance to Rockley Memorial Park from the cliffs

Lisle Rockley purchased the cliffs and woodlands as part of the memorial area so that it could be enjoyed by the village in perpetuity. He arranged for a mile long promenade, known as the Cliff Top, to be laid out above the cliffs. Conservation work carried out by volunteers takes place regularly on the cliffs and at the lily ponds below. The board displays flora and fauna found by conservationists.

Railway Station at Shelford Road entrance

This board describes the history of the station from 1850 onwards. During WW1 many local employees enlisted and the staff was depleted. Gladys Breedon took over the job of railway porter. Most former employees returned to their old jobs when the war was over including Herbert Flower and Walter and Wilfred Houseley. Ex-serviceman Harry Bakewell died in 1922 after falling from a signal standard. Today a voluntary group, the Friends of Radcliffe Station, have done much to improve the station’s appearance, including creating a wild flower bank.

Harlequin at Bingham Road and A52 junction

Men from the Harlequin who lost their lives in WW1 included Frank Daniels and George Brewster, both of whom were killed in 1916. Other men from this area, where market gardeners ran their businesses, survived the war and returned.

Dewberry Hill 

Upper Saxondale near the chapel

Notts County Asylum at Upper Saxondale sent over forty members of staff to serve in the Great War. It became a temporary war hospital from 1918 – 1919 and treated over a thousand servicemen suffering from war trauma.

Rosemary Collins