Evacuated to Mansfield Woodhouse

Mansfield Woodhouse Station circa 1875
Museum Collection

I was 9 years old, and my sister Joyce 6 when we were evacuated from Southend on Sea, it was Sunday 2 June 1940,  (when Dunkirk was at its height), and we arrived at Mansfield Woodhouse station early afternoon. We were marched down Station Hill, past allotments (Bedstead Alley) to Oxclose Lane School.

We were selected by Mr and Mrs Cooke of Sunnydale Poultry Farm, Shirebrook Lane, and found ourselves in heaven – a farm with chickens, pigs, geese and fields all round. Nearby was a quarry and the railway, and a field with cows, and Parmenter’s farm.


One of the first things that the local people did was to organise a picnic to Garibaldi Wood also known as ‘Packer’s Puzzle’, on Peafield Lane. Does anyone know the origin of either of these names? This was a very exciting and enjoyable day.


We were soon merged into classes at Oxclose Lane School (me) and the National School, Welbeck Road (my sister). The teachers there were Mr Bateman, Mr Lucas, Miss Keetley, Miss Brown, Miss Chapman, and the Headmaster, Mr W.A.C. James, as well as evacuated Southend teachers, Miss Spilke and Miss Whisker). Mr Bateman was tough but a good pianist and I learnt to love all the national songs. He taught us several poems which I still love.

On the Move

Later, things went wrong at the farm and we were moved around, first to Mr and Mrs Owen at 15, Tennyson Avenue, then to Mr and Mrs Collier at 44, Stainforth St. and finally to Mr and Mrs Marchant at 6, Coke St. (now stupidly renamed New Haven Avenue). Harry Marchant was a marvellous chap, who worked permanent nights at Cresswell Colliery. He had a narrow escape serving in France in the Great War, and survived the Cresswell Colliery disaster of 1950.

Boy Scouts

I was active in the boy scouts. The Rev Frampton (Frambo) of St John’s was an important figure here and so was a certain Mr Greensmith. At first I was with the 6th Mansfield group which was based at the church by the cattle market. The scout leader was Russell Yeomans and his brother from Forest Town.


We went on a camp in 1943 on a site near Papplewick (but on the opposite side of the Nottingham-Mansfield road). One of our co-campers was the son of Dr Tweedie who lived in the big house near Crown Farm (Sherwood Hall – is it still there?). Tweedie was related to the actor Victor McLaglan. Later I was with the 4th Mansfield Woodhouse troop based on St Edmunds. I forget the name of the leader but he lived at Park Hall. One of his friends was a certain Wallace Stringfellow. We used to meet in the chapel at the bottom of Sherwood Street on the railway side.

Sunday School

I never went in St Edmunds church but did go to Sunday School in Turners Memorial Hall. I was aware of the St Edmunds football team. One of the stars was Charlie Anners – known as ‘Wag’, as were all people named Charles. Is that still the case?

Paper Boy

I used to deliver papers for Lees in Welbeck Rd. All the way up Warsop Rd as far as Churchmans’s tannery factory. Mr Lee was a very nice man. The shop continued under the name Lee for some years after his death, but later changed name and is now no longer a newspaper shop. I also delivered for the shop at the bottom of Mansfield Hill by the railway bridge. I forget the owners name.


My mother came up to visit us and later died in 1942 of TB and is buried in Mansfield Woodhouse cemetery.

When we first arrived  from Southend the ‘Billeting Officer’ on the council was Mr T.T. (titty) Hudson who lived in St Edmund’s Avenue. He took me and my sister on frequent visits for x-rays to Dr Brown in Hermitage Rd (off Sutton Rd) in view of our mother’s death from TB.

Someone else I remember; ‘Smasher’ Smedley a gifted piano-accordionist.

I have many more memories as I stayed in Woodhouse, with brief interruptions until National Service in 1950.

Comments about this page

  • Ken Smedley, the piano accordion player was my lovely Uncle. It was lovely finding this site. I live in Arizona USA.
    My Mum Irene was Ken’s youngest sister and she passed away in May 2019. She was the last of the seventeen children to pass. They were all beautiful people and I was very blessed to have been part of their family. I had the best Mum and Dad ever and I have lots of lovely memories.

    By Angela Hirst (23/10/2020)
  • Hi my great grandfather was Harry Marchant (my dad Steven Giles’s grandad) and the house what was 6 coke street is still lived in by family (my aunt) . I have loved reading this and was very surprised to see my family mentioned. I will show it my dad as soon as poss as i’m sure he will enjoy reading it too. And thankyou for saying Harry was a lovely chap.

    By Sally Giles (10/01/2018)
  • I would like to hear from any of the descendants of Mr and Mrs Collier of 44 Stainforth Street (in 1941) with whom we were billeted July-December 1941. They had a months old baby son(Tommy or Joey?). Also of Mr and Mrs Owen of 15 Tennyson Avenue April-June1941).

    By Frank Watson (20/07/2017)
  • To anyone who was evacuated from Worthing to Mansfield Woodhouse in June 1940. My Father was one of those and was interested in finding out where he lived. He remembers the family were called Lineker. Does anyone know anything about the family from those days and where they lived. His name is Robin Hewiso.Thank you Richard Hewison

    By Richard Hewison (26/12/2016)
  • Hi Francis, Great comments about Lee’s paper shop on Welbeck Road, I to had a paper round in the early’ 60s and the owner Mr Lee was a great gentleman. I think it was took over by his son Jeff and his wife, happy days of our child hood memories long gone, but nice to turn the clock back.

    By G.Burton former woodus lad (21/08/2016)
  • I was hoping that I would be able to get in contact with Malcom Raynor. I have sat down with my mother today and her memory is fading however she would like to find out more about her Auntie Mary and Uncle Bill and what happened to them??


    Thankyou John Everett

    By John Everett (11/04/2014)
  • I have read a very interesting comment from Malcom Raynor 19/10/12. I live in Australia and my mother her sister and younger brother where evacuated from Worthing to Mansfield Woodhouse, during WW2 .Indeed my mother is the oldest girl in the family and did also migrate to Australia. I have no doubt that she would have tried to stay in touch as she was an avid reader and letter writer. I would like to correspond with Malcom if possible. John Everett 14/04/14

    By John Everett (14/03/2014)
  • Frank Watson!! Ken Smedley, the piano accordian player you remembered in Woodhouse has recently passed away aged 87. R.I.P

    By Tom Shead (28/01/2014)
  • Very interested to read information regarding my Grandfather Bullock. Sadly, he died before I was born so information regarding his life is rather limited.

    By Philip Bullock (27/01/2014)
  • Just scrolling through pages searching for history on my new house and came across this post. Mr and Mrs Collier of 44 Stainforth street were my grandma and grandad!! Sarah and Thomas. I know this post is quite old but if you do happen to come across it again I’d love to hear of your experience while staying with the Colliers. My grandad died before I was born and my grandma died when I was quite young so I don’t know much about them. Thank you

    By Jill walker nee collier (23/06/2013)
  • Hi Frank, The New Inn is still there but I didn’t know they served beer from a jug. The Bullock family also kept the Parliament Oak on Church St but it is now a pharmacy. Did you attend elocution lessons at Oxclose Lane? The party piece was ‘rattle your bottles in Bullocks back yard’. I thought the name Wag was a country wide name for Charles, though you dont hear it now. Nick names appear to be out of vogue now. Mansfield have a John Ogdon memorial concert at the Palace Theatre shortly. Spoke to Bud Friend earlier this week.

    By Tom Shead (29/11/2012)
  • Thank you Tom. Wilsons lived next door to me in Coke St. Husband known as ‘Pussy’. Children Irene (redhead), Alan and another girl. Sam Wood and his wife I knew quite well and I was at the wedding of their daughter. LLoyds shop was a very strange one, full of bottles of curious liquids – sal volatile amongst others. I was familiar with John Ogdon as a pianist long before I discovered the boy Karl was in any way connected. The road to the flood-dykes I often walked with a dog, doing the round trip Peafield Lane and round to Welbeck Road. Is the term ‘Wag’ still in use for Charles? Bedstead Alley was what people in Coke Street called the road through to Oxclose Lane from Station Hill. Harry Marchant worked an allotment there and won several prizes. Do you remember Bullocks pub (New Inn)- they had no pumps and brought the beer up in jugs. Yours, Frank

    By Frank Watson (07/11/2012)
  • Hi Frank, in answer to your queries re Packies Puzzle, there was a Packmans Path from Leeming Lane, Sookholme end which crossed Peafield Lane and went through the woods over the Flood Dykes and River Maun, via the Packman bridges. This path created a shortcut to Nottingham etc avoiding Mansfield. Garabaldi!! not sure of it’s origin but the correct name for the ponds is Spa Ponds. I remember Wag Hannah, rangy built footballer, fast and all round good player. Names on Coke Street – Wilsons, Sticky Wood, Joe Wood. Mansfield Woodhouse Society publish a calender and the 2013 one shows the Loyds shop on the corner of Coke St and Flecher St before demolition in the 1970s. I mentioned your dispatches to the Society, BEDSTEAD ALLEY no one knew it as such, trust an outsider to christen the Paddy Fields as we knew it, but they remember the bedsteads used as fences. My brother David was presented with a book by Miss Spike while he was at Oxclose Lane which I believe is still in the Family. The Young John Ogdon book is by Marjory E Wood who was a pupil of Nellie Housley, you may be able to order it through your library. There is a photo of Karl Ogdon in his Naval Uniform, not sure of the date, 1950s? The Ogdon family moved to Manchester in 1945 for John to attend the School of Music there because he was a child prodigy.

    By Tom Shead (30/10/2012)
  • Mum (Marion) listened to these accounts with interest. She says that Ken Smedley is still around and resides in locally. Ken’s sister was in The Follies, the dancing singing entertainment troop often appearing in Turner Hall.

    By Marion Smedley (28/10/2012)
  • Thank you Marion. I remember Ken as ‘Smasher’ and sometimes he appeared to the odd party somewhere when I lived in Coke St. He was very popular. I am pleased to know he is still around. Does he remember any of the people in Coke Street?. Names such as Marchant, Morley, Mottram, Wood. Later I was a regular at Saturday night dances at Turners, which usually featured a band of brass and keyboard so far as I remember. Y

    By Frank Watson (28/10/2012)
  • Hello Tom. Yes the name was Spike, not Spilke. I will follow up the info you gave. Frank

    By Frank Watson (22/10/2012)
  • Malcolm, I must be going back to my childhood…. My Box of Matches, My Pint of Beer, Please don’t take my Woodbine away.. I must be in my second childhood, but anything to Help. Alan

    By Alan Curtis (19/10/2012)
  • My Aunt and Uncle Lived on Tennyson Avenue and they had two girls and their brother being evacuees from Worthing. My uncle worked at the Brick Yard opposite Sherwood Colliery. I cannot remember their names but one of the girls went to Australia, wether the family did I do not know. After then they kept in touch. My memory fails me from those years but one thing always stayed in my mind they sang a song with different lyrics, the tune was ‘You Are My Sunshine’ but the lyrics became ‘You Are My Woodbine, My Willie Woodbine, My Packet Of Players My Craven A ??????? ???????’ I often think of the song but cannot remember the rest, HELP! it was one of those one remembers. Apart from my recollections they seemed a happy bunch though they were obviously homesick at times. After the war they certainly expressed their gratitude, the eldest girl sent my Aunty Mary regular letters and later cheques unfortunately drawn on an Austrailian Bank which she could not cash locally, apart from that it was a rarity for ordinary people to have a bank account then, not like the present time.

    By Malcolm Raynor (18/10/2012)
  • Hi Francis and Tom, Very interesting comment’s and I really enjoyed reading them. Straight after my square bashing in 1953 my parents moved to Shoeburyness, so I can claim some Essex connection. My evacuation experience was from Worthing,Sussex, to Forest Town But compared to Francis I was very much a part-timer with only a year under my belt. CGP987

    By Bill Clark (16/10/2012)
  • Hi Francis, good to read your Oxclose Lane memories. Some of the teachers you mentioned were there when I went there in 1944. WAC James the Headmaster was a surly miserable article but I believe his son was killed during the war in the RAF. The name Miss Spike, you have written Spilke, is it a typo? I have heard this name from my elder brothers and sister who are about your age and attended Oxclose Lane Juniors. Woodhouse has a quarterly newsletter called the Woodhouse Warbler which you can download. Just google Woodhouse Warbler and download the December 2011 edition, turn to page 7 and you will see a photo of the Gaytime Follies concert with Ken Smedley playing the accordian. If you use the magnification button you may recognise other kids on the photo. There are about 12 years of the Warbler to download and should keep you occupied for the next few months!

    By Tom Shead (15/10/2012)

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