Dam Head Cottages

Special thanks to Brian Poole for his permission to use this photograph . The  cottages  stood at the head of Bleakhills Dam , Mansfield.  The photograph appeared in the local Mansfield paper, and was purchased by Brian’s father from the newspaper many years ago, long before they were demolished.

As a youngster growing up, I knew this area of Mansfield very well and spent many happy times growing up in the lanes and fields . Walking, fishing, playing, exploring, and yes, even swimming.

The larger of the two dams was called Reed Mill Dam, and the other dam, being at the side of Bleakhills, was called Bleakhills Dam. Our Ancestors were extremely clever at making very good use of the river we had been blessed with in Mansfield, the damming of the river Maun in several places helped our industries immensely.

Dam Head Cottages were in no way unique. Cottages like these were replicated throughout Mansfield, it was where Dam Head Cottages were situated that made them special. Mansfield , being the Industrial town it was at the time, was rich in stone from the many quarries in the area. This stone was used to build many stone houses of this nature. Blocks of stone cottages were dotted all over Mansfield. I can recall two further blocks on Sheepbridge Lane, one on Hermitage Lane, the Byron Yard, Quarry lane. Wood Court had several and so did Newgate Lane.

There were four cottages in the making up of Dam Head Cottages. I can only tell you of how it was in the 30’s and the war years that followed. I do remember the Allen family, living in the end house. I remember Jack and Tommy Allen.They both attended Moor Lane School, and I believe Rosemary School.  Tommy would be about 84 now, and Jack a little older.

The cottages were in one of the most beautiful of places in our town,  A stream running by, a lake of water in front of them, fish, wildfow, swans and birds of all kinds. A country lane also passing the front, horses in the two fields either side of the country lane, and a short walk further along the lane was farmland that produced all kinds of corn and different foods.

Just to add, the dam that is known to all as Reed Mill Dam, Was also called Bleakhills Dam around the mid 19th century. Adding to the facts that at one time , the dam was one huge dam I have been given an old picture showing the dam in front of Matlock Mill with the caption calling the waters Bleakhills .

To the far side of the cottages , out of view, was another smaller dam of water, being fed by the Cauldwell Stream. Many is the time the waters used to overflow down the small pathway, causing the land to the front of the cottages to become an area of swampland. The river continued past the cottages, then being piped under Bleakhills Lane and alongside the Bleakhills Dam.

It was with much sadness that I drove down Harvey’s Lane last year. The old cottages had gone, the area all round was fenced off, including the dam.  Gone are the horses playing and grazing in the field.


Comments about this page

  • Some family connections on here! Linda Thorpe`s dad Tommy Allen was my mother Margaret`s brother and I just about remember Dolores. I remember Grandma Allen`s cottage was very draughty and the windows rattled with the wind. I can also remember her dog, Queenie. I also seem to remember one of the neighbours` sons drowning in the lake. Grandma moved to Moor Street when they pulled the cottages down and Queenie must have died as I remember she had a different dog then called Jonah.
    Of the five Allen siblings (Tom, Edie, Margaret, Jack and Eric}, only Eric is still with us unfortunately.

    By Dave Hickman (13/11/2023)
  • My mother lived on Cinderella Walk in the railway cottages the entrance was on the walkway. Her family name was Chapman, grandpa was a retired plate layer. The cottages belonged to the LMS and were tied cottages for the workers, the family left the house in the early 60s

    By Malcolm Martin (19/02/2021)
  • My daughter, myself and grandson went for a walk down Bleakhills Lane today, I was trying to show her where the cottages used to be, as I played down there as a child.
    Tommy Allen was my dad and I remember the cottages fondly, I used to hate the outside toilet though. I just had to see if I could find any old photos of the cottages to show her and came across this page, how lovely to see my dad and Uncle Jack being remembered. Thank you xx

    By Linda Thorpe (14/07/2020)
  • In reply to your very good article re Bleakhills cottages
    I am the grandson of Richard Wilson of Bradder Street, my mum being Dolores and I was the idiot who was run over by the Landers van lol.
    My mum married Tom Allen when I was one year old so I remember these old homes very well as my step gran and grandad lived there. That photo brings it all back. Happy days.

    By Michael Wilson (08/04/2019)
  • In reply to Alan’s memories – it was also a place full of memories for my husband.  I wonder how many of you remember him as I believe he was something of a mischief maker (Max Mason).  He lived on High Oakham Hill so didn’t have far to go to get up to mischief.  

    Touching on the rest of Mansfield, I left in 1973 but come back to visit my sister.  Last Monday we did a nostalgia trip around Mansfield, both of us born in the 1940’s the trip was a sad one.  Mansfield was such a busy, buzzing town in our teens. Now it is like many other towns missing something.   The best part of our visit was to the new Stateside 50’s Diner at the bottom of White Hart St.  Over our coffees listening to the rock & roll (even giving the staff an impromptu jive) we reminisced -The Palais Wed. night and Sunday afternoon. Parochial Hall, Brunts St. Sutton Hop, Bentinck Café.  Oh! yes they were the days my friend.

    By Val Mason (17/04/2015)
  • I’m so sorry, but I omitted to say that the picture of Dam Head Cottages shows the rear of the cottages. The doors are the back doors to the houses, with two rear entrance doors to the back yards and small gardens either side. I believe the outside toilets and coal houses can also be seen. The camera man would have stood on the hills at the rear of High Oakham Hill, being the Bleakhills side of High Oakham Hill.  To the left of the picture is the smaller dam that was fed by the waters from Cauldwell Dam. The side that we cannot see, being the front, faced the Bleakhills Dam, and the ground being lower, often caused the small woodland in front of the cottages to hold water turning the woodland into a swamp like area.

    By alan curtis (15/04/2015)

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