The above sketch is of the Hermitage Playing field from the Sheepbridge Lane end of Cinderella’s Walk, looking toward Hermitage lane. It became the relaxation park to many of the local residents in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Sandwiches and a Bottle of Water
To us it had everything to free our minds and worries of Wartime Mansfield. Being 80 miles from the sea, very few of us had ever seen the seaside, and this was a substitute for us. Thick sandwiches and a bottle of water was all we required for our days enjoyment. The river Maun and a fishing net at that time in our lives was all that was required to keep us happy for the day. Although most folk were poor, there was an abundance of lovely places to visit, and best of all they were free.
The Big House
Crossing the wooden bridge of Cinderella’s Walk over Sheepbridge Lane you pass through a pedestrian gate, one of the gates you have to step into, then close it to step out. At the side of the gate was a beautiful old house surrounded by a lovely old stone wall. This was at one end of a small lane, Reed Mill was at the other. My father when I was young, was big friends of the White’s family who used to reside in the big house, and would often take us there to visit. They were lovely people.
Cottages with a View
Straight across from the end of Cinderella’s Walk was a narrow pathway that lead to the playing field style. The pathway was about 200 yards in length. Firstly on the left there were half a dozen cottages that stood back with their gardens at the front. These cottages had the most glorious views over two Dams, the River Maun, and the fields and hills of Bleakhills. They also had a vista view of the Railway Line that weaved it’s way through Bleakhills. I knew and played with some of the children who lived in the stone built cottages. Between the cottages and the stone wall that bordered the Hermitage was a large field that was ploughed and set by the Farmer. It was a lovely sight seeing the tractor ploughing the field, and then the the crops growing to ripeness. As with all the soil around Mansfield, it was a fertile growing area.
Bad Mans Road
On the right of the sketch was what we as children knew as Bad Man’s Road, why it was called that I have no idea, I guess there must have been a reason somewhere along the line. The road took you to Hermitage Lane and Eden’s Mill. At the rear of Eden’s Mill there was another dam that had the river Maun running along the side of it. The dam must have been kept topped up when required by the river Maun. Along that part of the river I remember there being a few Hazel Trees where we used to collect Hazel nuts. And where the River Maun ran under Hermitage Lane Bridge, there was a stone walkway allowing you to walk under the road.
To the right of the road known as Bad Man’s Road, ran the L.M.S. line to Nottingham and Stations between. On this line there are two low bridges, one over Sheepbridge, and one over Hermitage Lane.On several occasions in our modern times I have seen high vehicles damaged going under the bridges. As a youngster I once saw a double decker bus take it’s top clean off going under the bridge on Hermitage Lane. Luckily the bus was empty..
Home Made Fishing Nets
The River Maun ran all along the bottom valley of the Hermitage playing field, ideal for a cooling off period after running around on a hot day. Paddling and Fishing were lovely past-times. We made our own fishing nets by using the tops of a pair of old lyle stockings by cutting them off near the tops, tying the bottom into a knot, a piece of wire threaded through the top, stick the wire ends into a piece of cane, and Bobs your uncle, you have a fishing net, and saved yourself sixpence. I’m sure at times there were as many folk on the Hermitage as there were on Titchfield Park.
Looking at the sketch, the large hill in the background is where all the excavations of the Reservoir were tipped to form the hill.
I and others, look back to when we were young, and cannot recognise the Mansfield we knew. The fields of Mansfield have all but disappeared along with the beauty. How thankful I am to be in my eightieth year, and very grateful to my parents for choosing Mansfield to set up home.