The name Quarry Lane appears from time to time on the site and it does have a lot of history, so I would like you to accompany me on a trip down memory lane.
Quarry lane did lead to two sand quarries, and a stone quarry. The whole length of the lane stretches from Portland Street to Sheepbridge Lane. Probably the odd thing about it was, the lane only had one causeway, (kerb, pavement or walkway) call it what you may, and that was along the right of the lane from Portland Street, and right up to Sheepbridge Lane. All the ground to the right of Quarry Lane was much higher than on the left, that is because of the valley of the river Maun where the river meanders it’s way through the lowlands of Mansfield. Everything built on the lane up to Sibthorpe Street was made of stone, not surprising really with the number of stone quarries in the area. Since the late 1930’s, I have walked, cycled, played, and driven along Quarry Lane.
The lane starts from Saint Marks Church and the Henley Hall with a stone wall either side of the road. Quarry Lane was a little more than a slight incline up to the entrance to Mansfield Town Football Club. On the corner, over the wall on the left hand side, was the Imperial Laundry. and next to that, also over the wall, the Field Mill Dam, which also housed the largest Water-Wheel in the country at that time. I believe this was dismantled around the early part of the 20th century, after the closure of the Field Mill factory. This factory was eventually taken over, and became the home of a company named Coobrey’s. It was in the Wood and Upholstery business and went under the trade name of Field Mill Upholstery. One could always hear the wood cutting machines during working hours. On the right hand side at the beginning of Quarry Lane was a stone building of a religious ownership, this may have faced Portland Street. A very large house, with a very large entrance was the first house at the bottom right, this was later to become a Social Club for the football supporters.
I cannot write of this area without mentioning the old stone horse trough that stood on Nottingham Road at the entrance to the Imperial Laundry. (I wonder what happened to it)??
The Football Ground
Next, there was a large gate which lead to the only seating area at the Mansfield Town football ground for the better off folk who could afford to sit down and watch the game! The seats were not the bucket type seats of today, but stepped, wooden bench seats in long rows on concrete steps. Next to this was the building where the players and directors, and any opposing teams went through the front doors. At the side of this building was the wide area which lead to the main gates with turn-styles to the main standing areas. Football in those days did not have the kind of money that is splashed around today. Although their wages were a lot higher than that of a working man, even in those days..They were not in full time employment, but if they played and won, they received £23, If they drew, £21, and if they lost they received £20 Across from the football ground, the high stone wall continued.
On the same side as the football ground, and a little further along Quarry Lane, there was a block of stone terraced houses, about six cottage type houses in total. They were two stories of two up two down. There was a passageway in the middle of the block that took you to the rear of the houses where the small gardens ,and a bank of outside toilets stood. The back door went into a small but cosy kitchen/living room. An old rocking chair by the fire, and a small but very handy dining table would compliment the room! On match days, the people who went on their bikes to the match, would leave them at the rear of the stone houses, and for the cost of an old 1d[one penny]. The bikes would be safe when they returned. A lady and her two daughters whose surname name was Thompson, lived in one of the stone cottages. Come to think of it, there were many of this kind of stone housing blocks throughout Mansfield.
Quarry Lane divides into two lanes
About 100yds further along, Quarry Lane narrowed, and divided into two separate lanes. The road to the left was an unmade road. The high stone wall had become much lower and had round iron rails, three bars high built on top of the much lower wall. Over the rails was a drop of about 12 feet, and then an embankment down to the river Maun. The unmade road continued under one of the arches of the spur viaduct that came from the main line from close to the old Co-op Dairy and the Mansfield Railway Station. The viaduct was of a beautiful design of bridges, all built of stone. Continuing along the unmade road under the viaduct, and on the right was a gate which lead you to the river Maun, which at this point went underneath the road and weaved it’s way down to Field Mill Dam.
The gate was also security for the huts and styles that were under two or more of the arches. They were owned by ” Shoggy ” Green, who lived near the bottom of Bradder St. It was here where he kept his horse and dray, and also his pigs and hens. They were very much sheltered in the Hollow.
Continuing along this road would take you past ” Fatty Man’s Bank It was at this point that once again you passed under another viaduct.This viaduct line was another offshoot line from the main Mansfield, Nottingham line , via Sutton Junction. The spur line was from the rear of the Engine Sheds, and this spur line was crossed by a pedestrian crossing of Cinderella’s Walk. The two viaducts met and joined further down the lines nearer to Nottingham road. After passing under the bridge of this second viaduct, the road then again forked. The left fork leading to Matlock Avenue, the right fork leading down past another block of seven stone cottages on the right, that had the backs of the houses at the side of the river Maun. They had raised front gardens at the front ,across the unmade road. The road eventually ended in the Lord Byron Yard, where the old Pub stood in the left hand corner, attached to another three terraced houses, this time 3 story stone Houses , which were built onto the high rocks. At the top of the rocks was Matlock Avenue and Cromford Avenue, known locally as “The Top Field “.
Railway Line and Quarries
We now return to the first viaduct again and take the left turn, and pass some allotments on the left, and Fatty Man’s Bank on the right, before you proceeded under a long single stone built underpass that carried the trains to and from the Central Station on the L.N.E.R. ne connecting to the L.M.S. line. This underpass took you to the old Sand Quarry on the left, an area often used by the courting couples of yesteryear. If you didn’t turn left, but went straight on, the stony path continued into Gregory’s Stone Quarry. This Quarry was a working quarry throughout my childhood, we often heard the explosions when ” Blasting ” was taking place. I think it was a working quarry right up to the 1960’s and maybe the 1970’s. High Walls & Allotments
We now return to where Quarry Lane continues on the right fork. The stone wall on the left continues at a height of about 4ft-6ins right along until it reaches the first arch of the viaduct. It then continues at the same height along to the bottom of Sibthorpe St. The archway over Quarry Lane was quite a low bridge, which eliminated a lot of traffic from getting to Sibthorpe Street, and Bradder Street. Although, the wall was only 4ft 6ins high on the Quarry Lane side, over the wall there was quite a big drop down to the river valley. We now return to the other side of the road again, back to the fork in the road. The higher stone wall from the cottages we passed continues even higher, but at this point, another wall has been built. This wall is only 3ft in height, it has been built as a retaining wall for the now even higher first wall to allow for the higher ground of the contours . Between the two walls, soil has been banked and grassed to form a support for the high wall. Over this wall, there are many, many allotments.
Both walls continue along to the first arch of the viaduct. It is here we find a most interesting part of the stonework. At the base of the arch, are some very old worn stone steps. These steps lead up to an old stone stile of approximately 20ins in height, which over this, is a cinder path that takes you through the allotments, past the rear entrance to Field Mill Football Ground, and continues it’s uneven way past the backs of the houses of Lord Street, to come out on Portland Street, close to what was The Old Black Bull Public house. So back to the old stone steps that were so worn out in the middle, one had to watch where they placed their own steps when walking up or down. The actual steps had a 4ft wall either side which all formed part of the supporting strength for the higher wall protecting the allotments. Between the actual bridge and the steps was another banking for the corner of the viaduct, again ensuring a non-slip bridge base. On the other side of the bridge was another grassy bank, giving the same support to the wall and railway bridge.
Next we have a very high stone wall which forms a support for the gardens of a terraced row of stone cottages. There are two lots of steps which lead down to Quarry Lane. The cottages are still there, so they require no further description, only that the view from the front gardens were superb. Bruce Aram, an old school friend and playmate of mine used to live at, I think it was number eleven. I remember that Sibthorpe Street was access to quite a large Sand Quarry, that had been excavated from the land between Bradder Street and Sibthorpe Street. The quarry went right to the edge of Sibthorpe St., hence there were no houses built on the left hand side of Sibthorpe St.
Across the bottom of Sibthorpe Street there was a pair of semi-detached stone cottages, and at the rear of the two cottages was an old type slaughter house which was attached to the rear of the pair of semi cottages, alas, all gone. After the pair of semis’ the wall continued all the way to the bottom of Bradder Street, and the only access through the wall was a five barred gate and a pedestrian gate which lead to the Scout Hut, which was later used by the Sea Cadets, there was also a large wooden hut with a garden at the front.This could have been the Cabbage Club.
Across the road of Quarry Lane opposite the bottom of Sibthorpe Street, the stone wall on that side was now much higher, it had a doorway that had been blocked off, and over the other side of the wall were some steps and the remains of what used to be an old stone house. My Aunt Flo used to tell me that her family used to live there, around the early 1900’s. This must have been a sort of Small-Holding, as from where the house used to be, to the bottom of Bradder St, the cultivated garden grew everything imaginable , it also had mature, Apple, Plum and Pear trees , and never a shortage of water with the river Maun running along side. Also from the demolished stone house to the bottom of Bradder St., the wall to the left of Quarry Lane had reduced in height again to about 4ft, this also terminated at the bottom of Bradder St. The 4 ft stone wall that terminated at the bottom of Bradder St, had now become a 6ft angle-ironed railings, with an iron gate at the end for access to the river and the viaduct base. The 6ft railings continued up to the pillar of the first bridge of the original viaduct that carried freight from the L.M.S. line over the viaduct to the Eastern part of the country from Nottingham and areas. This first bridge, unlike the other bridge on Quarry Lane, has cast iron bridge support members over the road. This viaduct still stands today, it is a tribute to the workmanship of the skilled men who built it in the 1800’s.
After Bradder St, we had the Back Lane, which would take you up to the Engine Sheds, the Railway Crossing, the Brickyard Works, Moor Lane School, Sutton Road, and eventually over Botany to Pleasley. What an adventure that was, it was a sort of Alladin’s Cave of nature and excitement at what you might come across. It was also the short cut we used to take when the Fairs were set up on Chesterfield Road Recreation Ground.
The Back Lane was the rear entrances to one side of Bradder St. There was a complete row with openings to the Lane, of outside toilets and separate housing for the ash filled dustbins, remember everyone had coal fires in the days gone by. Each house had a small garden, and the back doors faced each other, this was called “Back to Back” housing, and the two houses shared what was called the Back Yard, on the other side of the Back Lane. The Engine Sheds were completely stone walled in, that is apart from where the railway lines lead into the sheds…Along Quarry Lane from the Back Lane, Quarry Lane on the right, was nothing but allotments that stretched right along to Sheepbridge Lane, then back as far as Cinderella’s Walk. There seemed to be miles of them. There were even allotments between the sheds, the railway lines, the Back Lane and Quarry Lane. Every bit of spare land was allocated to the allotment schemes. There were two five barred gate entrances to the two allotments, one either side the railway lines that proceeded to the viaduct, and from the viaduct, a hawthorn hedge separated the allotments from Quarry Lane, all the way up to the junction with Sheepbridge Lane.
Lord Byron Yard
Another part of Quarry Lane that was of great interest to us at the time was, the small fence with a small hedge that allowed us access to the river and the base of the viaduct’s supports. I still have the scar on my right hand that I achieved whilst climbing one of them, and the river Maun held many interests for us. We now come to the footpath that takes you over the footbridge that spans the river, and on into what was The Lord Byron Yard.***6*** The Pub and cottages have long since gone, but I do remember times I looked in to see if I could see my brother-in-law and my sister Alice drinking a noggin of ale. Of course, when going to High Oakham School from Bradder St., I would take this route through the Byron Yard and over the Top Field. Most days a man would be stood on the bridge leaning over the rail and looking into the river. His name was William Boyd and he lived in the first cottage, closest to the river. He was a Soldier of the first world war, and survived through a gas attack, although it left him with a severe breathing problem. He stood on that bridge many hours, just trying to get his breath.
Further along, we come to the wooded area we used to call The Robin Hood, here, we swam, we fished, we swung over the river by bull rope, we made bows and arrows, we made dens, we cooked on fires, all in all we had many happy hours just being kids.
At the junction with Sheepbridge Lane, we had the Crawler, a corner of the river which was quiet, and the river bends after it comes from under the main road, we would also shelter under the road if it rained. As I grew older and had my own children, I also remembered my own childhood, I took my two daughters when old enough to the Crawler, and showed them how to catch fish with a bent pin.
I hope you have enjoyed accompanying me on my nostalgic trip down memory lane…I honestly believe that much of our history should be preserved, because,at heart, we all Love Our Mansfield.