Wood Court.....Newgate Lane

Sketch of outside lavatory door, and tin bath on the wall
P Marples, drawn for my book 'Forest Town the Village that Grew Out of Coal'
Bron Cow, Public House
D Johnson
The houses as I remember them
A Curtis

Wood Court a small community

Wood Court was a long forgotten part of Mansfield that only a few of the older generation may just remember. How do I know ? Because my wife’s family were part of that small community that lived there, or for want of a better word, existed there. My wife and her eldest sister Jean were born there. The entrance to the court was on Newgate Lane opposite Newgate Lane school field.

Wood Court consisted of 12 stone houses, attached in three’s. They were in three blocks. Two blocks of three, one  of them on the front on Newgate Lane,and the other block of three was the far side of the court. The third block was a block of six back to back stone houses all joined together, as per a six on a domino tile, both facing away from each other. Cobblestones covered areas around the court.

Jenny Wrights Step’s

Close by was a piece of spare ground where the occasional bonfire was held on November the 5th. There was a second opening that came out near Jenny Wright’s steps that went down to Ratcliffegate. The houses were all built of the same stone that the Kings Arms Public House was built. And as my wife says ” All of the men who,lived in Wood Court, like her father, were drinkers.”   They frequented the Brown Cow, Kings Arms, the Carpenters Arms, Sandhills Club, and many more they could get into.

Stone Houses & an outside toilet to share

The stone houses all only had a front door. No back door. The stone houses all only had two rooms,one up one down. The stone houses did not have an inside toilet or even a cold water tap. Just in case the younger generation do not believe, or cannot imagine what it was like to use, and share an outside toilet, they were called lavatories back in the early days. I make no apologies for telling it how it was. When the houses were built, the lavatories were built away from the houses. They were built of stone, a very cold and small  room. The actual toilet was a wooden board across the back of the room, and the wooden board had a hole in the centre which formed the toilet seat. At the rear of the lavatory building was a small door, this door gave access to beneath the lavatory seat where a large container bucket would be placed.

Emptying the ‘Loo’s’

These buckets would be collected and replaced with an empty clean bucket. This work would be done during the night with a horse and cart, and later with a slurry lorry…Before the invention of the sewerage works, the slurry wagons would be emptied on farmland  where it would be ploughed into the fields. There were no rolls of toilet paper in those days,  when one used the toilet, the paper consisted of the previous days newspaper which had been cut or torn into squares. And was usually hung on a nail or piece of string at the back of the door.  The stone houses did not all have a kitchen or sink.

Friday night bath night

As often as not, a tin wash basin was used, and a tin bath which everyone in the family used, this was mainly used every Friday night. The stone houses did not have a garden. There were some outside taps for a water supply, and each house had a fireplace, this had a boiler for heating water and an oven for cooking purposes, and there was a gas mantle for light downstairs. I believe my wife’s family lived at number two, and their front door looked onto the Kings Arms back yard. It must have been like living in the Rock Houses, plus having an upstairs bedroom. When Doctor Burgess first came to Mansfield, he had one of the houses on Newgate Lane, not to live in but as a surgery.

Corner shop

It was just round the corner where the families would get their weekly shop, or daily shop as the case may be.The shop was on the corner of Arthur Street, originally it was Hayes shop, and then it became Barkers shop. The shops in those days were very different from the modern day supermarkets. Bacon would be cut into slices by a hand operated slicing machine. Sugar would be put into a blue bag with a scoop from a big hessian sack of sugar and weighed. Butter would be taken from a large block of butter with wooden spatulas, and patted into a small block. Whilst the shopkeeper was doing all this, one would pass the time talking and looking round the shop to see if there was anything else you required or took your fancy.

Groceries delivered

During the war, Jack Barker was in the R.A.F., and during one of his many raids he was shot down, and although he lived through the crash, Jack did lose one of his legs. After the war, Jack and his sister Betty took over the shop from their mother and father, and continued to run it very successfully. Jack continued to deliver groceries to the same people whom his mother and father supplied at Wood Court, and who had all moved up the hill to Maltby Road. When my wife and I were married in 1955, we also continued to support Jack and Betty by buying our groceries from them, they were such nice people and neither were married at that time,   Jack would deliver our groceries each Friday in his Volvo car. I cannot recall if the car had been converted for Jack to be able to drive it.

Moving to Maltby Road

It was in 1935-1936 that all of the families who lived in Wood Court were moved up to Maltby Road as the new houses were completed. What a difference that made to their  previous standards of living, and when they were all settled into their new abodes on Maltby Road, the community of Wood Court remained very good friends for many years. The men drinkers had now changed their watering holes to the Smith Street club, and the Reindeer, but still remained members of the Sandhills club. They   all saw their families grow into adults, and now all of the originals have passed on.

The Clinic

I guess the reason that my wife’s mother became a resident of Wood Court was that her mother, Lucy Powell, was the caretaker of the Clinic on Ratcliffegate. The large Clinic building was the main clinic for all the Mansfield Schools in the area. It dealt with all the schools health problems, including Dentistry. And if my memory serves me right, the Dentist was a Mr. Sutton. Lucy and her daughter Elizabeth lived at the clinic. In fact it was whilst Elizabeth was living at the clinic that, when she was coming out of the clinic gates one day that Victor Maclaglen [film star]knocked her flying….He did pick her up from the ground, and was full of apologies. Victor had been visiting his sister who was the wife of Doctor Tweedy. [See page on Dr Tweedie, in People].My mother in law was married from the school Clinic in 1933, and had a photograph taken on the lawn at the front of the Clinic.

Wood Court demolished

Wood Court was finally demolished in the late 1930’s and lay as waste land for many years.It was the Mansfield company of R.L.Jones, the soft drinks makers, who finally took over the waste land and built a soft drinks depot there. I’m sure it was sometime in the late 1950’s that this took place. Now this, I’m not quite sure of, but I do believe that it was in the mid-1970’s that the R.L.Jones depot was closed, and the depot was taken over by another Mansfield company Pegg’s Transport.

Comments about this page

  • Reading about Jane Wright’s grocery shop on Ratcliffe Gate, I was her grocery boy when I was 13 years old to 15, I then handed over to a lad from Hibbert Rd. I don’t remember his first name but surname was Spademan.
    Working for Janey was very tiring, I did Monday after school for about 1 hour, Tuesday was the longest day, I had to deliver groceries to Big Barn Lane with the 4 wheeled barrow that she supplied. Wednesday no delivery, Thursday Maltby Road, Friday around Hibbert Road and Saturday morning local around the shop, all for three shillings a week!!

    By Derek Smith (22/03/2023)
  • Thanks Alan for your comments. It appears that my husband’s ancestor moved around a lot, didn’t stay anywhere for long! It makes tracing the family tree interesting.

    By Jean Sharman (14/05/2018)
  • Hello Jean… I assume you have read the above. so you will know my wife was born in Wood Court, Bin 1934, which in itself was at the rear of The Kings Arms. I am told the King’s Arms yard was Between Wood Court and the King’s Arms Yard. She believes there used to be a wall between the two. The yard would have been accessible from either Janie wright steps or the King’s Arms. There was a dividing wall Between Wood Court and the K.Arm’s. Over the wall from W.Court was a yard into the K.Arm’s .. It’s a fair bet that later, the accommodation  that had to be provided by the pub for the soldiers and their horses , so the cottages could have been converted billets.  It wasn’t a very large yard, and very little room   Mostly families moved up to the Maltby Rd. area

    By Alan Curtis (19/03/2018)
  • Tracing my husband’s family tree, I discovered that his great great grandmother was born at no.2 Kings Arms Yard, Mansfield in December 1871. Any information on the houses etc would be appreciated.

    By Jean Sharman (15/03/2018)
  • Does anyone have any information or photos of Mason’s or Stone Court, they existed in the 1880s. I would be very much obliged, thank you.                                                                                   Michael T. Prosser

    By Michael T. Prosser (30/04/2016)
  • Can anyone remember the Bren gun carrier that was parked under the LNER railway bridge on Pelham Street on the high sidewalk side of the road, I used to play on it. When did it eventually get removed. Do any photos exist of it. I was born on the 5th of January 1943 and cannot remember its removal. Also if I remember correctly I was told that three flares were dropped by German bombers who were trying to locate Barringers, one a hit the waste ground on Ratcliffe Gate opposite Newgate Lane, one on the field at the side of the bridge on Pelham Street not the school side, and the other I have totally forgot. Can anyone confirm this.

    Thanks Mick

    By Michael T Prosser (18/04/2016)
  • Hi Michael. You are right, David was my half brother. We had the same mother but different fathers but we always thought ourselves as proper brothers. He lived with us in Rainworth until he was old enough to join the RAF and then he was posted to many places at home and abroad. When he came out he settled in Middlesex with his family and lived there for a number of years. Unfortunately he passed away in July 2008 he was only 64 years old, my father also passed away 3 months later, so it was a very sad time for me and my family. Dad always treated him as his real son. On a lighter note I can imagine Uncle Graham ( Grimley) giving you a good hiding he always seemed to be very strict with us kids.

    By Pete Higgins (30/03/2016)
  •  Hi Peter Higgins, do you have a brother David Hopewell, he was my best friend untill he moved away. Mr. Grimly gave me a good hiding because David Bingley had put dried dog shit through his letterbox and he thought it was me. If David is your brother how old his he? I was born 5th. January 1943. Both your mother and sister were very nice ladies. George Osbourne was a chimney sweep and lived at 6 Arthur Street.

    By Michael Thomas Prosser (27/03/2016)
  • Hi Michael. I was born at 30 Arthur Street in April 1951. I have been led to believe that it was my grandma’s house. My mum Emily was divorced from a man called George Hopewell and she married my dad in 1950. Mum’s sister Lily married a man called Graham Grimley. So you were right with your recollections. My grandma’s  name was Mabel Read, can you remember her. I think her brother also lived somewhere on or around Arthur Street, but I may be wrong on that. His name was George Osborne. Although it was a very long time ago I do recall some of the names in your article. We moved to Rainworth in 1953 but we still visited Arthur Street for a number of years after that.

    By Pete Higgins (11/03/2016)
  • I lived at 20 Arthur Street from 1943 to 1965. Redgates had a depot on Arthur Street it was on the right hand side of the street #4, it was the next building after Barker’s shop #2. Jack Barker told me when his aircraft was hit the shell blew his knee cap off. I don’t know how much of his leg he lost but he had a pot leg, he was a good golfer and used to go to the golf club near Crown Farm colliery.

    John Radford lived at 10 Arthur Street, old lady Rushton and Cyril at #16, Elliots at #18,Cranes and Prossers at #20, Peabodys at #22, old lady Radford and daughter Mabel at #24, Sissons at #26 then Grimlys Hopewells and Mellors.


    By Michael Thomas Prosser (06/03/2016)
  • Does anyone have any memories of Pembroke Street? It was demolished for the bypass down from metal box. My family landed there I think after Wood Court (see previous post). Again I think quite a poor area. Then from there to Maltby Road then Ladybrook. Thanks!

    By Laura wilkinson (04/10/2013)
  • I agree Laura, life must have been awful there in 1871. and the further you go back, the more awful life was. Especially for a 13 year old…It wasn’t that much better in my day…Thank goodness it has very much improved since…It is my belief Wood Court was built in the 1700’s, probably built originally as billets for the then soldiers behind the King’s Arms Public House. alan

    By alan curtis (12/06/2013)
  • My great great grandmother moved to from Water lane in Newark to Wood court in 1871 at age 13. Her life must have been absolutely awful. These men were abusive and I guess drunk mostly. It’s interesting to note that the marriotts / smiths didnt go far over the next 70 years

    By Laura Wilkinson (28/05/2013)
  • To read more about Chamberlains – Please see Chamberlains Newsagents – Memories by Simon Leivers – in the Mansfield Pages

    By Editors (14/04/2013)
  • Just spending one of my rare visits to the old town, and driving past the bottom of Newgate Lane, remembering Chamberlain’s Paper shop, and reflecting on what it used to look like years ago, Janey Wright’s shop, the steps and the like. Then I remembered, just past Chamberlain’s, where the shop stood back a little, was some more steps, very narrow and steep, the steps are still there. The steps led you to several blocks of old stone cottages that were akin to the old one up one down houses that were built on Wood Court. These house were behind the Brown Cow and up to Pelham Street. .There were about 30 houses, about 10 blocks in all, very much like those in Wood Court.Long gone, and I believe now a small industrial estate. Angela reminded me of the old Chamberlain’s cottage, which I believe was 3 cottages. Whenever I came to the bottom of Carter Lane, the old man was always sat in his garden chair, no matter what time of day I passed, I have often wondered if the family who lived there belonged to the Chamberlain family with the Paper Shop. It has come to my knowledge that this was indeed Mr Tom Chamberlain, who before living in the cottage, he lived in one of the Rock houses, earning a meagre living as a Besom maker. He moved into the cottage from the Rock House he lived in for many years


    By alan curtis (03/04/2013)
  • Tom i seem to remember Ebor Buses were on Nottingham Road and it was Wass Brothers on Westfield Lane can never remember where Baker Bros were Garaged Trent had a Garage at the bottom of Skerry Hill but only single Deckers Double Deckers were garaged at the East Midland Depot on Chesterfield Road Midland General and Mansfield District other buses who served Mansfield being Trumans from Shirebrook and Naylor’s from South Normanton For many years pior to ww11 Tent displayed a notice board indicating thar Trent were going to build a new Garage in the Park Ave area but the war stopped the Development Although the Bus Companies operated independently they were part of Large Groups such as Tillings who actually had most of the operators in the East Midlands under there control

    By Malcolm Raynor (15/03/2013)
  • Berisford, thank you for the reply. I am duly informed by my better half, who in her younger days had a friend who lived at the top of the steps, June Pogmore…That it wasn’t Jenny, but Janey Wright Steps…Maybe someone can confirm…It’s an easy mistake to make….

    By alan curtis (15/03/2013)
  • It was inded Jane Wright and not Jenny Wright, as previously mentioned. She was born in 1894 and was the daughter of Jeffrey Wright. Jeffrey Wright had a grocer’s shop at 69 Ratcliffe Gate, and the steps named after his daughter are still used (as far as I am aware) situated next to the old shop, which I believe still stands. Jeffrey died in 1923 and his daughter Jane carried on with the business.

    By Angela Roche (15/03/2013)
  • Thanks Alan. It appears that the shop opened about 1910 and, amazingly, survived as J.T.Wright (Grocer/Greengrocer) until 1971 when it looks as it was demolished in the general so called ‘improvements’ made on the Ratcliffe Gate – Rock Hill area.

    By Berisford Jones (14/03/2013)
  • Alan, do you know the origin/reason for the name of the Jenny Wright steps?

    By Berisford Jones (13/03/2013)
  • Jenny Wright had a general shop at the bottom of the steps.

    By alan curtis (13/03/2013)
  • Ref. Redgates premises in Mansfield, I was told they were in the vicinity of the Redgate pub but the Gazateer shows it on Frederick St. I mentioned this on the Mansfield Drinks Industry site in May 2012, you obviously missed that entry.

    By Tom Shead (25/01/2013)
  • You are right about the bus garage Berisford, it was Wass Brothers, and I rather think the Redgate pub was built by Hardy and Hanson, Kimberley Brewery.

    By Peter Bowler. (19/01/2013)
  • Tom, can you check the Redgate site in the directory, I understand the site was used by the ‘Wass’ bus company. Ebor was on Stanley Rd.

    By Berisford Jones (11/08/2012)
  • My Grandma Mabel Reid lived on Arthur St.and I can distinctly remember the corner shop.Jack and Betty Barker were friends of my mum and I used to spend many happy hours in the shop and their living room playing with their dog,I think it was a black labrador.Jack would sometimes let me carry bundles of sticks from the cellar and stack them in the shop.If I behaved myself Betty would reward me with a bar of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate.Happy days, only marred by visits to Dr Burgess for him to administer my first “JABS”.

    By Pete Higgins (18/04/2012)
  • Ref Redgate Drinks! I have asked a number of people of my age 75+ years and we think the Redgate premises were in the Somersall St, Westfield Lane area. Mansfield Brewery bought out Redgates and Hornby in the 40s and 50s hence Mansfield Brewery opened the Pub called the Redgate Inn on Westfield Lane. Friends of mine who lived on Abbot Road near the Mansfield Shoe Co sports ground say they used to walk over the fields to Westfield Lane where the original houses finished where the Redgate Inn is now because it was safer to walk than on the Chesterfield Road into Mansfield. The present site of the Pub was the Ebor Bus Company, this is in the 1956 gazateer. I intend to forward a copy of the 56 gazateer for Bradder St residents shortly.

    By Tom Shead (14/04/2012)
  • I am reliably informed by someone in their 80’s and used to live on Arthur St…..Redgate Drinks firm used to be at the rear of Wood Court near the top of Arthur St…..Redgate Drinks firm were taken over by R.L.Jones ( Mandora ). Today I have driven around Mansfield and seen all the changes that have taken place over the years….I saw the old School Clinic, It stands just before the Rock Houses on Redcliffe Road and it is called Redcliffe House….

    By alcurtis (12/04/2012)
  • Thank you Tom….I didn’t know the later years of Wood Court. I do know that I have seen R.L.Jones vehicles on the site. Parked there… Maybe, during the transgression period before the move to Bellamy Rd…Or maybe the garage you speak of used to service their vehicles…. By the way Tom, Where were the ” Redgate ” drinks firm based ??? I cannot remember..Alan

    By alan curtis (04/04/2012)
  • Alan Curtis mentioned Businesses on the Wood Court demolished site. MEG Jones had a site there but whether they were connected to the Drinks people I wouldn’t know. In the late 50s there was a garage operating from a hastily built building offering cheap tyres etc. Peggs were on Pelham St in 1952 and well established with a large lorry park.The RSPCA had a clinic on the edge of the Lorry Park and there was an alleyway leading to Ratcliffe Gate[ Sherwood Court] etc and steps down to the shops. RL Jones site as the advert shows was in St John’s Court before moving up Bellamy Road. The licensee at the Brown Cow was PJ Hunt and the King’s Arms licensee was CL Hall. This information is from the Linneys Gazetter of 1956.

    By Tom Shead (03/04/2012)
  • The mention of the beginning of the N.H.S. in the previous comment, made me think of how it must have been during the pre-N.H.S. years….Our Doctor was Dr. Tate and his two sons Hugh and Malcolm. All three were doctors at the same practice, at the top of St Johns Street…..I don’t recall that one had to make an appointment in those far off days…You just turned up, saw the lady in the office, gave her your name so she could retrieve your envelope card and take them in to the doctor.. You would take a seat on church pew type seats, look around you to see who was in front of you, and then wait for your turn to come round and listen out for the dreaded shout from the doctor….” Next “. I think in the very early days the doctor charged a penny or 2 pence for each home visit…These home visits would have been made on a bicycle, and when the 1940’s came round, his mode of transport changed to a motor car… It is no wonder there were so many home concoctions made for every illness under the sun….These concoctions would have been handed down the generations of families….. I know my mother used to make one, it was called very aptly ” Fever Mixture “, and we had to take a spoonful no matter what was wrong with us…It was always followed with a spoonful of sugar !!! And my word, it literally did cure everything…..

    By alan curtis (29/03/2012)
  • How right you are James. In 1946/47. My wife’s sister Jean contracted Rheumatic Fever, for which she went into hospital. Many is the time my wife had to cycle from Maltby Road to Doctor Burgess’s house on Woodhouse Road to collect medicine for her sister. Don’t forget that the N.H.S. had not started then. And in the early days Dr.Burgess used to do his visits on a bike. I believe that Dr. Burgess died in 1976. He is buried in Nottingham Road Cemetery in the same row as my mother. Each time we visit the cemetery, my wife cleans the Headstone of Dr Burgess.

    By alan curtis (27/03/2012)
  • What a fantastic read on the Wood Court story, and I know that times like those exsisted, when I go by that particular spot at the back of the Kings Arms I can’t help but gaze upon it and imagine those houses being there. I also see the stone steps leading to the houses on Ratcliffe Gate that Alan mentioned in his story of Wood Court. I wonder if any of the younger generation reads this artical? Could they begin to understand the way poeple did live. Thank goodness for progress. Eileen.

    By Eileen (26/03/2012)
  • I remember Doctor Burgess he was our next door neighbour when we lived on Woodhouse Road a nice but very old man

    By jim cairns (25/03/2012)

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