Chamberlains Newsagents

History – 1911 Census

In 1911 Andrew Chamberlain and his wife Nora lived at 16 Ratcliffe gate Mansfield, they had four children Robert (16), Gerty (11), Ida (8) and Beaty [sic] (6). Andrews occupation was a Shopkeeping Traveller.

Many years later, I used to deliver newspapers as a lad for Chamberlain News, the little newspaper shop that is to left side of the Brown Cow on Ratcliffe Gate, also known as the birthplace of Robert Dodsley the poet. The paper shop known as Chamberlains News was run by the Chamberlain sisters Ida and Gert. They were very old ladies and liked you to be on time every day.

I had a morning and Evening Post round for the sisters. I think they were related to the Chamberlains of Rock Hill (see page Rock House Families). They always gave a nice tip at Christmas and usually some chocolate bars. I can still remember their faces.

The room where they lived in the shop always had a great coal fire roaring in the back and in the winter it was lovely and warm in the shop when you went inside from the icy cold weather after delivering the papers. One of the sisters was usually toasting bread in the open fire.

Ida and Gerts sister Beatrice (Beaty) had a post office in Woodhouse.

Bob was brother to the Chamberlain sisters and continued to deliver papers for many, many more years on his bike until his early 80’s, that’s what I was told by his grandson a few years back.

Bobs grandson also told me that after the sisters had passed away, he had the job of clearing out the shop and he discovered a rent book and which showed how Ida and Gert had managed to only pay Mansfield brewery £1 per month rent !!!! They had somehow slipped though the net. No wonder Gert always had a crafty grin on her face.

The old shop is now part of the pub and I have since been back and had a pint in the room to just sit and quietly remember how I lugged that great big bag of news papers out every morning and evening to earn just £3.00 a week back in 1981, about the cost of a pint these days.


Photo that shows the shop next to the Brown Cow which used to be Chamberlains Newsagents
D Johnson

Comments about this page

  • My father died in 1956 and my mother only got £3.5 a week widows pension. Anyhow my mother arranged with Bob Chamberlain for me to deliver papers. We were Catholics as were the Chamberlains. I started work for Bob at 11s and 10d per week, Monday to Friday mornings. That was 71 morning papers delivered per week at 2 pence per household. Most newsagents never paid their boys the proper rate making a profit out of them. I had to go to Bob’s house at the bottom of Newgate Lane to pick up my papers and he made me have breakfast with him and wouldn’t let me out of the house until 7 o’clock as that was the law. If the Catholic Church need another Saint my vote would be Bob. Amen. I had to stop working for Bob as I got reported to the government for doing a paper round or they would deduct my paper round money from my mother’s widow’s pension.

    By Michael Thomas Prosser (29/03/2016)
  • Hi Elizabeth, thank you for clearing the bits that I had wrong in my story. When I had read Nona in the census return , I thought it read Nora….my mistake, if I had searched back further then I may have realised . I hadn’t heard of that name Nona before, but I guess as a ninth born child it does make sense. The old shop is still part of the pub. The room is known as “the snug” in the Brown Cow. It’s my local and I visit there usually once or twice a week. There’s not a day when I sit in “the snug” that I do not think of Ida & Gerty. As their paper lad I do have fond memories of them, they were good to me and always saw me right at Christmas time. I never had a day off while working for them for nearly three years. I will never forget their faces, I can see them in my head, I just wish I had a photo of them as I think I will remember them for ever. It’s nice to hear that Gerty was able to live out the rest of her life in safety with you until a grand age of 97

    By Simon Leivers (26/03/2016)

    I am Gerty and Ida’s Great Niece. Beatrice was my Grandmother. First of all Andrew Chamberlain’s occupation was county court bailiff. It was also not Nora but Nona, meaning ninth child. Nona also had two other children, 6 children in total. 2 died in infancy. 

    After the robbery (Ida fought the attacker and pushed him out the shop) they still continued the business until Ida was taken into hospital before she died in August 1982. Gerty then came to live with my parents (and later myself) in August 1982 and died in 1997 aged 97.

    The shop was started by Nona Chamberlain in the beginning by just putting a few tins and jars in the window. 

     We often go back but it is very sad. My mother has many happy memories of New Years Eve leaning over the door hearing the bells at St Peter’s Church at midnight. 

    I enjoy following the family tree and do so as much and as far back as I can. Ida, Gerty, Beatrice and Bob are all buried in Mansfield cemetery. Many times despite living 600 miles away now from Mansfield. I have visited all four graves to take flowers and wreaths with my Mum who is Beatrice’s daughter. Tried to find further back ancestors in the grave yard but not successful as yet.

    Often think of them all and I grew up with Gerty as she lived with me from me being born until 1997.

     By Elizabeth Walker-Parker (Not yet approved)


    By Elizabeth Walker-Parker (10/01/2016)
  • In the car park of the Brown Cow I noticed a substantial stone wall which almost looks as if it could have been part of a railway bridge. Does anyone know the history?

    By Gill Chaplin (26/10/2014)
  • Drove past here yesterday and noticed that the Chamberlain’s sign has been uncovered and then overpainted. The sign hasn’t been rubbed down flat so you can still read the lettering grinning through!

    By Peter Zakarian-Ball (02/03/2014)
  • Jim you are correct, they did indeed get robbed and it must have been quite a big knock back for the elderly ladies, but as Angela mentions above, Ida died in 1882, a year after I finished my paper round in 81. I believe its when Ida died that the shop was finished as Gert could not have run it on her own. Knowing them as I did, they relied heavily upon one another.

    The shop then re-opened as a cycle repair shop for a year or two before being made into part of the Brown Cow which you could access from the main lounge of the pub and actually sit in the shop and drink your pint.

    Looking from outside you would never guess it was part of the pub , but it was refurbished and renamed Robert Dodsley, Poet and Playwrite, being the man who wrote the famous King and Miller novel. This site was Robert Dodsleys birthplace in the early 1700’s. As you say Jim , even today by driving by the shop it still looks the same as it does in the picture above and you will be mistaken into thinking its a separate shop from the outside even though it is part of the Brown Cow pub.

    By Simon Leivers (18/03/2012)
  • This family of Chamberlains married into my family tree, the Bramwells of Rock Hill. Andrew Chamberlain and Nora Massey actually had 5 children, Albert 1884, Robert 1895-1975, Gertrude 1900, Ida 1902-1982 and Beatrice 1905. I wasn’t aware that the old newsagent shop was now part of the Brown Cow pub, I will have to look next time I come to visit Mansfield, as last time I looked it was a seperate building.

    By Angela Roche (17/03/2012)
  • I was in Mansfield last week and drove past the Brown Cow on the way to my sisters and never realised the old newsagents was part of the pub now. Shows lack of observation nowadays, but remember the two old ladies running it and always very pleasant when they served you. I was told they finished with the shop after a robbery, be it right or wrong but they would have been an easy target as they were getting on in years.

    By jim cairns (16/03/2012)
  • In the 1930’s my wife’s family lived at Wood Court at the bottom of Newgate Lane. At that time they had their daily papers from Chamberlain’s paper shop which was round the corner from where they lived, it was Bob Chamberlain then who delivered their papers daily. In 1936 Maltby Road was in the process of being built, and my wife’s family were the second family to move onto Maltby Road. It was then that Bob Chamberlain followed them up to Maltby Road with the papers, and continued to deliver papers for years on his bike.

    By Alan Curtis (15/03/2012)

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