Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Book - New book looks at history of Awsworth

THE village of Awsworth, in the Erewash valley, is best known for its coal, iron, chemicals, glass and bridges.

It is also the home village of Jack Bamford who, in 1952, became the youngest winner of the George Medal after saving his family from a house fire. He was 15 years old.

They are all subjects in historian Bryan Maloney's newly published book which takes a long, pictorial look at Awsworth Through Time.

For most of the 96 pages which contain nearly 200 photographs, the story is familiar and unassuming, typical of any industrial English village.

Its prosperity was built on the discovery of coal some time in the dim and distant past and that begat a thriving glass making industry dating back to the early 1600s, pioneered by the splendidly named Grymballed Pauncefold and Palemon Nicholson.

They allied themselves to coal because a local law had been passed banning the use of wood... because it was needed to build bridges across the River Trent.

This brings the history of Awsworth neatly on to the subject of bridges, to which numerous pages in Bryan Maloney's book are devoted.

The two most renowned bridges are the Bennerley viaduct and the Forty Bridges.

The Bennerley viaduct is a remarkable lattice work iron structure dating from 1877, one of only two of its kind in the country. Designed to cope with the potential damage from mining subsidence, it was built by the Great Northern Railway to serve the Notts and Derbyshire coalfields.

It was abandoned in 1964 but is now preserved under a Grade II listing.

Not so lucky was the Forty Bridges, a 56ft brick-built viaduct of 43 arches also known as the Kimberley or Giltbrook Viaduct, demolished in 1964 to make way for the A610 bypass.

All that remains of a major chemical industry is Naphtha House, the factory building on Shilo Way which produced the oil-based product Naphtha, used in the petro-chemical industry.

Red hills, which were the residue of production, can still be seen near the site.

The book also records the passing of the railway – Awsworth had its own station on the Great Northern line – and the demise of the Nottingham Canal, which began to dry up in the 1930s.

The rest of the book follows the accepted formula for such publications, concentrating on schools, churches, pubs, sport and people.

There is a bright section remembering the Awsworth Gala from the 1970s and memories of when the village boasted five public houses: the Crown Inn, the Gate Inn, Robin Hood Arms, Cricketers Arms and the Jolly Colliers.

And several old football team photographs which are sure to bring back memories, especially the Nottinghamshire Cup-winning team of 1954, a feat repeated 50 years later by Awsworth Reserves.

But the most intriguing photograph appears at the back of the book, a picture of a slate plaque to be found on the cemetery wall.

At the top of the plaque is the word WATCH and at the bottom REPENT. Between those two entreaties is the verse "As once we were, So now are ye: As now we are, So shall ye be".

The lines are apparently of Irish origin and a favourite epithet for gravestones, but according to Mr Maloney, founder of the Awsworth and Cossall History Society, no one knows who was responsible for putting up the Awsworth plaque.

Awsworth Through Time is published by Amberley Publishing and is on sale priced £14.99.

From: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/New-book-looks-history-Awsworth/story-15770944-detail/story.html

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