IMPRESSIONS OF KINGSTHORPE HOLLOW OTHERWISE KNOWN AS 'DOBBS HOLE'

BY REG SPITTLES

b. 1918 at 121 Semilong Road, Northampton

 

Local Entertainments

'Coloseum Cinema', [below], on the corner of Balfour Road.

'Gem Cinema', Washington Street, Kingsthorpe.

'Imperial Dance Hall', Cartwright Road.

 

Local Public Houses

'Half Way House', corner of Cartwright Road.

'Queen Victoria', corner of Semilong Road.

'White Lion', corner of Arthur Street.

'Spotted Dog', corner of Alpha Street.

 

Local Industries

'Compton Boot Factory', main road junction of Burghley Road and Semilong Road.

'Barratts Boot Factory', Primrose Hill.

'Webbs Boot Factory', Bunting Road.

'Millers Last Works', Arthur Street.

'Colliers Foundry', corner of Balfour Road.

'Standard Valves', corner of Balmoral Road.

'Groses Coach Works', corner of present Horsley Road.

'Clark and Sherwells', Printers, opposite corner of Thornton Road.

'Bells Fireplaces', opposite corner of Thornton Road.

'Allchins Garage', corner of Kingsthorpe Grove and Stanhope Road.

 

Local Churches

'Saint Paul C of E', [below], Semilong Road.

'Primrose Hill', Kingsthorpe Hollow.

'Trinity', Edinburgh Road.

'Chapel Institute', Kingsthorpe Road between Burghley Road and Knightley Road.

 

Education

'Saint Pauls School', Semilong Road, headmaster Mr. Roberts.

'Kingsthorpe Grove School', headmaster Mr. Leach, followed by Mr. Piggot.

Most of the boys and girls started at St. Pauls and moved on after the 11+ exams.

I went to Kingsthorpe Grove between the age of 5-14 years then went to work at Crockett and Jones Boot Factory in Perry Street.

 

Local Shops, etc.

'Joyces Bakehouse', corner of Burghley and Currie Road the shop was run by Mr. Freeman.

'Mr. French', hairdresser, Burghley Road.

'Dave Attwood's Yard', Burghley Road, he sold coal and wood and did a bit of carrying, he also loaned out hand carts.

'Samuels', Burghley Road, pawnbrokers, he also sold jewelry and repaired watches.

'Dick Harris', Burghley Road, hairdresser, opened up in the 1930's next to 'Samuels'.

'Mr. Causbrooke', had a small general store on the corner of Semilong Road and Currie Road, he sold sweets, confectionary, cold and

cooked meats, paraffin oil and any other item that showed a profit.  It was our favourite shop as kids we would play 'I Spy' with

the items in the window.

[Above] Currie Road

'Bradshaws', on the opposite corner were greengrocers, they sold their own produce from land that they owned.

'Mr. Packwoods', corner of Alpha Street and Semilong Road, this was an out door beer house and also sold coal in fair quantities.

'Mrs. Bush', left corner of Alpha Street and the main road, this was a butchers, later on she also had a cooked meat shop on the main

road next to the 'Spotted Dog'.

'Mrs. Carter', on the main road next to the 'Queen Victoria', a small sweet shop this was every kids favourite shop before going in to

the cinema on Saturday afternoon, there was always something to be had for a halfpenny.

'Mr. Barnes', this was next door to Mrs. Carters (on the main road), he also sold sweets but was bit too pricey for us kids.

'Mr. Larkman', he sold wet fish as wells as other sea food such as lobsters and crabs, this shop later became 'Bill Archers' fish and chip

shop, he had lost an eye in the war and his son John carried on the business after he retired.

'Mrs. Greenwoods', this was next door, this shop was a real Alladins Cave, the only time anything was moved was when she moved

it to sell it, she sold everything from cloth shirt buttons to gas mantles.

'Bill Hilliers', further on down from Mrs. Greenwoods,  a family butchers, there was saw dust on the floor and a pig's head on the slab with an

orange in it's mouth.

'Wingey Rathbone', a greengrocer (on the main road), he sold vegetables and fruit and sometimes rabbits.  He was known as 'Wingey' because

he lost a hand after he picked up a firework he thought was a dud, this went off in his hand and gangrene did the rest.

'Bill Newcombes', a newsagent and tobacconist (also on the main road), I always fetched my Dads three pennyworth of snuff from there,

(all shoe workers took snuff).

'Joe Newcombe', was Bill's brother and next door to him, he was our local bookmaker, he could always be found on Sunday morning at the

Queens Park Working Mens Club.  Next to him were

'Mr. Englands' dairy and 'Mr. Corbett' our undertaker.

From this point on up to Alpha Street the shops were mingled with private houses, some of which became shops later on, there were still some

remaining after second World War, amongst these was 'Mr. Burdetts' fish and chip shop, you always had the feeling his chips were fried

several times over.

In the late 1920's one of the houses was converted to become 'Harry Kemsheds' second grocery shop and on the corner with Alpha Street

was the butchers 'Mrs. Bush'.

In Arnold Road was the Police Station, in charge was Sergeant Symonds, [nickname 'Baccer'], a kind and friendly character.

Coming down the hill we have 'Sammy Irons' a barber, just short back and sides and a clip around the ear if you moved.

Another shop was 'Mrs. Childs', (hosiery), also a fish and chip shop 'Mrs. York', her son Jack would often be there serving, he was also something

of an up and coming cycle rider.

Then there was 'Langleys', [Boots and Shoes], I don't think they did repairs, everyone did their own if there was a man in the house, unfortunately

a lot of homes were without men as we had just had a war.  There were a lot of maimed veterans in the 'Hollow'.

[Above] from the 'Northampton Independent'

Starting from Balfour Road you had the 'Coloseum Cinema', there was a field on the other corner known as 'The Nursery' and about 50 yards

down from that corner you had 'Colliers Foundry' in the field, at that time it was just two Nissan Huts, we called the chaps who worked there

'Hobo's', it was very rough work.

[Above] Arthur Terrace, Kingsthorpe Road corner with Monarch Road

From the cinema up to Arthur Street was  a mixture of shops and houses, I remember'Dick Staughton'  next door to the 'Colly' [cinema], his shop

was mainly seed and straw, he had done his apprentice training at 'Faulkners Stores' on Regent Square.

There were two other small shops, one of which was 'Mr. Drage', mainly a barber but he also sold cheap toys and jokes, (pea shooters, toy gum,

nail puzzles, water whistles, stink bombs, face masks, general haberdashery.

On the corner of Arthur Street was 'Harry Kemsheds' first grocery shop, (previously the pub called 'The Freehold Arms').

Arthur Street was with a doubt a community of it's own with the largest families in the 'Hollow'.

On the opposite corner was the 'White Lion'  public house, next door was 'Whittakers' the chemist, in those days if you had an injury you always

went to the chemist first, he could always put the odd stitch in a bad cut.

One new shop took over three houses, this was called 'Favells', a wool and clothes premises.

Finally on the corner of Monarch Road you have 'Mr. Bailiffe', a dairy, he would come around the streets with a sort of hand cart which had two

large wheels and a small wheel at the front which would turn in any direction, the smallest jug on his cart was known as 'Jill'.

The business name changed to 'Griffin' when he married the daughter.

On the opposite corner of Monarch Road was a confectionary shop, 'Mr. French', very well sited to catch the trade of the workers from Barratts Boot

Factory.

[Above] Burleigh Road

Between Burghley Road and Knightley Road there was small institute or chapel, a peculiar building owing to the fact it had a floor below street level,

giving the appearance of a dry moat with a wall up to street level of about 25 feet high, to enter the front door you had to cross a large concrete

step with railings either side, in effect a small bridge.

On the corner of Cartwright Road (top side) you had the 'Half Way House' public house, in my father's day it held greyhound racing, cycle racing, running

and boxing matches, it was a noted sporting pub in those days.

 

[Above] Cartwright Road

 

Open Spaces

We did very well for open spaces, apart from the Racecourse we had the 'Nursery' which was a very large open field with no fencing, 'Chukkies Field',

and 'Chalky Whites' down St Andrews Road by the river.  The rough ground between Knightley and Cartwright Road was known as the 'Stingers'

because that was all that grew there, but it provided a natural area for all sorts of moths and butterflies.

St. Pauls School was set in between two open fields, the small one above we called the 'top field' and the larger one below we named the 'school field'.

when the ground was dry Mr. Roberts the headmaster would organize games on it, this was bit difficult because it had a very bad slope on it going

down to St. Andrews Road.

'Sammy Stills' field was were Webbs Boot Factory now stands, from there through to 'Seabys Footpath' (now Trinity Avenue), was a footpath which is

now the new part of Balfour Road, on the right hand side was all large orchards and on the left was allotments.

 

Games We Used To Play / Pastimes

One dangerous game we used to play was 'Whip Behind', this entailed hanging on to the rear end of a horse and cart to have a free ride, the whip behind

bit came into it when some well meaning person would call out to alert the driver as to what was happening, you then had to drop off quick before

the driver whipped up the horse to a smart pace so you dare not let go or he would drop off with his whip and hope to catch one of you.

Making wire badges on tram lines was another occupation, to do this you needed some thin wire to cut for length and bend to the required shape

depending on the design you had chosen, when a tram was spotting coming down Primrose Hill you would nip out to place your bits of wire on the line,

first having to spit on the line to wet it, otherwise the vibration shook them off, after the tram had gone by you usually had nicely flattened badge all fused

solidly together.

We also used to collect cigarette cards, the best source of supply was to ask the workers as they came out of the factories.  We used to play a game

with these 'fag' cards (as we called them) called 'Skimming On', to do this you placed one or more selected cards directly on the ground, you then

attempted to skim your card to cover those on the ground, the one who covered the most would win all the cards.

We also had various marble and ball games.

Another game, with a rope was played in Alpha Street (because it had a uniform width and no obstructions or traffic).  The rope had to be 3 feet shorter

than the width of the street, at either end you had one of the bigger boys or girls, everyone could join in, you then started at from one end, usually from

Semilong Road end, all the girls were on the same side of the rope and the two holding the rope would then start to walk slowly down the street, the

object was then to to try to get past the rope by dodging around the ends and escape before the other end of the street was reached, anyone who did

not around had to pay a pre-arranged forfeit.  The rope holders had to try to get some sort of understanding to work in uniform to dodge from side

to side.

I think most districts had a street or area like 'Alpha Street' this was like a natural playground with no traffic.  It was about 150 yards long with

[Above] Alpha Street

a paved surface, a drain gully ran down the centre, it had posts at both ends.  It had several steps into Semilong Road at that end, with the largest

lamp post you ever saw.

As a boy I recall that most houses had wooden shutters to close over the windows whenever they were needed.  I must say, what with budding

Stanley Matthews' and whips and tops, whichever was in season, those shutters came in handy!

Street parties were also held there.

 

Earning Money

Lack of money was always a problem amongst the lads, I always considered myself luckier than most as I had a half penny every day and three pence

on Saturday.

One way of earning money (on a Saturday) was to keep a look out towards town for cattle being driven towards Kingsthorpe and to offer our services

to the drover to escort his animals through the 'Hollow' as far as the 'Cock Hotel', (at that time there so many openings and fields for the animals to

go astray).

The drover would usually part with a few pence, according to how many there were to help and how far we would be prepared to go with him,

normal arrangement would  be part payment before we started and the rest later.  If he did now play fair the next time he came through he would

have cattle everywhere but that didn't happen very often.

 

Old Characters

On Saturday the 'Blind Barrell Organ' man would come into the Hollow, I believe his name was 'Bellamy', he was accompanied by a chap who could

see.

 

Dobbs Hole

There used to be at least four quarries around the 'Hollow', my father thinks that one of the owners or persons contracted to fill in these quarries

was named 'Dobbs' hence the name as a place to put your rubbish.

As a boy we had two quarries that were being filled in, one behind 'Barratts' shoe factory, we used to get in through the fence at the bottom of

Monarch Road although the proper entrance was in Arthur Street.  'Chowns' the builders had a yard there.

The other quarry was in Brick Kiln Lane where the Masonic Club in St. Georges Avenue now stands, we used to catch newts in both of these

quarries.

My father once told me that a horse and cart, with the drivers, was lost and drowned in Brick Kiln Quarry.

 

Community Spirit

A good community spirit existed in the Hollow, people took the trouble to get to know each other.  My mother would often bake an extra cake to

pass on to a family who need a little help.

If someone became ill, people would just naturally offer their help, to do a bit of cleaning or cooking, or to share out the ironing and washing.

They would take in an extra child at the dinner table, a bed could also be provided for a few days.  When it came to family problems if was the

women that took over, men were not expected to cope very well so their response when told was simply to say 'Oh are'.

The Sisters from the Cathedral would come down the street in their horse drawn 'Black Maria' and take the bowl around the houses for a

collection, they would also take children's clothing or toys, there was a children's home there at the time.

 

And Finally...

I know there are a few about from 'Dobbs Hole' who are much older than myself and therefore have more detailed memories than my own,

mine are for me of the happy innocent years of my life when my problems could and always were sorted by my Mum and Dad.

REG SPITTLES

NORTHAMPTON

 

Further notes by MIchael Cox

                    I believe that the pub' at the corner of Semilong Road was not known as The Queen Victoria but was called The Victoria Tavern.

                    During the 1950s the landlord was Ernie Fowkes.  Secondly a The Halfway House is on the corner of Horsley Road rather than Cartwright Road.

                    During the 50s' there was also a decorators merchants shop non the corner of Burleigh Road and Kingsthorpe Road.

                    This business was known as Robinsons (I think his name MIGHT have been Harry Robinson). His yard was on the north side of Semilong Road and when

                    the Semilong Road / Burleigh Road junction was altered he moved his business across the road to take over the old cinema site.

                    I hope you don't mind me bringing these points to your attention.    

 

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