Morton history: 1962 to 1965
May 1st 1962 was the Centenary of the opening of the Erewash Valley Extension which brought the Midland Railway Line to Doe Hill and northward to Clay Cross.
In October 1962, the famous steam engine 46100 ROYAL SCOT was withdrawn from service to be scrapped, (but was in fact purchased by Billy Butlin and preserved). It had been allocated to Nottingham MPD (Motive Power Depot) since 7 November 1959, and during this period it would almost certainly pass through Morton several times on main line expresses.
The street lighting in Morton was switched off every night around 11.15pm. Consequently, returning home late after an evening out, particularly on foot, the village streets appeared very dark.
The Winter of 1962/63 was particularly severe. The amount of snow which fell was not really exceptional, but the deep penetrating frost certainly was, continuing well into 1963.
More people were now becoming owners of a motor car, consequently, if the family car was a standard model without a heater, travelling conditions could be really unpleasant. The fitting of a demister on the windscreen inside the car could help matters considerably.
The year 1963 brought several Centenaries of interest.
The first Morton School opened on 1 2 January 1 863, adjacent to the Church. Known as the Old Dames School where 40 children attended paying 3 pence each per week. On a personal note this included my Grandfather, George William Cox who attended the school from 1880 to 1884.
In March 1863, the lime tree outside the Sitwell Arms was planted to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales. Upon the death of Queen Victoria he became King Edward Vll.
Also in 1863, the Horse Chestnut tree was planted in the triangle opposite the War Memorial. The tree was moved from the Churchyard on a trolley. Apparently, during the process, both slipped into the prepared hole and consequently were ‘planted’ together.
The summer of 1963, which did arrive after the icicles had disappeared, was Morton CCC’s last season in the once prestigious Derbyshire Cricket League after rejoining in 1948. Prior to which Morton CCC was a member of the Derbyshire Minor League.
Although Morton CCC was a member of the Derbyshire Cricket League in the 1890s, in recent years there has been a gradual drift of clubs away from the Derbyshire League to the Bassettlaw League, thus undermining the Derbyshire’s very existence. After this season there would be no more expeditions into North East Derbyshire or treks over Mosborough Moor to play against our friends in Frecheville, over the border in Yorkshire.
The new Rector of Morton was the Revd. E.N. Kemp, a Canadian who replaced the Revd. D.J. White. The Rector arrived with his five children but without his wife. Apparently the family virtually camped inside the Rectory. People in the village described the Rector’s wife as a ‘Townie’ who never really settled here.
Almost every year there were rumours of the impending closure of Morton Colliery (the former Clay Cross Co. No.5). The rumours always appeared unfounded and life carried on as normal – at least for a while!
In 1964, the population of the village totalled 887.
The Rector of Morton, Revd. E.N. Kemp, left Morton to live in Canada. Where, having camped in Morton Rectory in 1963, he no doubt found it warmer in Canada!
The Revd. E.N. Kemp was replaced by Rev. E.B. Teale as the Rector of Morton. Coming from the South of England Rev. Teale found the climate here cold at first, but he said the warm welcome he received compensated for this.
Corner Pin Motors (Randles) was established on 1 8 September. The year 1964, was Morton CCC’s first Season in the recently reformed Derbyshire Cricket Alliance. This covered the Alfreton, Riddings, Codnor, Selston, Jacksdale and Ripley area.
In the 1964 Season Morton CCC used the new practice wicket for the first time. Situated adjacent to the Ash Tree in the SW corner of the ground, from where an old orchard had been cleared, it consisted of rubberlike matting laid on a concrete foundation. About the same time the playing area of the Cricket Ground was extended by a few yards to the south, at the Back Lane End.
In the Mid 1960s’ the Revd McNare had moved into Rectory Cottage, after having recently retired from Bath Abbey. He probably found it difficult to retire completely as from time to time he was called upon to take a service at Morton Church. He was a keen cricket enthusiast and was often seen watching Morton play on a Saturday afternoon. I believe he eventually emigrated to join his son in New Zealand.
Steam engines, a familiar sight and sound on British Railways for so long, were now being replaced in rapidly increasing numbers by diesels.
Officially 1965 was the Centenary Year of the Morton Colliery and Morton Colliery Cricket Club. Unfortunately, this was something which was almost totally overshadowed by the announcement of the closure of Morton Colliery. The Colliery officially closed on 14th May 1965, after exactly one hundred years. The threat of closure, which had hung over Morton Colliery like the Sword of Damocles for so long, had now become a reality.
The workforce was transferred to Arkwright, Ireland, Markham, Silver Hill and Teversal Collieries. It must have been a very sad time for a vast number of people, although many others had seen the danger signs and found work elsewhere. A few men remained at Morton Colliery to help with dismantling work.
Morton has existed since long before the arrival of the Colliery Era, and in recent times there has always been a percentage of people employed in other types of jobs. Consequently, in that sense Morton is not a typical mining village.
On 3rd July 1965, Ken Barlow of ITV’s Coronation Street opened the Morton Church Garden Party.
For a short while a number of Pit Ponies were given a taste of fresh air and freedom, when they were allowed to graze on the non-playing area of the Morton Cricket Ground.