Morton history: 1945 to 1953

Notes from Barrington Darby (Local historian):

In 1945, there were 12 or 13 shops plus 3 shoe repairers (known locally as the Cobblers) in Morton, serving a population of possibly around 850 inhabitants. There were also around 12 farms of various sizes in the Village in 1945, most being still very dependent on heavy horses as farm tractors were scarce. Farming methods had changed very little over the past 150 years.

The LMSR (London, Midland and Scottish Railway) controlled Doe Hill Station and all railway traffic along the Erewash Valley Line. The MIDLAND GENERAL provided the village with a reliable bus service, being served by routes C3, D4 and D6.

Morton Colliery Cricket Club was a member of the Derbyshire Minor Cricket League which generally covered the Chesterfield and N.E. Derbyshire area. Opponents included Arkwright Town, Spital, Eckington, Staveley LMS, Cutthorpe and Robinsons.

On 28 August 1946, the Morton Colliery Power House (as it was known) was gutted by fire costing £10,000 worth of damage – a lot of money in 1946. Around the same time fire destroyed the Miners’ Welfare Tennis Club Pavilion.

Towards the end of 1946 farm tractors became more accessible. I remember with particular affection the Fordson Major at Glebe Farm.

The Winter of 1946/7 was one of the worst on record. Exceptionally heavy snowfalls affected almost everything and everybody. Some roads were closed for days which seriously affected food supplies and the distribution of coal. Local Authorities simply had not the necessary equipment to deal with such a magnitude of snow although there was always a sturdy V-shaped wooden snow plough kept on the grass verge between Church Farm and Holland Close. Eventually bulldozers appeared after probably being hired from Opencast Coal Contractors.

Traffic on the LMS main railway line was delayed due to damage to the timber Padley Wood Bridge, almost certainly caused by the sheer weight of the snow. Power lines were brought down in blizzard conditions and buses were stuck in snow drifts. We were compensated for such a hard Winter by a glorious Summer in 1947.

In August 1947, former Morton Cricketer Bill Copson (Derbyshire) played his third and final Test Match for England. This was against South Africa at the Oval, where he opened the bowling with his Derbyshire team mate Cliff Gladwin.

On 30 November 1947, there was a special peal of bells at Morton Church to celebrate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

In 1948, Harry Boot, who already had a shop on Stretton Road, opened another fruit and vegetable shop in New Street. Electricity mains cables were laid and connected in New Street. This spelt the demise of the gas street lights.

Morton Colliery Cricket Club gained entry into the prestigious Derbyshire Cricket League. The playing area had been considerably extended to the west (the Padley Wood end). We could now entertain teams such as Chesterfield, Clay Cross, Grassmoor, Pilsley and Blackwell. Transport to away matches was usually provided by Jack Bower’s taxis.

In mid 1948, BRITISH RAILWAYS painted three ex-LMS JUBILEE CLASS locomotives in an experimental LIGHT GREEN livery. With chocolate and cream coaches to match this really was a welcome “SPLASH OF COLOUR”.

Members of the younger generation eagerly awaited the visit of MORRISES horse drawn ICE CREAM cart from Blackwell, whose arrival was announced by a distinctive whistle.

The steam engine hauled threshing machine visited most farms at harvest time.

Until the arrival of a machine called a Barber-Green in the 1950s, the steam roller still played a major part in road repairs.

Miss Howard, the Headmistress at Morton Primary School, did a permanent exchange with Mrs Jones, the Headmistress at Stonebroom Primary School.

Morton Miners’ Welfare Tennis Club was revived after a new Pavilion had been built and the tennis courts totally resurfaced.

The year of the FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN gave the UK a morale booster after years of austerity.

A new steel-framed footbridge was built over the railway line at Padley Wood.

The Church Pond near the Lych Gate, was filled in, apparently due to the spring which supplied it with water drying up.

A really memorable occasion in 1951 was the wedding at Morton Church of Miss Joan Babington Turbutt of Ogston Hall – top hat and tails, a red carpet and carriage and horses – a splendid sight!

An early morning head on collision between two pedal cyclists on Higham Lane resulted in the death of one. This was 16 years of age Geoffrey Greensmith of Main Road.

In 1951 Revd. Frank Parker Crosse M.C. from Barlborough, succeeded Revd. William Leeke Latham as Rector of Morton.

The Old Village Schoolroom was converted for use as an Old Age Pensioners’ Welfare Club.

“COACHES WELCOME” – and MANSFIELD DISTRICT coaches did indeed call at the LIVE AND LET LIVE en route back to Mansfield after an excursion.

Doe Hill Station (now under B.R. control) was still open, with local stopping trains to Nottingham (southbound) and Sheffield (northbound). On 22 March 1952, there was a special train to Derby for football supporters to watch Derby County play Charlton Athletic.

Freight traffic was particularly heavy, with coal trains (southbound) and iron-ore (northbound).

Captain Guy Jackson officially opened a new pavilion on the Morton Colliery Cricket Ground. A special cricket match followed.

June 2nd 1953 was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Many outdoor village activities were planned but inclement weather adversely affected most of them.

Tommy Talbot was still delivering coal by horse and cart in 1953 thanks mainly to the efforts of Major the faithful Shire horse.

The advent of Martin Cowley and his Race Horse stables at Church Farm brought an element of glamour and excitement to the village scene.

On 2 August 1953 Morton Colliery Cricket Club played what is believed to be the first ever Sunday cricket match at Morton. It was very controversial – consequently several stalwart supporters withdrew their support forthwith.

Road traffic was light and predictable. There were only about 25 motor car owners in the village. It was still possible for a herd of cows to amble along Stretton Road from field to farm (and return) at milking time without causing a major traffic jam.

© Barrington Darby