Morton history: 1953 to 1958

Notes from Barrington Darby (Local historian):

In the years 1949 to 1953 Morton Colliery Cricket Club had a strong 1ST XI in the DERBYSHIRE LEAGUE, DIVISION ONE, also a good 2ND XI in DIVISION THREE. There were some exciting matches and some interesting players in both teams. I remember one particular DIVISION ONE game, when players of the visiting team, when fielding, sat down on the field and refused to continue until barracking from a certain section of the Morton crowd ceased. This was due to a controversial umpiring decision.

Titled Express trains which passed through the village daily were, THE WAVERLEY (London St. Pancras to Edinburgh Waverley) and THE THAMES-CLYDE EXPRESS (London St. Pancras to Glasgow St. Enoch).

On September 8th 1954, Victor Statham aged 10 years of Sitwell Villas, died as a result of a road accident whilst trainspotting from the road bridge at Stretton Station. He was almost certainly there to see the Northbound DEVONIAN EXPRESS, which passed through Stretton Station around tea-time.

In October 1954, the MIDLAND GENERAL introduced the BRISTOL LODEKKA bus on to route D4 Ripley – Morton – Chesterfield. This revolutionary bus design transformed the travelling comfort of top deck passengers on low-bridge routes, such as the D4, simply by eliminating the sunken gangway and long bench-type seats on the top deck. This was important as buses were well patronised at this time.
Demolition commenced of properties in the BIG YARD. Initially, this consisted of numbers 4 to 18 New Street (even numbers) also numbers 20 and 22 New Street, which were not part of the BIG YARD.

At this time the village centre always appeared a busy place during the daytime. Not with cars, but with people on foot, walking to the shops, school, work, public house or for a multitude of reasons, even just for the fun of it.

Building alterations to Morton House (Morton Miners’ Welfare) took place, which included a new roof on the main building, and the former Billiard Room converted to become part of the main bar.

Full milk churns from 3 farms were placed on the pavement at the junction of Church Lane and Higham Lane, to be collected by Flinthams of Newark-on-Trent’s Bedford Milk Lorry. The ‘milk cheque’ for milk produced was vitally important income.

Particularly in summer, grass or farm stack fires occurred usually dealt with by the Clay Cross Fire Brigade. Heralded by the Clay Cross Fire Station siren, the progress of the fire tender could then be heard as it sounded its BELL along the A61 towards Morton.

Bob Hill of Rose Cottage, Church Lane, died after being struck by a motor vehicle when crossing the A61 road near the Turbutt Arms at Stretton, intending to catch a late night bus to Morton.

It was possible in the mid 1950’s, to purchase a RETURN TICKET to London, (St. Pancras) from Doe Hill Station for 39 shillings. Well before the end of the decade the price had increased to 42 shillings.

The Morton Holy Cross Church Garden Party was always an important date on the Village Calendar of events.

Work started on a new Chesterfield Rural District Council Housing Estate, on former Glebe land, to the west of the Evershill Lane and Stretton Road Junction.

Late in the year demolition commenced of Rose Cottage on Church Lane, the centuries old former White Horse Inn, which I still consider was an act of sheer vandalism!

By 1957, Morton CCC 1ST XI had been relegated to DIVISION TWO of the DERBYSHIRE LEAGUE, and were in the process of rebuilding the team. In those days when funds permitted, Dimbleby’s Coaches of Ashover, were used to transport the team to certain away matches.

Extensive building alterations took place to Morton Rectory, by Wildgoose Ltd. of Matlock. During the alterations it was revealed by the Architect, that the North-West corner of the West Wing, built in 1570, had in fact been built around a half-timbered building estimated to date from between 1425 to 1475.

The August 1957 Morton Church Magazine reported the sad departure of Mr Harold Froggatt, the very popular Post Master at Morton Post Office.

Mr Martin Cowley of Church Farm Morton, really put ‘Morton on the Map’, when his racehorse SANDIACRE won the CHESTER GOLD CUP. Trained by W. Dutton and ridden by the famous jockey LESTER PIGGOTT.

An ancient gritstone font, said to be the original Saxon Morton Church font, was removed from Ashover Churchyard and brought to Morton. Although the font was out of use, this action caused a great deal of strife between the two parishes. Ultimately, the font was placed in Morton Holy Cross Church and dedicated by Mr. E. C. Clayton to the memory of his late wife.

After having had a good season in 1958, Morton CCC 1ST XI won promotion to DIVISION ONE of the DERBYSHIRE LEAGUE for the 1959 Season.

© Barrington Darby