Visitors to our open coffee mornings at the U-Choose Smoothie Bar on the last Saturday of each month often bring things into show and share. These are some of the items we’ve seen recently.

From Grant Shaw

One Saturday morning in (I think) 1974 my nine year old self and my parents queued for it seemed like hours outside the Town Hall.

Ilkeston crockery

We were not at the start of the queue, which snaked up Wharncliffe Road to the main entrance on the Market Place.

The doors opened and people went in. They came out holding large items of white Minton china with the Corporation arms in gold. Soup tureens, vegetable dishes, large plates . . . the queue eventually let us inside to a rapidly emptying table from which those in the queue were being handed one item each. Unfortunately that meant cup OR saucer.

Fortunately there were a few of us so I now have two plates and a complete cup and saucer. But if we’d been there a bit earlier I might have inherited an Ilkeston Corporation soup tureen. I can only imagine it was the new Erewash Borough Council getting rid of everything relating to the ‘old’ Ilkeston Corporation. It seems a bit short sighted today. I would be very interested to hear what bits of civic crockery any other members managed to pick up all those years ago.

Goodbye, Bessy Ling, goodbye

Sheet music

This is a surprise: sheet music written and published in Ilkeston.

The melody and arrangement was by Amos Buxton, who was, at least before the Great War, a fitter at the Oakwook Colliery.

The lyricist was William Noon, who had spent most of his working life as an entrepreneur in the lace trade. He lived in Bennerley Avenue, just round the corner from his factory in Cotmanhay Road.

Although we don't know when it was written, the song was published in 1920. It’s a standard waltz that harks back to a style that was being overtaken by the newer fashion for popular music coming from America, penned by the likes of Gershwin, Porter and Berlin.

That is not to denigrate the composition. Its chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, with a short instrumental introduction and breaks, gives more than enough opportunity for the authors to repeat phrases and melody lines. And there’s a hint of a similar tune that’s just out of memory. Playing on the family (or pub) piano could soon establish it as a singalong favourite. Be warned: it’s what today is called an earworm — once it’s in your head it’s difficult to get out.

But what of the third party in this piece. Bessy Ling doesn’t seem to be the sort of name that would pop easily into an author’s mind, but who can tell? Can it be a coincidence that Elizabeth Ling, a silk winder, had lived in Larklands Avenue less than half a mile from Park Drive? In 1920 she would have been 27, while William and Amos were 60 and 40 respectively. We may never know.

One more unanswered question: Did they write any more?

  Good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye; good-bye, Bessy Ling, don’t sigh.
  I am leaving you behind, but you’ll always bear in mind.
  When I’ve climbed the roll of fame, you’ll find that I’m just the same.
  I’ll come back and change your name, good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye!

Good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye; good-bye, Bessy, dear,
How ever dark and black the skies, and whatever storm arise
I’ll be thinking of the time when I am ever thine
And you are ever mine, good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye!

Good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye, love; good-bye, Bessy dear,
When I’m up on the mighty deep and your eyes are sealed in sleep,
Rest assured that I’ll be there, on the wings of love and prayer
And in your dreams I’ll reappear, good-bye, Bessy Ling, good-bye!

A Little Hallam wedding The photograph arrived in the same package as Bessy Ling. All we were told is that it recorded a marriage on Little Hallam Hill near the Bull’s Head. The gentleman’s frock coat and topper were used on formal occasions from the end of the 19th century into the 1920s, but the wedding gown and the large hat suggests that it is between 1905 and 1915.

There were three or four eligible bachelors in Little Hallam at the time and two weddings.

The first likely candidates are Samuel Parker and Miriam Cole Hinchley. His family ran Little Hallam Farm; she was from Newthorpe, the daughter of a charwoman and worked as a bottle maker at the Eastwood Brick and Pottery Company. While involved in the farm, George also trained as a butcher and later had a shop on Nottingham Road. At the time of their wedding in 1914, he was 27 and she was 20.

Alternatively, it could be Benjamin Tatham who was the licensee at the Bull’s Head. He had started his working life as a lacemaker in Ilkeston. His wife, Edith Mary Hallam, was the neice of the hosts at the Gladstone Inn in Market Street. Another aunt was a draper and milliner. They were married in 1909 when he was 39 and she 23.

But it could be an entirely different couple. If anyone knows any better, please let us know.