Early Life

Ollerton

I was born in a nursing home in Nottingham 20 miles from my parents’ house at Ollerton on May 5th. 1937.  Ollerton hall was a Queen Anne mansion on the outskirts of a small medieval village which had a pub  (the Hop Pole) and a church and a mill. There was a pond in the middle of the village and it  was a cross roads just outside the remaining section of Sherwood forest of Robin Hood fame and the major oak where Robin hood hid.  The overall area was called the Dukeries because of the landowners who were the Dukes of Newcastle (Rufford Abbey, Duke of Portland and … Byron had a house in Newstead abbey close by with a famous ghostly dog who walked scratched or howled..

My Father had come to live in the hall which was associated with a family called M… and had had a novel written about it in the 19C.   due to being the manager of the pit at Ollerton.

The Butterley company which had been run by the Wright family ever since John Wright (a banker in Nottingham (now the Lloyds bank) had become a partner with Benjamin Outram and  Henry or William Jessop engineers and canal drivers. They founded the company at the bottom of Butterley Hill outside Ripley near Alfreton Derbyshire. in 179O.  His money had ensured the survival of the company during the depression which followed the Napoleonic wars and the Company had  branched out into iron founding, and developed into bridge and train shed building (St. Pancras Station London).  It had also developed in the 19C interest in coal mines and brick-making.  The pits were in Notts Mansfield way, but after the First World War the company along with  other companies began to look at the  possibility of  a new pits into Deep Hard seam under the Dukeries.  This deep seam was very productive so Ollerton in the 1924 or so was chosen as the site for the company pit.  Having got his manager’s certificate at Nottingham University after the War in which he had been in  the  army and the air force, my father applied for the job of manager to the family Firm.  The anti catholicism of the family (his father had married and Irish Catholic, Sarah Hughes and become a rather luke warm Catholic himself) would have prevented him becoming appointed by his uncle Leslie, but the Mining agent, Ed Mitten  (whose grandson, Michael was an important figure in Anglican Renewal in the 1990s) was impressed and appointed him.  The pit was sunk after difficulties with water , the first sod having been cut by Mary Wright (Bradley) in c.1928.  From this time My father was in charge not only of the pit but also the Mining community which grew up around it.  He had clear ideas of the standards he wanted in the village, of the way the community should grow and develop.  He not only encouraged work for the girls and women, but also developed the sporting interests for the men with brass bands, football, cricket etc.  He was the member for the area on the Notts county council, a special constable in the war, but he was careful to allow  only the Spencer Union not the NUM to work among the colliers – the Spencer union had been a moderate union wanting to work with management without confrontation, while the NuM was more socialist and combative.   In the 1980 miners strike, the Notts coalfield went on working partly due to the influence of the Spencer union which still remained in the coalfield. For further details of may Father’s work in Ollerton see Dukeries Restored ? by… which was an Oxford monograph in the 1980 drawing on the archives which my Father’s secretary George Scott had organised and sent to the Derby country archives.