Questions answered with new Ilkeston & District Local History Society book celebrating 50 years

Published on: Wednesday, 28th September 2016

Who was Stanley Hawley? What was remarkable about Kirk Hallam Infants School? Where was Igo’s Lodging House?  How did Club Row come to be built?

And why did Dr Buchanan complain that he had never smelled anything as bad as the privies and ash-pits of Ilkeston?

These and many more questions are answered in Ilkeston – As It Was: its History in 50 Chapters, the new book published by the Ilkeston and District Local History Society.   Written by members Ann Featherstone and Beverley Kilby, with a specially commissioned cover design by local artist Marion Axford, to celebrate the Society’s 50 years, it has its official launch on Saturday, 8th October 2016 at the U-Choose Smoothie Bar on Bath Street, starting at 10.00am.

The book is an unusual format and a new departure for the Society. There are 50 chapters, each taking a different topic in Ilkeston’s history, from British Restaurants to Windmills to the Beauty Spot and the Mines Rescue.  It delves back into the 16th century and the Weaver Pool, the 18th century for St Mary’s clock and comes up to date with the Spitfire Fund of the 1940s and the building of Kirk Hallam Infant School in the 1950s.

Little known regions and buildings are uncovered: the soot factory on Rutland Street, the Empress Theatre and The Nook, a house on Wilmot Street which has become part of the HSBC bank.  Local people’s recollections of the sounds and smells of Ilkeston have been gathered using the ‘Il’son Bygones’ group on Facebook, and they have also contributed to the chapter about pre-fab housing, recalling their homes on Erewash Square.

The authors are keen that their book encourages Ilkeston people to be curious about the history of their town and wonder why, for example, the cenotaph stands in its present position and how the Croft Yard Reservoir on Pimlico came to be built.  In the course of their research and writing the book, they’ve come across some wonderful stories about the town, as well as unearthing little known information.  That, they say, has been the joy of working on Ilkeston – As It Was.  From polar bears at the Beauty Spot to the First World War exploits of brave local women, Ilkeston proves itself over and over to be an extraordinary town.


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