Saturday, 12 September 2015

Heritage Open Day at the Pearson Centre

I spent this morning at the Pearson Centre, where local groups with stands were taking part in the Beeston Heritage Open Days weekend. I went along to help Judy, the Chairman of Beeston & District Civic Society, but in the end she had plenty of helpers, so I was able to wander off and look at the other stalls and chat with folk. It was all very enjoyable and I took a few photographs. Because I am a 'happy snapper', I do end up with duds and this morning was no different. This time it was Trent & Peak Archaeology and the Boys Brigade who I didn't manage to take decent photographs of. The good news is that I got enough to share here.

Apart from helping to move the Civic Society display a few times, I went outside and help Judy improvise a display of bunting tied to a wheelie bin, in the absence of signage by the Library or on Wollaton Road. The sad truth is that not many folk came to the Pearson Centre, even though is a fantastic venue for this kind of thing. I am absolutely sure that next year will be much better.

This is one part of the Civic Society display. I think it would be better on banners with larger text and images, with a table free for information. Trent & Peak Archaeology did this better than anyone else, but my photograph turned out blurred, so I cannot illustrate the point I am making. Having said this, the Civic Society did a fantastic job organising the History Open Days.

I spent some time talking to Iris Martin of the Beeston Camera Club (above) about an impressive display chronicling the coming of the tram to the west side of Nottingham, with lots of fine photographs, from Toton Lane, through Chilwell and Beeston, across to University Boulevard and beyond the QMC. 

Because it has been (and continues to be) a work in progress, photographs are being added to this very special and important collection regularly, so this was the  biggest display yet. The photographs have been taken by Iris and her husband Derek. I really hope that at some point in the near future some outside body with the money and resources talks to them about sponsoring a proper exhibition. Perhaps Nottingham Express Transit (NET) should. A truly wonderful collection of photographs.

Alan Dance (above) was on the Beeston & District Local History Society tables selling his own historical novels. The only two I was aware of until today were Narrow Marsh and Leen Times. Now I know there are others: The Westbrook Affair; Canary Child and The Chilwell Ghost. You can learn more by visiting Alan's website at

In the centre of the large Pearson Centre hall was a working model railway, complete with a small working steam engine. This little boy was able to get this close by standing on a box. It was such a pity that so few children came into the  Centre whilst I was there. The happiness on this little boy's face says it all really.

BeestonWeek has always had a link to the Greening Beeston website and I have seen them at other events. I am full of admiration for what they are trying to do. They were selling yummy cakes and I managed to catch Jill serving a customer. We spoke about working on a map together, something for me to do when I go into hibernation during the cold and cough months. I like their ideas.

I had a lovely long chat with Steve Austin on the Beeston U3A table. He told me they had nearly 500 members (or was it 400?). Whatever the number was, it is truly impressive by any measure. They run lots of groups, including a local history group and a writing group, and it is this 'apartness' which makes me suspicious of them and I wonder in what way the existing local history and writing groups in Beeston were failing, that U3A felt the need to set up its own 'rival' groups?

As a group they have always given me the feeling that I would not be good enough for them. The Green Party has a similar exclusive air about it, despite having such an outgoing and inclusive person in Caroline Lucas as their MP. Steve contradicts all my feelings about U3A and he is a great ambassador for Beeston U3A.

Finally, my last photograph from this morning and if I had taken no other photograph I would be over the moon. Betty Cliffe is long-time Secretary of the Beeston Workers' Educational Association Branch and I have known her for a good few years now. We attended the same WEA writing class in the Beeston Centre for a long time until Susan and I moving house got in the way and, somehow, I have yet to find the time to go back. 

The WEA is more for the likes of me and I have been attending WEA classes on and off since I was a teenager in Wembley. I am going to attend a course about maps this autumn in the Pearson Centre and Susan is going along to a family history course in Beeston Library.

Betty is a great role model and someone I hold in high regard. I always enjoy her company and this photograph is very much the Betty I know. I think her personality shines through and I am very pleased with it. When I think about today in the future I will think about Betty and the little boy so happy to be watching the model train and clapping his hands every time the engine passed by (another photo which was blurred I am sorry to say).

I was going to meet Susan at the Wollaton Road allotments at one o'clock, but the heavens opened and in the thirty seconds it took me to put my waterproof jacket on I got soaked, so instead I went into the Allotments, bought two sausage burgers and took them home — hence my posting these pics so soon.

Today is one of those days I will always remember, when asked the question 'Where were you the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party'. We also have a friend's 70th birthday gathering this evening. Someone I have worked with closely over the years in countless community campaigns during our thirty-five years in Lenton. 

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