The High School Hell’s Angels, Chapter 3

One fascinating thing which I found recently were all those old books which have been transcribed onto DVDs. They are sold on ebay in their hundreds. Some are not necessarily what I would want to read “Masonic Library, 430 Freemasons Books”, “Ukulele & Banjo, 29 Rare Vintage Books” and “Taxidermy, Vintage books on DVD – Stuffing and Mounting Animals, Birds, Insects and Fish”
I was happy to buy though, “76 Books, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Mickleover, Headon, History Genealogy DVD”. It contains a lot about the history of Nottingham although the rest was not of much interest to me. That DVD, and another very similar one about Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, have provided me with a lot of information about the past. Above all, they have allowed me access to a number of different directories of Nottingham. So far I have, for example, the Pigot’s Directory for Nottingham for 1828 and 1841, the White’s Directory for 1832, 1864 and 1885, the MacDonald’s Directory for 1931, Slater’s for 1847, Wright’s for 1879 and Kelly’s for 1881, 1891, 1904 and 1928:

They are interesting in that they all tend to contain slightly different things, but basically they list all of the tradespeople in Nottingham, all of the business premises in the city, and the names of the occupants of all the different houses in all the streets of Nottingham.

So you might find a list of the city’s streets in alphabetical order, or all the people similarly listed, while other directories will provide the names of all the engineers, all the grocers. all the bicycle repairers and so on. It means that if you know Uncle George was a restaurant owner, you can often find out both where his business was and where he lived. And that may point you to the right place in a census. Very useful if you’re trying to trace your ancestors.
The directories also enable you to trace some of the changes in the use of individual buildings, buildings that you may walk past every day but don’t know the history of. One example would be the two premises on Derby Road, up near Canning Circus. One is called “Quality 4 Students” with the slogan “Top 365 Student Homes” :

Next door, painted all white, there is what is now the “Park Hair Salon”. Here’s a view from further back:

In 1928, the Park Hair Salon used to be the Headquarters of the Robin Hood Rifles, a local infantry regiment:

They used to have some wild, wild parties:

After that the building was derelict for a while and then it became “Butcher Brothers, House Furnishers”.

By 1928, both buildings had become the shop of AR Warren & Son, Grocers. I find all that fairly fascinating but more to the point perhaps, the directories also enabled me to uncover the humble beginnings of Alfred Highfield Warren, who was the “& Son” of “AR Warren & Son” mentioned above.  Alfred was an ex-pupil of Nottingham High School, and thanks to the High School, he was to move from being the son of a grocer to being the holder of an Open Exhibition at Worcester College, Oxford, a Nottingham City Scholarship to Oxford University of £50 per annum, and from the High School, a Sir Thomas White Senior Exhibition.

On Mansfield Road, there is nowadays the “A & D Dental Practice Ltd” and the “City Chicken Cafe”. In front of the Dental Practice is a bus stop used by hundreds and hundreds of High School boys every day…

And here is the City Chicken Café, sworn enemies of Dixy Chicken just two doors away and probably not too much in love with the Istanbul Off Licence next door.

But in 1928, these two businesses, the “A & D Dental Practice Ltd” and the “City Chicken Cafe”, were the premises of LW King, a Draper who lived there with his family. That family included his son William King, a High School pupil, who became a pilot in the RAF in World War II. Alas, poor William was to die, with all his colleagues, in a catastrophic air crash in a Handley Page Hampden. Here is ‘Before’:

And here, far too often I’m afraid, is ‘After’

How many times have I walked or driven past those two businesses, but without realising they were previously the home of a young war hero? And how often do we do that in our everyday lives?






Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, Nottingham, Politics, The High School

15 responses to “The High School Hell’s Angels, Chapter 3

  1. Fascinating, John. I hadn’t known about books on DVDs

    • If you have a particular interest you can google, say, “Railway timetables book on DVD” and while it doesn’t work all the time, there is often something that crops up. On ebay I bought a DVD with around 50 Victorian books on birdwatching, far too expensive to buy as books, and got the lot for about £6. And Kelly’s guides are totally fascinating. You can trace all the people who used to live in your house, for example.

  2. Great research and a wonderfully crafted post. I enjoyed it.

  3. Another fabulous and informative post John. It’s great to research the history of local premises only to find out a heroic person lived there many years before. We are, no doubt, all guilty of unknowingly walking past one of them at some point in our lives.

    • Thanks very much. We used to go to Cornwall every year and we often visited a place called Porthleven east of Penzance. And then one year we noticed a plaque had been put up which said, more or less “Guy Gibson used to come here on his holidays”. I suspect that lots of places have hidden histories like that, and indeed, lots of people do too.

  4. This post stirred up some memories for me John. I used to walk down a street called Victoria Road in Swindon on the way to work. One Sunday, with my dad, he pointed out an Italian restaurant, over which was a splendid looking Victorian house. Something you wouldn’t notice with your nose in an iPhone. Dad explained to me that was the ancestral family home and that my Great Grandfather had been one of the Foremen in the Railway works in the town, which was a well-paid position in those days.

    All of my family dating back to the earliest days of the founding of the railway in Swindon had lived in that house and worked on the Railway. My Grandfather was one of 9 who worked in the works.

    Dad and I decided to have a meal in there one evening. To our surprise there was seating on the first floor, and we got a table near the bay window in the front bedroom. We surmised that this was great grandfather and mother’s bedroom and that my dad’s, dad may have been conceived there!

    That was a strange experience. But I felt privileged to be given the chance to sit in the family home. Albeit with diners, waiters and kitchen staff!

    Thanks for the memories John, and thanks for reminding us to stop and look up once in a while.

    • What a marvellous story! I hadn’t even thought about the role of iPhones. I sometimes suspect that if there is ever an alien invasion, a lot of young people will not notice the flying saucers hovering over their lawn until Facebook has told them to go to the window and look out!

  5. It is fascinating to know what happened before us. I was surprised by a set of photos in Neales auctioneers showing Lawrence of Arabia visiting the Brough factory on Haydn Road – just round the corner from here! 🙂

  6. Very interesting John, if I had the time this could be something to do around my own neck of the woods. Right now I’ll stick to enjoying your post.

    • Yes, I know. I couldn’t do this except for the fact that I am retired. I am also limited to the Internet and I can’t go off to London looking through archive material because I simply can’t afford it. There’s lot on the Internet although I hadn’t realised that on occasion pages actually seem to die and you can’t go back to them. That’s called “Learning the hard way”.

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