The Clifton Colliery and the power station just across the
River Trent from Wilford, were easy to locate, prime industrial targets.
Bombs meant for the colliery damaged Wilford School, demolished a cottage
close to the village air raid shelter and an unexploded bomb had to be
defused by the army after it fell close to the large private house that
is now the 'Chateau' restaurant.
Wilford Air Raid Shelter On The Village Green
(Demolished In The Early 1970's )
||Wilford Air Raid
Nottingham was the target of a number of air attacks by
Germany during the 'Blitz' of World War II. Although certainly
not as heavily bombed as other industrial centers such as London and Coventry,
the cities suffered many casualties. The largest raid took place
on the 8th of May, 1941 in which 400 bombs and 60 incendiaries were estimated
to have hit the city and surrounding areas. Some of them landed in
Kieth Rivington recalled '...a landmine was dropped at
the first house at the end of the bee-bank opposite the school and another
was dropped right next to the air raid shelter at the botton of Coronation
Ave, opposite the Ferry Inn, with another one on the laundry over the
bridge. Also a returning bomber crashed in the tennis courts between
Coronation and Vernon Ave.'
The Evening Post recently quoted Patricia Murphey's account of the raid.
'...I also remember seeing a German parachutist whose plane crashed in a field near the Ferry Inn at Wilford. I was
at a friends house ... and we could see a parachute coming down. I went to see the crashed plane later, but I don't
know what happened to the pilot who baled out.'
The school clock was paid for by surplus flood
aid money raised to assist Wilford in 1875.
Wilford School, Novemeber 1996
Wilford benefited greatly from the generosity of Benjamin
Carter, the rector of St.Wilfrids Church in the early 18th century. He
spent a considerable amount of his own money improving the village. He
renovated the church, stocked it with expensive books, built a village
barn, a dovecote, a large rectory building and a village school.
The school was constructed in 1736. The Reverend
provided £400 for land investment to provide a permanent income for
the schools maintenance and running costs.
The building was substantially upgraded in 1886
and is still in use today as a primary school run by the
Nottinghamshire County Council.
|Gilbert Wakefield was a remarkable scholar educated at
the school. He has mastered complex spelling by the age of three! He went
on to write over fifty books and became a controversial and fanatical supporter
of well intentioned causes. He was so outspoken and careless of the consequences
that in 1799 he was prosecuted for libel and sent to prison for two years.
The Reverends dovecote was built in 1720 and acted as
a constant supply of fresh meat. Pigeons breed throughout the year and
therefore were invaluable during the winter months.
Wilford Rectory & The Dovecote
In The Foreground (Late 1996)
|The Smiths Of Wilford House
The Smith family were a prominant and well respected family
in Wilford for just under 100 years. The Smiths founded what is today the
National Westminster Bank. They lived at Wilford House, a large rectangular
Grade II listed building at the cross roads at Wilford Lane
Wilford House was renovated and expanded a few years ago and is now used
for business by one of Britains largest firm of Quantity Surveyors.
In 1960, a Mrs Bailey wrote an essay on her memeories
of Wilford village and describes the Smith family. 'The Smith
family played a large part in the life of the village. They were
very devout and had their own Chapel in the grounds ( of Wilford House
). The family employed a number of men to tour the district selling
Bibles. These "Colporteurs" were lodged in a house in Withans Yard,
called the "Pilgrims House". In a summer house in the gardens of
Wilford House are memorials to these men. The mansion was later bought
by the Forman family (the founders of the Evening Post) and is now
converted into flats. The old stables (opposite Wilford House) have
been turned into garages for the fleet of vans of the local newspaper'.
(1708-1874) Member Of Parliament for Aldborough & St. Ives.
Established the Lincoin & Hull Banks.
Built Wilford House in 1781.
Samuel Smith (1784-1874)
Member Of Parliament for St. Germain & Leicester
Henry Smith (1796-1874)
Sheriff Of Nottingham in 1841.
Lady Lucy Smith (1794-1865) Wife of Henry Smith who
throughout her life devoted her energies to those in
need. She would spend two hours each morning
on the steps of Wilford Hall
attending to the poor.
Henry Abel Smith (1826-1870) Held Position Of High Sheriff
Of Nottingham in 1886 and was very active in
charity work. It was Henry Smith who provided St. Wilfrid's church
with an organ.
Sir Henry Smith
Held post of Governor General of Australia from 1965 for a number of years.
Wilford Ghost Stories
On the southern outskirts of Wilford, near Silverdale
and the old (recently filled in ) railway bridge is a small, tidy, modern
industrial estate. One of the buildings is alleged to be haunted. Employees
have experienced unpowered machines operating themselves, lights switching
on and off and mysterious foot steps echoing on the ceiling.
Another ghost story is linked to the now long demolished
power station on the north bank of the Trent, not far from St.Wilfrids
Church. On the night shift of November 1967, Sam Pykett encountered
a small figure 'wearing a check shirt, a blue bib overall and a cap....(with)
wide-set blue eyes'. The figure smiled at him before it turned
away to disapear into a closed door. Others working in the plant
were to report sightings of the ghost at irregular intervals.
An area around Melbourne, Australia was allegedly named
Wilford in 1839 by two imigrants from Nottingham, Dr Godfrey Hewitt and
his brother Richard Hewitt. I have been unable to find a modern reference
to this but if you know better please drop me a line.
He donated £50,000 to the Nottingham hospital, purchased
the Nottingham war memorial, payed £200,000 for the construction
of a Nottingham boulevard, £50,00 for the purchase of Woodthorpe
Park and £150,000 for the construction of the Nottingham University
after paying for the University land. Phenomenal sums
of money for the time. His companies success and his charitable donations
contributed greatly to the prosperity, status and well-being of Nottingham.
His actions earned him a Knighthood and eventually a pierage as Lord Trent
in 1929. In 1908 his generosity extended to Wilford when he
payed for the construction of a set of Almhouses adjacent to Wilford Green.
The Almhouses were built for invalided or destitute soldiers returning
from the Crimean War and the Indian mutiny. To read more
about Almhouses, click on the Clifton
Green Page. Lord Trent died in 1931.
On the North banks of the Trent, to the North East of
Clifton Bridge is a monolithic, dark, aircraft hanger of a building which
serves as the Boots Pharmaceutical factory. Wilford is linked to
the site by the Nottingham businessman who built up Boots in the 19th century,
Jesse Boot. Jesse left school in 1860 at the age of ten to help run
the small Nottingham herbalist shop set up by his late father. Jesse
demonstrated a keen business sense and by 1917 he'd expanded the small
shop to 600 retail outlets. He shared in his success by donating
enormous sums of money to worthy causes both in and outside of Nottingham.
Wilford Alms Houses, 1997
Photographed By Colin Fossey
The village culture is well represented by the quaint
events that were organized to celebrate the coronation of Edward the VII
in 1902. The program of events listed below serve as a reminder to
the close community spirit that existed in villages such as Wilford before
the age of mass communication and commuter travel. It somehow
illustrates to me how the world seemed so much larger in those days.
In the pre-war years, a local newspaper called the Nottingham Journal used to hold
a 'Big Swim' contest. A day of events at Trent Bridge focused on a marathon
swimming race from the Wilford Church all the way to the finishing post at the Bridge.
Few people would be brave enougth to risk the strong currents today! In later years
speed boat racing also became a regular event. Nottingham people didn't seem to think of
the dangers the Trent presented in those days. Another popular contest
was a pillow fight where the combatants would suspend themselves over the river on a greasy pole!
The Wilford suspension Bridge was also a popular source of entertainment for children who in the summer would
use it as a spring-board to dive into the river. I wounder if todays sports and entertainment
will seem as hazardous to future generations!
For a flavour of village culture you might also find the Mayday celebrations
on my Clifton
Village Green page interesting.
CORONATION OF KING
South Wilford Celebrations
Friday, June 27th, 1902
3 Prizes Will Be Given For Each Event
10 O'Clock Children fall in at school, receive their
medals and parade up
village to the Top Green and return to Church.
11 O'Clock Service at Church
2 O'Clock Sports in Church Meadow
Maypole Dance by school children.
yards race (open)
yards race for men over 50.
yards race for boys under 10
yards sack race (open)
yards race for girls under 10
yards race for men over 30
yards egg & spoon race for women (open)
yards skipping race for girls over 11
yards wheelbarrow race
wheeler to be blindfolded (open)
yards race for boys over 10 & under 16
yards race for girls over 10 & under 16
mile race (open)
yards race for women under 30
yards race for women over 30
yards skipping race for girls under 11
A BAND WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE FROM 2 TO 10 P.M.
4 O'Clock Tea to commence. After tea finish events
on the sports list.
8 O'Clock Cinematograph Exhibition, by Mr. C. Taylor,
optician, Bridlesmith Gate, in the Rectory Barn.