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Personal Memories

Peg Shipman’s notes on Harby Village


The village lies on the south side of St Mary’s Church, dated about 1184.

It is believed the village existed originally around the church but since the black plague the villagers vacated the north side, and established themselves to the south.

The next oldest building is the Nag’s Head, which most probably was inhabited by monks who supported the church.

This is very old, well timbered house, no doubt thatched at one time, stands on a point or convergence of roads which were very important in the past.

A road from the city of Nottingham, meeting a road from Waltham on the Wolds (important for its horse fairs years ago).

These two roads ran onto Bingham and Newark also to the crossing of the Trent at Gunthorpe.

According to Nicholson’s history of 1760 (or thereabouts) the importance of Harby was the production of agricultural goods (grain ie wheat, beans, barley and beef).

Most people worked on the land at that time.

The canal, built about 1792, brought a new aspect to life, (also, new people came into Harby).

(Query- did the surname Manchester come with people following the work of the canal?)

On the canal were built several businesses.

A brewery was established near the Langar Road Canal Bridge.

Also a coal wharf.

A new windmill was built (with large warehouses) near the Colston Bassett Road Bridge.

The original windmill was on John Mackley’s Hose Road Farm.

The White Hart Inn was built to accommodate the workers and bargees (and their horses) who were on the canal.

The stables at the White Hart were built for barge horses.

The next change in Harby was the coming of the railways.

Harby and Stathern was an important junction station.

The Church sold most of its glebe land to the railway.

The Exchange Row was built by the railway on land which belonged to the Rector (for the benefit of the church).

It was known as Thorney Bark hence Bark Row.

The houses originally were mud and thatch.

An old man about 20 years ago told me he could remember in the years around 1890 and before, he could remember the farers bringing faggots of twigs and brash to fill the deep ruts in the Nether Street.

The Blacksmith’s Forge stood at the lower end of School Lane (opposite the present Garage}.

No doubt he did a good trade.

There were also three carpenters, one near Diamond Cottage Nether Street, one in Green Lane at Rutland Villa.

The Wheelwrights were the Martins.

The Bakers were also Martins where Mr….(looks like Claud) Rawlins lives).

Also, the Watchhorns (where Miss Freda Lane lives).

Also a butcher’s there.

The other butchers shop was Jackson’s Farm Mr George Dewey’s).

in Dickman’s Lane a general store and tinsmith’s were kept by Mr Dickman at Ambleside.

Dove Cottage was a Dame’s school (100 years ago 2d per week was paid for a little child of 3 years).

A general small shop was kept where Mr? (the …. Taxin? Man) was opposite Walker’s Farm. This farm known as Manor Farm, had a very old house now replaced by Mr Walker’s modern house.

The most probably oldest house still inhabited belongs to Mrs Butcher, Mr Chambers and Mr Gregory.

This intriguing house could well have been the original Manor. Definitely a farm house at one time. The house contains large oak beams ( one inscribed with Latin letters and numerals), and a baker’s oven. And the oldest window in Harby (above Mrs Butcher’s conservatory).

Elder House was a farm house the Shipman’s farmed there, and the cows walked up and down Dickman’s Lane every day to the fields that Mr John Mackley has near Ridgeways.

Harby is well known for the production of famous Stilton Cheese,

Before the factories were built, most of the farm houses made their own cheeses for sale at Melton Mowbray Grantham and Nottingham.

Cheese was made at the Hall, the Poplars, The Croft (Trevor Coy’s). The Lodge Farm (Mrs Pick’s). Cross House, The Chestnuts and Sherbrooke House and Starbuck House.

The oldest farmhouse, unfortunately lost fire early Feb 1983, was made of mud with very thick walls some were two feet thick most probably a gallery house.

ie Galleries each end for the beds.

Most of the oldest cottages were built in the 14th century of mud on Ironstone foundations.

Ironstone was very precious being brought down from Eastwell and Eaton.

No doubt carried in hand made slings.

Trevellian Cottage is probably one of the last mud cottages. Kemp’s Cottage and Miss Rawlinson’s Cottage are 2 more.

Mr Trevor Coy’s is another mud built house.

All originally thatched.

The Methodist Chapel was started in the barn of The Poplars (Mr Q Lewis’s).

The Poplar’s belonged to the Orson family (see their tombs near the South porch of St Mary’s Church).

The Orsons built the present Chapel, and allowed the villagers to walk through their farmyard, instead of going down the jetty to the Nag’s Head.

Talking of farms and farmsteads. Note:- the Nag’s Head had its own farmstead. The Barn and stables now owned by Mr Paul ….Stiesolm?

A new housing estate was built on the Nags Head Paddock (Burton Close).

The Walnut Paddock was a farmstead and field part of Elmhurst (the owners around 1900 were Mr and Mrs Sam Furmidge who also kept a little shop selling sweets and potted meat and pork pies, all home made.

The tall Stone House in Lower School Lane, opposite Elmhurst, is the original Glebe farm. (Now Dairy Cottage).

Around 1880, Aunt Lois, (Miss Rawlinson) can remember playing there with the the farmer’s children. (The Frecks)

They formed the Glebe farm down Langar Road, now farmed by Mr Norman Kemp.

The Freck’s family have since died out. See their headstones near the East Window area coming from Lover’s Walk.

After the coming of the railways, many villagers travelled away to earn fresh skills and earn a better living. Though many still worked on the land, or went over the hill to mine ironstone, some down to Barnstone making cement.

100 years ago, there were two brick yards. One on Nichols poultry farm and one down Colston Lane. (Opposite Mr Teddy Lamins, the small Runcorn Paddock.)

Of course, quite a few were expert cheese makers under the management of Mrs Herbert Watson. Harby won many of the champion Stilton Prizes at the Dairy Show in London.

A smaller dairy “The Harby Farmers” was established where Tithly Dairy is now.

(This was also a Brewery owned by the Kemp’s years ago).

When the “Harby Farmer’s Dairy” started, the farmhouse production ceased. And the farmers delivered their fresh milk twice daily to be made into cheeses.

In 1939 when the Second World War started, part of Harby Parish was taken for building the Langar Aerodrome on. The old Harby Fox Covert disappeared.

The Lancaster bombers flew many long and important missions from langar.

The aerodrome changed the line of Harby, and many villagers found employment on the aerodrome, and at the Aero Repair Factory of A.N. Roe & Co. which came from Manchester.

Now the ‘drome is mostly used for pleasure, micro light planes and parachutists.

Now Harby is a residential village, favoured by professional people, who work in Nottingham, Leicester, Grantham and Melton.

Harby still has a very good school. At present with just over 50 pupils, ages 4 ½ to ten years and three teachers.

A hundred years ago there were 160 children taught by six teachers.

The village still has a resident Rector living in a Modern Rectory and who is also Rector in charge of Hose and Long Clawson.

The Old Rectory is now in private hands. Too big to be maintained by the income of a present day Rector.

The village also maintains an Institute for Community Activities. Built 1925.

We still enjoy a regular bus service to Melton and Nottingham.

Most families run their own car, however the largest employment source in the Village is the Unigate Factory down Colston Bassett Lane.

This is the largest Stilton Cheese factory in Europe. Built in 1972.

Employing over 100 people.

By way of the interest, the 2 fields near the Unigate Dairy belonging to Sherbrooke House were the original strip farming fields (amongst others).

That is the ridge & furrow which made for good drainage.

These fields were known as the STACKING STEADS, and were probably used for making hay for winter feed. Stacking the hay on top of the ridge to dry well( in small ….cobs? or haycocks).

Or, if grain( wheat or beans) the stooks, (hand sickled and tied by a twist of straw) would then be on a good site to dry well on top of the Rig or Ridge.

The water supply of Harby was modernised in 1935 -36 when piped water was laid on, previously there were wells and pumps.

Most of the paddocks nearest to the village had pumps to supply the animals with fresh water.

Two public pumps were available. One in front of the “The Old Marquis of Granby Inn”. Now occupied by Mr K Wills.

The other near Diamond Cottage, Nether Street,

Harby has also been one of the main Telephone Exchanges since phones were established in 1900 (about).

The original exchange was at Miss Lanes ….grandmothers?

No history can be recorded without the personal statements of those here in the village.

Here villagers recall memories of Harby. You can view the originals by clicking on the Pdf's

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