Recollections of Quorn – John Rudkin
John was born in Quorn at 44 Barrow Road (next to Harry Hardy's butchers shop) in 1949. He left Quorn for Mountsorrel in 1967, before finally leaving Leicestershire altogether. The first photograph shows John as a baby with his mother and father in the back of 44 Barrow Road. In the background is the back part of Harry Hardy's butchers - and the second picture shows John in 2011.
The museum team are extremely grateful for recollections and memories such as these. They are very interesting for people today and provide a wonderful glimpse of Quorn in previous years - but perhaps most importantly, they preserve a record of life in Quorn for future generations.
1) The Hurst, Loughborough Road (now the Royal Chequers)
I recall the Hurst as being a transport cafe, selling Esso petrol through the 50s and early 60s. My memories of it are sitting on the wall along with several other school friends bus-spotting, the road then being the main A6 trunk road from London to Carlisle. During the summer season there were many coaches coming through twice daily forming the Associated Motorways network; amongst them were Barton, Premier (Cambridge), Yelloway (Rochdale), Black and White (Cheltenham) and Hall Brothers (South Shields- later to be taken over by Barton). Another memory of the Hurst was the fridge breaking down and all the ice cream being given away! We all suddenly developed fictitious brothers and sisters!
2) Wright's Commanders Marching Band
Both my parents played in the band before I was born, my mother, Ivy, played a Kazoo and my Dad, Jack, playing a snare/side drum. The band was unusual in that they had lights in their uniforms for giving night time displays. One occasion (mentioned in my Dad's diary) they played at Northampton Town's football ground. The bandmaster was Arthur Wheldon, whose daughter Ann Brown (nee Wheldon) has contributed to your website. I was in the same class as Ann at St Bartholomew’s Infant and Junior schools and haven't seen many of the class since 1960 when we all went our separate ways to the various 'big schools' (parent's terminology). I also have my Dad's old drumsticks but cannot remember what happened to his drum. Wright's Commanders Band broke up during WW2 and never reformed.
3) Working at Wrights
My dad used to work the three shift system at Wrights and once when he was on nights my mother noticed that he had left his ‘bait’ [packed-up food] behind. I was duly dispatched with said sandwiches to the factory and to ask if they would make sure that my dad got them. The chap on the gate asked if I would like to take them to him? Still being in short trousers (late 1950s) and finding the noise and ‘lint’ flying about a bit daunting, I was eventually shown my dad at work. He then showed me briefly what he did, which involved trying to keep 20 Northrop looms working. As they were forever breaking down, a good night was perhaps getting up to 12 or 13 working at once. He showed me into the next room which contained four new Italian looms, which were so much quieter and seemed to give off a lot less lint. He said that each of the new looms could do the work of 20 of his and they rarely broke down. They were looked after by just one worker (replacing four in total on the equivalent old looms) and this was an early explanation to my young mind of how technology was causing the loss of jobs. In my mind’s eye I can still see the scene in the factory.
4) My Dad
My dad also gets a brief mention in one of the British Legion articles from 1957 as running the darts, this was something he did for many years when I always enjoyed helping him.
5) Phone Numbers
The phone numbers in Quorn went to three numbers at first (eg Howlett's became 242) then on to four numbers (same example 2242) until the country changed over to all number phone numbers. Quorn became swallowed up with Loughborough (0509) and 41 was put on to the front of the existing numbers. Not sure when this was, possibly early seventies.
6) Road Accidents
A couple of accidents on the A6 spring to mind, one where an articulated lorry jack-knifed and went through the wall opposite Rawlins into the Mills' air-raid shelters. The lorry was passing the buses waiting outside of Rawlins, I believe that the driver was not seriously hurt.
The other accident was fatal - a car going towards Leicester cut the bend at the top of Sarson Street and went straight in to a Midland Red double-decker heading towards Loughborough. This occurred late evening (I was in bed fast asleep and new nothing about it till the morning when the bus was parked in Sarson Street having mechanics trying to sort it out). Brian Shuttlewood (also from Quorn) actually saw it happen.
7) White Gates Allotments (Loughborough Road, opposite Sarson Street)
My Dad had one of these allotments for most of the 50s and early 60s. As you entered into the allotment area it was the left hand end one at the bottom. It came with 5 apple trees (cookers) and 2 damson trees. Another allotment holder, Graham Steele had 3 allotments, growing flowers for exhibition- a very keen gardener. I used to get a ride across sitting on the front of my Dad's wheelbarrow. One year we had a fantastic crop of damsons and went over Saturday morning with buckets/bowls and basins only to find that some kind soul had cleaned the lot out overnight. We couldn't even fill a small basin. I really felt for my Dad who worked so hard on his allotment after putting in a full week's work at Wright's factory.
I thought that the allotments were owned by a co-operative and not one person, but from what is said now, I must be wrong on this one.
8) History of Quorn Football Club
I read an article on Jackie (John) Field about his football career and used to have a copy of a book that he wrote (early 60s?) on Quorn Football Club. It has certainly disappeared with one of my house moves. I think it was produced to celebrate their 100th anniversary but that may be my memory deceiving me.
Note: The book was written in 1960 when Quorn Football Club was 36 years old.
9) Helping with the milk
Another memory is of helping Mr [Tommy] Allen deliver milk. Although he had three sons (Peter, Tom and Chris) they eventually got fed up helping their dad and I was more than happy to help out. Once when delivering to a house in Barrow Road, I opened the gate and as I was walking to the front door I heard the crash of a milk bottle breaking. To my horror the gate had a really strong spring on it and it had swung back that quickly, it caught the bottle that I was carrying and broke it. Thankfully I wasn’t docked a day’s wage!
10) Jimmy Thomas
Showman’s Guild member of many years, Jimmy Thomas used to keep his fairground sideshows in a lockup behind Mr Payne’s [4 Station Road] (never allowed to refer to him as Jack- unless I wanted a clip round the ear!). Mr Thomas also had a showman’s travelling caravan stored there. In around 1958/9 when I was still at St Barts’ he asked me if I would like to look after his Hoopla Stall for the duration of Quorn Fair. I jumped at the chance and earned some 8/- for three days work, no such thing as child slavery in those days! I really enjoyed it and the one thing I do remember is that no one won a prize all weekend! It was possible to land a hoop flat on the deck but no one did. I wouldn’t mind betting that Mr Thomas still has these prizes stored away somewhere. He was also one of the first to have a personalised number plate on his car- JT 1234 and along with a Mr Tatham (CJT 100) and Harry Noon, boss of Howlett’s Coaches (HTN 8) were the ones I remember in the village.