News for Winter 2007


What a superb event it was! In honour of Thomas Hawksley, one of the greatest engineers of the Victorian period and designer of waterworks around the globe, we held our luncheon at Lakeside, the former Bestwood Pumping Station, one of Hawksley’s creations. Members were impressed by the sympathetic way this former municipal building has been converted into a restaurant and function venue. Most of the beautiful Victorian decorative features are still on display and, with the remnants of the waterworks equipment, it is very atmospheric. Luncheon was held in the attractive Tower Room, looking out onto the colourful gardens, which were bathed in the autumn sunlight. We enjoyed a delicious three-course meal which, along with the venue, surpassed expectations.

A little more on Thomas Hawksley: this year saw the bicentenary of his birth and, after the meal, Ken Brand and John Beckett told us of the life and achievements of this great son of Nottingham. He was born in Arnold on 12 July 1807 in Arnot Hill House, now Gedling Borough Council’s headquarters.  His father had been a successful manufacturer but, due to a series of misfortunes and international events, failed in his businesses, and died when Thomas was only eight. By then the family had moved into Nottingham. Young Thomas, despite the loss of his father and the family circumstances, overcame these early adversities to become a much sought after water and gas engineer and architect, eventually designing and building waterworks all over the country and abroad. He was a genius in his field to rival Telford and Brunel, so it is amazing that he is so little known, even in his own city.

We have members who rarely miss the annual luncheon, but we are aware that many of our members have never attended. Every year we try to find a different venue and, if possible, one that is associated with a special event and, after the meal, a short talk is given on the subject relevant to the location. Recent venues have included Belvoir Castle, Thoresby Hall, West Retford Hotel, the Saracen’s Head in Southwell, Holme Pierrepont Hall and, an old favourite, the Great Hall at Southwell Minster. It will be hard to top this year’s, but we will try – why not come next year if you have never experienced a Society Luncheon? 1 November 2008 – put it in your diary now! Barbara Cast, Honorary Secretary (email

Members of the Society and their guests who attended the Annual Lunch will have heard about Thomas Hawksley. Currently Ken Brand is working with a team of people to prepare a booklet on Hawksley and his work, which it is intended to publish next summer, and which we hope will be available (perhaps at a discount) to Thoroton members. There is little doubt that Hawksley's work was of considerable international importance, but it is perhaps sad to think that by the end of his life he had come reluctantly to realize that providing running water and effective sewage disposal was not the complete answer to the high death rates in poor areas of towns. It was this belief which spurred him to undertake the work he did in Nottingham, and then to report on it to the Royal Commission in the 1840s; but in the longer term it was not the only Victorian reform which was critical for improving urban (and especially infant) mortality rates. John Beckett


Claiming the tax back from the Inland Revenue on membership subscriptions under Gift Aid legislation provides the Society with valuable extra funds. But a recent Budget change means that the amount we can reclaim is being reduced. It is also important that the Society's records of Gift Aid Declarations by members are fully accurate and up-to-date.

We therefore intend to ask members, when they next pay their subscription, to renew their Gift Aid Declaration. A simple form will be sent out with the coming subscription renewal request, and we would be most grateful if you would complete this and return it with your subscription to the Membership Secretary, John Hamilton, when the time comes.

We are sorry to put members who have already made a Declaration to this extra trouble, but the form is easy to complete, and the money we can claim back from the Inland Revenue is very worthwhile. Thank you for your help. The Declaration form should only be completed by those who pay income tax. John Hamilton


The National Archives at Kew (TNA) is a must at some point in their research for every local and family historian. Sue Clayton, on behalf of the Flintham Society, has organized six coach visits to TNA during 2008 on the following dates:

The coach will leave Flintham Village Hall at 7am, picking up at The Salutation, Maid Marion Way, Nottingham at 7.45am. Following a comfort stop at Northampton Services, estimated time of arrival at TNA is 11am. The coach will return at 6pm, and after a comfort stop en route, estimated time of arrival at The Salutation is 9pm, and at Flintham Village Hall 9.30pm.

The cost per visit will be £17.50. Any profit will go to the Flintham Society, an educational charity which owns and runs the Flintham Museum and organizes community activities.

To book for any of these dates please contact Sue Clayton direct on 01636 525641, or email her at

Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway

Have you taken a look at the Heritage Gateway recently? New entries are appearing all the time. Recent additions include Goose Fair, garden history in Nottinghamshire, and the market town of Bingham. Coming soon are entries on Nottingham's architects and their work, and on the county's folklore. We have also been in talks with Gary Mills of the University of Nottingham's School of Education, about how best to present the material to be of use to teachers in our county schools. Gary is undertaking some assessment work for us, with a small group of teachers, and we hope this will lead to further developments on the Gateway. You can view the Heritage Gateway on Thoroton’s website at:

‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’

Professor John Beckett planted the acorn when he suggested we might like to research the parish church of St Laurence for the Southwell & Nottingham DAC church history project. That grew into researching the history of Ossington, Caunton and Cromwell churches as well.  Ossington is now on the website, Norwell is with the webmaster, and Caunton has reached the final stages.

The Southwell & Nottingham DAC church history project generated an interest in the history of Norwell which resulted in the formation of Norwell Parish Heritage Group. From that came a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Norwell Heritage Trail leaflet has been produced and launched. The Children’s Trail working party is ongoing. There are three heritage booklets in preparation, and consideration is being given to an education pack. We have already begun a database of Norwell census returns.

The oak tree is putting out more branches: There are plans for editing the Southwell White Book, which is a major source for the history of Norwell and the county! A dendrochronology project for dating the timber frame buildings in Norwell is starting with the support of English Heritage. Ideas are being generated to look at the supply of building materials in conjunction with the Trent Vale Landscape Project.  Be careful when you plant an acorn; oak trees are bigger than you realize! Michael and Elizabeth Jones, Norwell Parish Heritage Group                 

New 'corporate' design for Thoroton!

A couple of years ago Council asked Trevor Clayton to take a look at how we present ourselves to the world. Trevor made a number of suggestions, and these led to the redesign of the cover of Transactions for volume 109. However, as members will know, Trevor died suddenly at the end of 2005, leaving the rest of the design work incomplete. We have now managed to rescue many of Trevor's early designs from his computer, and Thoroton’s Council has commissioned Michelle Ventura, a graphic designer, to carry the redesign forward. As a result, we hope in 2008 to have a new membership leaflet, and new designs for headed notepaper, posters, the newsletter, and possibly other parts of our 'suite'. Look out for our new appearance early in the New Year – but don’t worry, the Thoroton horn will not be disappearing from our logo!