Midland Station, Bulwell c.1905.
Midland Station, Bulwell c.1905.

The Railways. Whether the Railways brought the  industries, or the industries brought the Railways, Bulwell is remarkably well off for accommodation. The Midland came in 1848, and afterwards built their Bennerley line; the Great Northern came in 1878, and afterwards formed their Leen Valley line; the Great Central came in 1895. Its viaduct of twenty-six arches, occupying a length of 360 yards, is a a feature in the parish, and they run a train for their workmen every hour to Newstead. The electric Trams were opened on July 28rd, 1901, and run every five minutes, and now a tramway by Cinder Hill is being opened, so that for purposes of transit Bulwell is well off. The Highbury Vale bridge across the railway, Leen, and Bogs, was a great improvement, costing the Corporation nearly £7,000.

Gas. In 1842 the Nottingham Gas, Light and Coke Company obtained parliamentary powers to supply gas to Lenton, Radford, Basford and Sneinton, and in 1858 an Act of Parliament was passed authorizing the extension of the mains and supply from Basford to Bulwell, and thereby a great convenience was provided for domestic and trade use, and for lamps in the street.

The earliest supplies of water, Mr. Davis, the Water Engineer, informs me were given in the later part of 1877.

Bulwell is now prosperous. A gradual and continuous improvement has during the past fifty years taken place in the condition of the working classes. Peace has largely prevailed, commerce has enormously extended. The railways, and on the sea the merchant fleet, carry the coal and manufactured articles to various parts of the country, and the world, and bring back the corn, and all articles of food. A great empire has been built up, with which our trade and prosperity are inseparably connected, and we must with God's blessing, and our energetic co-operation, endeavour to keep what has been so dearly obtained, and is so vital to our welfare.

Health. Let us now look at the development of the sanitary, or health idea in Bulwell. The cottage houses were small, low, and the windows still smaller, especially in the bedrooms, which were usually in the roof, and leaving considerable space between the tops of the windows and the ceiling, bad air accumulated, and so injured health. Here are blessings on the head of the man who first brought a sash window into Bulwell, for it required space and height to let sunshine and fresh air in. Pantries were often placed under the stairs, without an outside ventilation, so that food could not be well kept. A slab stone, for washing outside, was superseded by a sink-stone, and the soft stone one, was exchanged for a glazed one, with a drain. There were few drains, for there were no sewers, except such as emptied themselves into the Leen. The floors were usually of stone or plaster, cold and damp. The roofs were covered by thatch, and afterwards by pantiles. The water of the Leen became polluted, and the wells gradually were contaminated as population increased. It was a great advantage when Mr. Charles laid a pipe from the spring on the west of the Forest to his bleachyard, and on the way, against the bridge, was placed a pipe called "The Fountain," to which women resorted for pure water. The outhouse had usually a pit two feet deep, where impure matter seethed, and bred fevers, and caused diarrhoea. Small pox frequently prevailed, and many persons had their faces pitted with the disease, for they were unvaccinated. Bleeding and purging were the remedies usually resorted to for ailments. Consumption was much more prevalent than now. Isolation was not thought of, and people went in and out of houses where there were infectious and contagious diseases. A bath, with hot and cold water, was unknown, and some unwise landlords put them in cottages to find that the bath was used for dirty clothes, or for growing watercresses. Beer was thought to strengthen, and port wine to heal in sickness, and it was a discovery to find out the mistake.

Sewerage. Agreat improvement has taken place. In 1872 an Act of Parliament was passed to constitute the Nottingham and Leen District Sewerage Board, with power to construct an intercepting sewer from Bulwell, through the Leen and Trent valleys, to Stoke. Previously the idea had prevailed for making the Leen a great culvert and common sewer, which would have been a huge mistake. The Board borrowed £30,000 to carry out the scheme. When the annexation to Nottingham was carried into effect in 1877, the streets of Bulwell were sewered, and the drains connected with the houses, so that impurities could be Carried away. Some of the best water in England was carried to almost every part of the village, and into most of the houses. A superior class of workmen's dwellings was erected, with air, light, space, pantry, sink, closet, and other conveniences. The virtues of water are however not sufficiently appreciated, either in the washing of houses, or of persons. Many persons forget that health is largely promoted by keeping open the pores of the skin, and therefore baths are not appreciated, either in the houses, or at the public institution. In Germany, and Belgium, a miner has a wash at the colliery, and, with a double suit of clothes there, is dressed as a gentleman when returning from his work. Here we have the "gentleman," but with special dressing deferred.

The general health of Bulwell cannot, however, in the light of Dr. Boobbyer's annual reports, be considered satistory, for there is so much preventible disease arising from the neglect of sanitary precautions by some of the people, causing considerable excess of enteric fever, scarlet fever, and diptheria.

Meanwhile there are two District Nurses, acting under a committee of ladies, of which Miss Rose is the secretary, and the cost is met by subscription. The nurses are said to be doing excellent work, not only in ministering to the sick, but also in teaching the laws of health, with personal and domestic cleanliness.

Population. The population of Bulwell was in 1801, 1585; 1851, 3,786; 1901, 14,767. At the latter date Basford had 27,189; together 41,956. In 1911 the census figures were combined, 53,208. Bulwell was estimated at 20,000, there being 4,655 houses. While the birth rate in other parts of the city is declining, the Bulwell people are in this respect doing their duty to the state, for the wealth of a state is in the multitude of its inhabitants, healthy, industrious, and moral. "The birth rate," says Dr. Boobbyer in his report for 1912, "ranged from 26.7 per 1,000 in the Bulwell district to 21.7 in the S.W." On the other hand the following is very unfortunate, "The proportion of illegitimate, to the total births, was, as usual, far greater in the Bulwell district than elsewhere in the city." (p. 35). So in the report for 1911—"The illegitimate births in the Bulwell sub-district were equal to 9 per cent, of all the births, and were 30 per cent, more numerous relatively to the latter, than in the city as a whole " (p. 35). It should be explained that the Bulwell Registration District includes the whole parish of Basford. The question is a larger one than at first appears, because "a higher infantile mortality always attends on illegitimacy, and this is also accompanied by a proportionately increased amount of sickness, and defective health among survivors, for which the community have to pay." In the city the proportion of infants who were born and died during the year was 23.2 per cent, for the illegitimate, and 11.0 per cent, for the legitimate, being more than double. The following paragraph in the 1811 report is agreeable: "The population of the Bulwell sub-district ** at the present time has a lower mortality, and is growing by natural increment more vigorously than that of any other division of the city." (P. 37).

Prodigious. Although the birth rate in Bulwell is higher than in other parts of the city, (4 per 1000 above the average of the city), it cannot attain to that of the good old times when large families were not uncommon. But of all the marriages in Bulwell there is a case named in the Nottingham Date Book, in 1769, which must take the palm. On June 2nd in that year Charles Copeland, merchant, was married to Fanny Melville, whose father was a hosier in Bulwell. In the bridal procession we are told there were sixteen of the brides own sisters and brothers, "dressed in white, with white favours," and further "the newly married pair had each of them seventeen of their own brothers and sisters then living." Even this however was not enough, for it is stated on the next page (page 81) as a remarkable fact, that on Aug. 11th, Mrs. Melville, the mother of the young lady referred to, was safely delivered of her thirtieth (?) child, having only recently entered upon her 45th year.

Baths. The Northern Baths are a fine institution, in which the children in Bulwell Schools, according to a time table, in summer months, on Wednesdays and Fridays, use the splendid swimming bath free of charge, and aie taught swimming by the staff In winter they have privilege tickets, 1d. Four hundred boys, and 250 girls, per week, in 1912 used the bath. Seventy girls, and 150 boys, learned swimming, and passed the test. All the children should be urged to frequently use this valuable health provision, and to learn to swim. Five thousand men used the private baths in 1912, but only 718 women did so. We must have clean houses as well as clean persons, for a dirty house is a disgrace, and should be so labelled. From clean homes the children must be sent clean to school, not merely "spic and span," whatever that may mean, when notice has been given of a coming inspection, for the occasional may easily become the habitual.

The Small-Pox. The Small-Pox Hospital in Papplewick lane is fortunately without any occupants. Not half the children born are vaccinated. When, therefore, the foul  disease  returns  in  an active mood, an ill-vaccinated community may find itself in a fool's paradise.

Housing. What is called the Housing problem is being  vigorously dealt with. Many old cottagehouses, which have not the essentials of a dwelling, or are otherwise unfit for occupation, have been condemned. One item must suffice. Walking up the street called "Bulwell Buildings" resembles a walk in a decayed Eastern city—a street of the dead. Fifty years ago it was a street of awful neglect, unpaved, with an open sewer down the middle, a rabbit warren literally and figuratively, for who had more right than they to the rabbits of Bestwood? and the windings and hiding-places were marvellous. It was afterwards sewered, paved, and lighted, but now the occupants have departed, and the houses are closed. Around, however, a multitude of new and sanitary dwellings will be found.

Post Office.  Penny postage came in force in 1840. In 1844 the Rev. Alfred Padley and all the principal men of Bulwell signed a memorial, recommending the appointment of John Gent, "servant man and shop keeper"—really vanman for Mr. Allcock — as a fit and proper person to be appointed as receiver of letters. Jane Chambers succeeded in 1880, and the present postmaster, F. G. Chambers, in 1902. The money order, and savings bank business, was established on 1st May, 1872. One delivery of letters used to suffice, now there are eight postmen and several branch offices, and several messengers are employed. In the early days, before penny postage, the letters were placed in the post office window, so that people could see when a letter had been received for them, for which the postage must be paid before the letter was handed over.

The River Leen, Bulwell.
The River Leen, Bulwell.

Waste & Bogs. A strip of land between the Main Street and the Leen had for many years been neglected by the lord of the manor, and was regarded as "waste." On this land a number of "squatters " built small cottages of very inferior quality. Small fines or fees had for generations been uncollected, but half-a-century ago the cottagers were induced to pay 6d., or 1/-, as an acknowledgement. This went on for a time, after which the lord of the manor claimed the land, and sold the property. Let us hope some compensation was paid. The land above and below the old bridge was a lost piece of waste called "The Bogs." On this the children had from time immemorial played and made dirt-pies. About 1867-8 Mr. Cooper, the lord of the manor, raised, levelled, enclosed, and planted with trees this land, and let it to Mr. Geo. Wilkinson at £1 a year. In 1872-3 John Seymour, a boy, was charged with trespass, and damaging the grass. Mr. Hugh Browne defended. Thomas Holmes gave evidence of ancient usage, and the magistrates dismissed the case. Great demonstrations followed. A thousand people went in procession from the British Schoolroom, headed by the Hucknall Temperance Band, to take possession, when speeches were made. Some months afterwards writs were issued against Messrs. Holmes, Sankey, and others Either a proper appearance and defence was not entered, or some informality occurred, and the Sheriff walked in for £34 costs. The Bogs were thus apparently lost to the public. Afterwards John de Morgan, a London agitator, appeared, and amid great excitement cut the rails. Fortunately the Corporation stepped in, and agreed to buy the Bogs, and so the playground remains.

Annexation. When the Town Council of Nottingham proposed to extend the borough boundaries, and to include Bulwell, largely because of the Leen Sewerage Scheme, there were divided forces for and against the proposal. The owners of small houses were especially strong against it, for the absence of the essentials of dwellings, and the presence of crowding of big families into houses with one or two bedrooms, were too shocking to be recorded here. There had been a Local Board keeping down the rates—a Board of Health it was called—but that was on paper. They, however, erected the Public Offices on land costing 7/6 per yard, and they held one meeting in the rooms, when they were superseded.

In 1879 the Corporation committee reported that they had purchased from Samuel Wilkinson and Thomas Holmes two copyhold cottages, with toftsteads and right of common on Bulwell Forest appurtenant thereto, with a view to prevent the lord of the manor enclosing the Forest, and the cottages, having fulfilled their purpose, might now be sold. This was a wise step to promote the public good, and the golfers especially ought to view those two cottages with beneficent eyes.

Forest. By the 42 and 43 Vict. cap. 204, 1879, the Corporation was empowered to purchase and take the lands of the Forest for a public park, therein called Bulwell Park, and to lay out not less than fifty acres for recreation, to be open to the public, and the entrance gates not to be closed before sunset. The park must not be closed more than twenty-eight days in any year, nor must it be used without the consent of the Corporation for meetings, open air preaching, or amusements, and bye-laws must regulate games, or pastimes. A part "near to the factory of Messieurs. Felkin," containing eighty-eight acres, might be used for a cemetery. Arbitrators were appointed to determine the amount to be paid to the lord of the manor, and to the owners of commonable rights. The road now called St. Alban's Road, the Corporation were required to make. The Act recited that the coal under the Forest had been, on 1st January, 1852, leased by the Rev. A. Padley, and Selina, his wife, to Thomas North.

Both the Park and the Cemetery ideas were afterwards abandoned, and a large slice of the Forest was sold to the Railway Companies.

"How well I remember the scenes of my childhood,
Where with my companions I've rambled so free,
And slid down the sand-rock that borders on Bestwood,
And filled the pure air with our innocent glee.
Where o'er the green Forest I've rambled for hours,
And rolled down the hills, and enjoyed it so well,
From many a gorse bush have plucked off the flowers,
And drank of the cold stream that flows from Bul-Well."

—Samuel Cox.

When the Corporation took the work in hand, the first thing to be done was to clear out of the way what Dr. Thoroton called "a kind of Corporation." The way to accomplish this was to buy up the Toftsteads, or Cottages, with forestal pasture rights. I his cost £6,270. The next thing was to buy out whatever rights the Lord of the Manor had, and this cost £500, and then it was decided to make a good new road, which cost £6,446. The Bogs adjoining to the Leen, and the bridge over, then received attention, 3,470 yards of land being bought at a cost of £682, and including all the foregoing items, £16,284 was spent, greatly to the advantage of the district and the city. There were thirty-two toftsteads, seventeen of which belonged to the lord of the manor, and £90 was paid to the owner of each toftstead.