The former road roller belongig to Heanor Urban District Council. Now in preservation.
‘Music, Music, Music’:
Monday morning was the day for returning the weeks gramophone records to Holland’s record shop on Market Street, and as the most junior in the operating box, it was my job to do this task.
The records were used to play in the interval between the films, and also when the trade and sales advertisements were being shown, so the auditorium retained an atmosphere. The filmlets usually advertised local shops and businesses, and lasted from 15 seconds to a minute, and the content varied in each cinema. They were in fact unique to each town and in our case made by Pearl, Dean and Younger’, of Albemarle Street, in London.
With ten 78rpm records, I would set off to the shop, bearing in mind my instructions, that only four were to be vocals, the rest to be organ,
orchestral or light classics. The reason for fewer vocals was because it was poor showmanship to fade out a singer part way through his or
Popular orchestras of the day were Victor Silvester and His Ballroom Orchestra, Cyril Stapleton, Sidney Torch, Ken Mackintosh, and Mantovani. The vocal records were of stars such as Doris Day, Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza, Anne Shelton, and Al Martino.
There was a little competition between the two cinemas, this was mainly because ‘The Cosy’ patrons liked Ethel Smith on the organ while ‘The Empire’ patrons preferred Ken Griffin at the Hammond organ.
At nearby Langley Mill, its only cinema ‘The Ritz’, used to run a record request spot on Sunday evening. Patrons would leave a slip of paper
with the name of a record on, and the following Sunday they could hear it played. I recall an evening when someone requested Johnnie
Ray’s version of ‘Such a Night’, which was faded out half way through, because of its sexy innuendoes which management didn’t agree with.
Cinema operating boxes were fitted with dual turntables in metal cases, with a fader control in-between the decks, so the operator could fade from one disc into the other. I guess in a way they were thought of as the early disc jockey’s, although at that time the word had not been thought of.
Records were usually on free loan to the cinema, in return for free screen advertising. Ever wondered what happened to the ten returned records? Well they were put back on the
shelves to be purchased by some unsuspecting customer!
‘The Good Old Days’:
On leaving the National Coal Board in 1958, I set my target to get myself a full time driving job, and what better place than on the local council, where most workers stayed on until retirement. This was before local councils were grouped together, in the days when Amber Valley Borough Council was then Heanor Urban District Council. I could at that time drive vehicles up to 3 tons unladen weight, and they had a vacancy for a tractor driver, with a loadable front bucket. They had two tractors; the other was driven by Cyril Scarborough, and based at the Milnhay Sewage Works at Langley Mill. Due to some stupid union rule, he was paid 2d (four pence decimal), more than I was, just because he pulled a trailer. This fact came to light sixteen years later, when it was discovered they had also paid me at the same rate, due to a clerical error. However it was their fault, and I didn’t have to repay the overpayment back! The council yard at the time was opposite the ‘Cosy Cinema’, which was very handy for me, as I was working there part time. Here was the old Heanor Fire Station, built in 1925, which became surplus when Derbyshire Fire Service converted a building on Wilmot Street, and moved there. This was demolished some years later, and Wilmot Street Centre was built, where they remained until a new station was built on Ilkeston Road. The yard, at the back of an the old public toilets block, was also close to the rear of the Langley Mill and Aldercar Co-Operative Society building.
Vehicles were also stored here as well as the many different sections of the council such as the Health Department; (foreman ‘Jock’ Morren), Housing Dept; (foreman Stan Holmes), Highways dept; (foreman George Jennings), and Water Dept; (foreman Charlie Bennett, and driver Billy Brookes). George Jennings used to produce and market his own product called 'Jenolite', which was a rust remover, and chrome cleaner, and could be brought at some local shops). Vehicles filled up with fuel here, and the pump man was Billy Hartshorne, whose family owned a blacksmith shop on Ray Street, here worked brother Cyril, while the other brother Joe, worked on the Gas Board.
Their sister Priscilla Hart was then a local councillor. The council took over the old fire station, and converted it into a workshop for vehicle repairs, with mechanics Ken Reid and Harold Brougham.
In the yard there also stood part of another old building which had formally been a public house, (‘The Crown’?) which was kept to house the HUDC steam road roller, which was driven by Tommy Calladine, who followed on from his father in the same job. The road roller remained unused for several years, and was a 1930 Wallis and Stevens ‘Advance’ steam roller, which weighed 8 tons. The works number was 8058, and carried the registration number OU 4737. It was originally purchased new by Heanor Urban District Council in 1930, and worked on the roads until 1960 when it became difficult to find drivers who could operate it. The Council sold it in 1979, as a pile of rusty bits to Mike Farmer, who took 13 years to restore it to working condition.
Some years later, all the departments of the council depot were moved when the old Midland General/Notts and Derby Traction garages became available at the rear of ‘The Jolly Colliers’ public house at the top of Derby Road.
I was instrumental in moving most of the stock from the old yard to the new premises, these later became a store yard and a rented out workshop. The new premises consisted of mainly single-decker bus garages, in which the departments were re-housed. The main building, an office, cum store, cum repair workshop, was also a paper bailing store, which had been moved from old wartime property at the bottom of Fletcher Street.
For two weeks, we cleared out this building, which contained old Midland General Omnibus equipment, such as driver and conductor uniforms, rolls of special material made like fishing net, and covered with plastic/polythene sheeting. This was from the war years, and was used to cover the windows of buses, so making the glass windows shatter proof. There was several large rolls of copper rod, which we later realised was overhead trolley bus wire, and this we took to Pearson’s Forge at Langley Mill to be melted down for scrap; it was about as thick as your little finger.
I stayed in this job for some 18 years, working in cinemas in the evenings and at weekends. At one time I was contributing to three Tax Offices, at Derby, Sutton in Ashfield, and Leeds; after all, as the song says ‘Who Want’s to be a Millionaire?’ I recall the last time I saw the old steam roller in use was when the railway bridge was removed from the Heanor to Derby Road. Here stood Heanor Station, at the bottom of what was called Smalley Hill. Tommy Calladine, its official driver, was the union man for the Transport and General Workers Union, the only recognised union accepted by HUDC.
The clearing of the old Derby Road bus garages, took us about two weeks, and we took lads of uniforms, caps, leather shoulder bags,and a host of other things to the Lockton Avenue tip, where they were instantly buried, so that none could be taken away.
During my service with Heanor Urban District Council, I also worked alongside men, who worked for Derbyshire County Council; this was for the removal of the railway bridge in Heanor, and the consolidation of a second bridge on the Heanor to Codnor road, and thirdly on the railway bridge that carried a line from Langley Mill to Ripley, at Crosshill.
The 60s and 70s saw a decline in my home town, the coal mines in the district had either closed down, or were about to; and industries, centred in factories were making people redundant in their hundreds. When this happens, people don’t have money to spend, so they don’t go for expensive meals, buy cars, or spend money on entertainment. It began to show in the cinema and theatre business, already severely threatened by the video boom, which was fast becoming established as the modern form of entertainment.
It was because of this reason that I decided that any experience I could gain, in any kind of job, would be helpful if ever I should become un-employed myself. I did part time work in all sorts of things, from painting and decorating, delivery driving, making hydraulic connectors for tractors, and delivering cinema leaflets on forthcoming programmes, which enabled me to get free tickets to two other local cinemas. I suddenly found that I could turn my hand to almost anything.
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