West bridgford people 1: Barbara 68 growing up in sneinton

At the heart of her community but given heart by her community Barbara Neale in West Bridgford

People like Barbara Neale know Nottingham like the back of their hand. Now living in West Bridgford and loving it (well….marriage and two grown sons, daughter in law, four grand daughters, a great great granddaughter, a great great grandson in Sunderland, as well as caring for a very long lived dad (93) who sadly died last year of complications related to dementia, isn’t it time for her?).

I think so!

Born in the City hospital, Barbara grew up in Sneinton, living on Castle Street and Baden Powell Road.

Above: Eight minute walk between Castle Street and Baden Powell Road where Barbara grew up. Sneinton’s neighbourhood today: library, pharmacy, school, gym, mosque, takeaway, Green’s Mill, Park, newsagent, cake shop, schools

Her dad was a gas fitter: below maybe one of the cookers he’d fit:

Barbara’s mum worked at the famous Yates pub in the Old Market Square:

Barbara, her two grown up sons now in their mid thirties and forties with established lives and careers (one still in Sneinton the other in Cotgrave) remembers the city hospital fondly.

Her gynaecologist was Mr John Bruce who worked at King’s Mill Mansfield and the City hospital qualifying as a surgeon in 1967 (FRCS) and did his post graduate training in London in 1975. Both her sons, Phillip and Matthew, were born at the city: Phillip, her first born four days early and Matthew her second baby was six weeks premature. Barbara remembers Mr Bruce as someone who was strict (she needed to stay in for a whole week after Phillip was born which drove her mad with boredom) though for her second baby she had obviously had either more parent power, had become more adept or just the rules had changed as she left hospital after only three days. Mr John Bruce died in 2015.

At the moment there’s a review of maternity services being undertaken by Donna Ockenden to help improve the safety and quality of maternity services in Nottingham

Above: the site of Nottingham City Hospital had been a poor law workhouse and infirmary the City Hospital that we know today opened as the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary in 1903
The North entrance to the City Hospital: you can watch a brilliant history of Nottingham City hospital here
Peel Street hospital seen from the Arboretum which closed in 1982 transferring maternity services to the Queens Medical Centre (now student flats)

Barbara attended Greenwood infants, Greenwood Junior on Sneinton Boulevard and still remembers her booster jab on the first day and the sugar lump with Polio vaccination:

Barbara might also remember someone who’s posted on the BBC Bygones site about going to Greenwood Infant and Junior:

“My name is Joyce Betts (nee Kerry) I was born in Nottingham in 1948. My family lived at 451 Meadow Lane. My brother, sister and I went to the Greenwood Infant, and Greenwood Junior schools on Sneinton Boulvard. After sitting for my 11+ I attended Blenheim Secondary Girls school at Bulwell. I have many fond memories of walking to Trent Bridge to feed the swans, wandering around the Botanical Gardens, picnics at Burton Joyce, Wollaton Park and the Arboretum. We regularly visited the cattle market on Meadow Lane. My parents, sister, two brothers and I left England on the S.S. Stratheden in June 1962. We haven’t been back since. My husband and I live in Colac Victoria”. Joyce Betts (nee Kerry) Colac, Victoria Australia (Posted in 2014)

Barbara didn’t know Joyce.

Starting school there was little preparation (and no uniform). She didn’t like school cried and cried…. but then forgot about it.

She found she was great at english and maths always getting 20/20…She also remembers dancing with a partner and getting tripped up….(real life is nothing like it appears in the pictures below…):

She loved PE and the vaulting horse, netball. She left to go to Edale school (which became Sneinton Dale School for girls on Sneinton Boulevard) and passed her 11 plus. Work was easy: maths and english spelling every Friday afternoon: 20/20 but there was always the odd injustice.

She remembers being told off unfairly for calling a teacher a pig. Called into the head’s office with the girl who’d really done it the truth came out…I reckon Barbara was pretty good at standing up for her rights.

After 11 plus Barbara went to Greenwood Bilateral school at the top of Sneinton Boulevard. Bilateral schools were precursors of comprehensive schools in areas where at the time they wouldn’t spend money on grammars and secondaries. In these schools would be a range of children who’d passed the eleven plus as well as children who hadn’t but teachers often used streaming rather than mixed ability classes.

Starting secondary education at 11 and leaving at 15 the careers advice was simple.

The careers teacher came into school on Friday, asked you where you wanted to work. Barbara said she wanted to work in the factory at Boots. (The money was rumoured to be excellent if you were nimble and quick). However at fifteen Barbara was tiny: four foot six and to work on the conveyor belts you needed to be at least four foot ten.

However she was able to leave school on Friday with a job to start as a packer at Boots Station Street after the weekend. Working at Boots from age 15-26 until she left to have her first baby Barbara grew up: she had a secure job, collating the photographic boards for photo albums and then putting elastic bands on the parcels which were picked up for distribution every day. Barbara loved the job: the restaurant was excellent with 15-20% discounts, free fruit: apples and pears from the Boots estate and she became the factory volunteer on poppy day selling poppies on every floor.

Men managed the machines, at first women weren’t allowed to go near them. When Boots Station Street closed down

they moved to Boots Island where she worked in photographic printing.

Island Street photographic printing was a very busy place and they worked seven days a week: 8am -7pm Mon-Friday and then Sat-Sun if they wanted it 8am-12 midday and 8am-1pm.

Boots had an onsite pharmacy and one day Barbara pulled sellotape for packing too hard and it cut her finger really badly. She had to have butterfly stitches and was off work for six weeks.

After the children Barbara worked as a school dinner lady and nursery nurse at William Booth school on a Tuesday while Matthew was at nursery.

She can remember being asked to be the milk and whistle monitor: serving the milk and straws to the children (and the children loved it if there was a spare one and she could sit with them and drink through a straw) and blowing the whistle to end play. She continued her NVQ training at West Bridgford College and placement at Lady Bay nursery: at the time it was hard to be a forty year old woman in a class full of 16 and 17 year olds at West Bridgford college so she left to be with a more mature group of students at Basford Hall college which she loved as she was able to work with children with a range of special needs including babies and young children with Downs Syndrome.

Barbara has a great sense of building community spirit, supporting people and a great feeling to the community in West Bridgford, who supported her while her dad was so ill last year. With Alzheimer’s he used to take his frustrations out on Barbara, he also had COPD and asthma. She used to wash him, him, dress him, occupy him and it was a very demanding anxious time, staying with him, sleeping on the settee.

He was 93 years old, had had a good life, would have been 94 last week (it’s 24th August 2022). So help with and for older people is high on Barbara’s list of to dos for Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and the Labour team, not to mention the cost of living…..

At the moment though, with bingo three days a week, coffee at Lutterell Court, trips to The Wolds for lunch (and a chill at home on Saturday, church on Sunday at Walcote Drive community centre as well as family and grandchildren) Barbara Neale is having a really good and well deserved time.