Brick Kiln Lane.

Thunderbox Toilets

By Peter Bowler

Hospital Cottage

My grandparents and parents had some friends on Brick Kiln Lane they were quite old when we used to visit them more my grandparents age than that of my parents they must have passed away many years ago. I'm not 100% sure but I don't think they'd ever had any children maybe they did, I don't know, they were a Mr and Mrs Stocks and lived at Hospital Cottage the last building on the left hand side before Abbot Road, I believe at one time it was either a Typhoid or Cholera hospital, very isolated when it was built no doubt to keep the inmates well away from the population of Mansfield.

The Garden

When we used to visit Mr and Mrs Stocks in the 1950s I remember the cottage had a beautiful garden with a sunken lawn in the middle and on the lawn was the biggest tortoise I had ever seen, they must have had it years, they also kept chickens at the top of the garden. There were no water mains at that time at that end of the lane so the only water supply in the house was a hand pump at the side of a stone sink in the kitchen, the water being pumped from a well in the garden, I don't know if they had electricity but I can only remember being there in daylight so they might have had gas lights. 

Thunderbox Toilet

The down side of them not being connected to mains water is that they didn't have a flush toilet not unusual to them because they'd never had one but I think thats the only one I ever saw, its certainly the only one I ever used. The lavatory was a brick building, I cant recall how far down the garden it was but I'm sure it wasn't joined to the house, inside there was a wall about the height of a modern toilet bowl with wood on top and a hole about nine inches diameter and that was it, these were refered to as Thunderbox toilets, At the back was a trap door at ground level to allow the contents to be shoveled out, not a very nice job.

The Tank

Right at the end of this era the council used a motor vehicle but I can just recall a horse drawn tank being used, this tank was about a quarter open to allow the contents of the Thunderbox to be shoveled in. It was a cylindricle tank with a cart wheel at each end, the shafts were fixed to the side so it was wider than it was long and to empty it they just took the horse out of the shafts and tipped it up,it pivotted on the axle. When the tank finally became redundant it was left on a piece of land opposite Hospital Cottage where the Cycling Proficiency course was built, when the machines moved in to level the ground I rather think it was buried where it was left.  

This page was added on 07/01/2013.
Comments about this page

I used to live on Brick Kiln Lane Mid 50's to mid 60's. We lived at the last house on the right before the Council Estate, right at the top of the hill, and as previously said, as a youngster before and after the war, used to sledge in winter, and go for walks in summer along B.K.L. I can well remember where the Fever Hospital, Smallpox and Typhoid had been, quite a distance from the road. The cottage remained and although it had been closed for many years, we gave the area a wide birth, before the housing was built. The description Peter gave to the outside toilet's name, is the name given to the mobile toilets that are used for the events such as Golf and Music Festivals today I have seen the Shire Horse and cart at work, this was usually done during the hours of darkness.  It is quite possible that the contents of the horse drawn tank were diluted with rainwater or another substance and turned over into the soil.

By alan curtis
On 09/01/2013

Re collection of sewage, this was done as Alan states and was known as the 12oclock hosses!! On Peafield Lane in Mansfield Woodhouse 3 fields were used to spread the sewage. There was a pump house where the fields were sprayed with water and the weather would break down the effluent. A few years ago I used to field walk the fields and came out with loads of old clay pipes, the old men used to smoke, I presume they dropped the clay pipe in the toilet can. Years of ploughing meant you never found a complete pipe. In most villages the sewage fields were marked on the Maps. The Pump house disappeared in the 70s when the new estate was built. I hope I have'nt lowered the tone of the site but this is Social History, I have never lived in a house that didn't have an inside toilet connected to a sewer or bathroom inside.

By Tom Shead
On 11/01/2013

This is probably why that type of manure is refered to as night soil Alan.

By Peter Bowler.
On 11/01/2013

I cannot recall much about the "thunderbox" toilets but I can remember vividly the area around the council estates. In around 1951-52 we moved into 116 Brick Kiln Lane, between Les Cornwall and family named Pettits. At that time only a few houses where completely built and many more under construction. Opposite us was the old stone farm house, I do not know the name of the owners. On that property stood a very large oak tree and several other types of trees. The fields went quite a way back towards Skegby sands and was filled with potatoes and turnips. In the farm house yard were apple and pear trees and some holly bushes. There was a small brick cistern, not sure if it was a well or not. Flowing in front was a small brook which had water cress growing in it. The brook is where a young lad got stuck in and Mum and another neighbour had to pull him out. I am not sure of where the buildings mentioned by Alan where, I just know that there were fields between the bottom of the Cockle" side all the way to the round about at Lady Brooke Lane. Does any one recall who the policeman was in the last house, it had a blue light, in around 51 -56 ??? I am sure many other residents of the "new estate" would remember the developing of Brick Kiln Lane and the others sections going up to Skegby Lane. Trust everyone brought  in the New Year on a happy and healthy note. Regards Mike Frost

By Mike Frost
On 04/02/2013

Mike, I think the farm you refered to on Brickkiln Lane was Hardstaffs.

By Peter Bowler.
On 06/02/2013

Hi I love reading all the comments about Hospital Cottage on Brick Kiln Lane. I have been desperately trying to find any photos of the cottage & surrounding area could anyone please help Dianne

By Dianne Stevenson
On 12/06/2013

Finding this site has created a lot of discussion with my parents who are in their late eighties because we lived at Hill Top Farm on Brick Kiln Lane. I was brought home there from the nursing home in 1948 and we stayed until 1951; Hill Top Farm was next door to the Hospital Cottage where Mr and Mrs Stocks lived.Hospital Cottage was built in 1888 as the Small Pox Hospital for 16 patients at a cost of approx. £600. Mr Stocks was a gardener at the Victoria hospital.

Hill Top  farm was owned by Mr Hardstaff but my Grandparents John and Florence Padley had been tenants from early 1930s. With my Uncle John, my mother Florence and my father William Pitchford when she married, the family ran a milk delivery service from Hill Top with horse and cart, urns and jugs. There was no piped water at the farm, so water had to be drawn from the well at the top of the field and heated in the range (my dad says he needed a week’s notice if mum wanted a bath!). There was  no electricity while the family lived there and gas was only introduced in 1950 for lighting. There was a Thunderbox toilet at the farm but up to 1951 when we left there was no collection service and the waste was buried in the orchard.

In the 1930s there was only one house on the west side of Brick Kiln Lane between Hill Top and Sutton Road; it was a small farm. My mum attended Moor Lane School from age 5 and then High Oakham from 11 and walked to and from Hill Top daily. Mum used to walk back for lunch until a Mrs Van who was a milk customer and lived at the bottom end of the lane in new housing suggested she had lunch at her house. When the Sir John  Cockle was built in 1936 Landlord Lundy’s daughter Hazel became a friend and they walked to High Oakham together.

Mum and dad remember that there was a sand quarry behind the farm somewhere between Brick Kiln Lane and Skegby Lane and a pond known as Polly’s Pond.  

I will post separately some photos of the family at the farm and the lane in the snows of 1947.

By Dorothy Mellors
On 18/10/2014

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.