Hermitage Lane

The Hermitage Playing Field

By Alan Curtis

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Hermitage Lane' page

The above sketch is of the Hermitage Playing field from the Sheepbridge Lane end of Cinderella's Walk, looking toward Hermitage lane. It became the relaxation park to many of the local residents in the 1930's and 1940's.

Sandwiches and a Bottle of Water

To us it had everything to free our minds and worries of Wartime Mansfield. Being 80 miles from the sea, very few of us had ever seen the seaside, and this was a substitute for us. Thick sandwiches and a bottle of water was all we required for our days enjoyment. The river Maun and a fishing net at that time in our lives was all that was required to keep us happy for the day. Although most folk were poor, there was an abundance of lovely places to visit, and best of all they were free.


The Big House

Crossing the wooden bridge of Cinderella's Walk over Sheepbridge Lane you pass through a pedestrian gate, one of the gates you have to step into, then close it to step out. At the side of the gate was a beautiful old house surrounded by a lovely old stone wall. This was at one end of a small lane, Reed Mill was at the other. My father when I was young, was big friends of the White's family who used to reside in the big house, and would often take us there to visit. They were lovely people.

Cottages with a View

Straight across from the end of Cinderella's Walk was a narrow pathway that lead to the playing field style. The pathway was about 200 yards in length. Firstly on the left there were half a dozen cottages that stood back with their gardens at the front. These cottages had the most glorious views over two Dams, the River Maun, and the fields and hills of Bleakhills. They also had a vista view of the Railway Line that weaved it's way through Bleakhills. I knew and played with some of the children who lived in the stone built cottages. Between the cottages and the stone wall that bordered the Hermitage was a large field that was ploughed and set by the Farmer. It was a lovely sight seeing the tractor ploughing the field, and then the the crops growing to ripeness. As with all the soil around Mansfield, it was a fertile growing area. 


Bad Mans Road

On the right of the sketch was what we as children knew as Bad Man's Road, why it was called that I have no idea, I guess there must have been a reason somewhere along the line. The road took you to Hermitage Lane and Eden's Mill. At the rear of Eden's Mill there was another dam that had the river Maun running along the side of it. The dam must have been kept topped up when required by the river Maun. Along that part of the river I remember there being a few Hazel Trees where we used to collect Hazel nuts. And where the River Maun ran under Hermitage Lane Bridge, there was a stone walkway allowing you to walk under the road.

Low Bridges

To the right of the road known as Bad Man's Road, ran the L.M.S. line to Nottingham and Stations between. On this line there are two low bridges, one over Sheepbridge, and one over Hermitage Lane.On several occasions in our modern times I have seen high vehicles damaged going under the bridges. As a youngster I once saw a double decker bus take it's top clean off going under the bridge on Hermitage Lane. Luckily the bus was empty..

Home Made Fishing Nets

The River Maun ran all along the bottom valley of the Hermitage playing field, ideal for a cooling off period after running around on a hot day. Paddling and Fishing were lovely past-times. We made our own fishing nets by using the tops of a pair of old lyle stockings by cutting them off near the tops, tying the bottom into a knot, a piece of wire threaded through the top, stick the wire ends into a piece of cane, and Bobs your uncle, you have a fishing net, and saved yourself sixpence. I'm sure at times there were as many folk on the Hermitage as there were on Titchfield Park.

Looking at the sketch, the large hill in the background is where all the excavations of the Reservoir were tipped to form the hill.

Nostalgia

I and others, look back to when we were young, and cannot recognise the Mansfield we knew. The fields of Mansfield have all but disappeared along with the beauty. How thankful I am to be in my eightieth year, and very grateful to my parents for choosing Mansfield to set up home.

This page was added on 22/02/2013.
Comments about this page

I can't for the life of me recall Hermatage playing fields Alan, could it have been built on by the 1950s? If it was I wouldn't remember, being born in 1947.

By Peter Bowler.
On 08/03/2013

Hello Peter, my memories relate to the 30's and 40's. I know there was a lot of activities in that area during the 50's and 60's but I did not visit there in that period. I have called it the Hermitage Playing Field, but to us it was always known as the "Hermo". Talking to an old neighbour Jimmy Cocket the other day, and funny he referred to it as " The Hermo ". And as previously said, what a fabulous place it was,what a pity you were not able to enjoy it as we did.

By alan curtis
On 10/03/2013

Hello again Peter, just thought of a better way to tell you the location of the Hermitage. From Sutton Road along Hermitage Lane, under the railway bridge, (there is now only one bridge). On the left just under the bridge was (Bad Man's Road ). This road ran along side of the railway lines, and the top side of the 'Hermo' - up to the side road of Sheepbridge Lane.  From the bridge on Hermitage Lane, passing Eden's Mill on the right, you come to a stone bridge where the River Maun flows under the road. The river runs towards Reed Mill from there. Travelling along the bottom of the Hermitage Playing Field, so between the bridge, the river, and the side road to Sheepbridge Lane was the Hermitage, and to answer your question, yes it has been built on!

By alan curtis
On 10/03/2013

That's a great sketch Alan. It's answered a question that I have wondered over for a long time, that being what was here years ago. I walk the Cinderella path that you speak of very often and cross the bridge over Sheepbridge Lane cutting to access the short path that runs parallel with "Bad Mans Road" . The path then takes a 90 degree left turn down towards the Maun and has a stone wall as in your sketch. So am I right in thinking then Alan, that the area you call Hermitage playing field is now occupied by the concrete works off Hermitage Lane ? I always wondered what was at the side of the stone wall. I'm presuming it's the original stone wall that's still there now , it looks like it is and just like in your sketch. As I have mentioned in some of your previous threads, I have fond memories of this area as I played here myself as a boy, but that was only 40 years ago and you can go back much further than that when it looked far different. I just wish I could see the images that you can see in your head. Is that the old LNER railway bridge to left the Hermitage Mill in your drawing ?  I was trying to work out where the line crossed Hemitage Lane as its long gone now and I'm not old enough to have seen it and have never been able to find any old photographs of it. So did the LNER line cross over Hermitage Ln somewhere around where the road bends at the Hermitage Mill ?

By Simon Leivers
On 13/03/2013

Simon, you are absolutely right about the railway lines and bridge, also right about the bridge being on the bend. What a bad bend and dangerous bridge it was, there were many accidents with cars and vehicles meeting each other under the bridge. You are right about the lines being the L.N.E.R. Line, they went under Sheepbridge Lane, over Nottingham Road, and over Littleworth to the Station. The bridge to the right was/is another dangerous one,being very Low...  I was very fortunate and lucky to have been born at the time I was, Mansfield and area at that time was a very beautiful, although an industrious place to live.  Many people in the town knew each other and always passed the time of day when passing. Friendships came easy and greed wasn't a word known to anyone. Factories were not together on an estate, they were built close to the houses where folk lived and were able to walk to their place of work. If one looks back at recent history, you find places of work, like Whiteleys,The Co-op Warehouse, the Mills around Mansfield, the Coal Mines, and many other industries, all had houses built around them so they were within easy reach for the workers. Thank you for your kind comments.

By ALAN CURTIS
On 16/03/2013

Hello again Alan, thanks for explaining about the Hermitage playing field I thought it might be where the concrete works are I can remember it being built, it was called Trent Gravels when it first opened. I've noticed when cycling on Hermitage Lane the track you call Bad Mans Road but I can't recall it from when we used to play round there in the 1950s and early 60s and now it looks like a private access because its gated.

By Peter Bowler.
On 16/03/2013

Hello Peter and Simon, no one in my day walked down the side of the wall where the path does a 90 degree turn down to the river. I guess it was done to make way for the Gravel/Cement works. I don't believe there was a path, once over the style the whole field was a large playing field area, which included that length of the River Maun. You could walk diagonally over the " Hermo " towards the bridge on the left where there was another style at the side of the river, climbing over the style you were on Hermitage Lane where the river went under the stone bridge after passing Eden's Mill. Alan

By Alan Curtis
On 18/03/2013

Thanks again Alan for all this info. Just going back to the railways , I again assume that the L.N.E.R line crossed Nottingham Road where the current Pizza Hut is sited (previously Windsors garage) from Tichfield Park side towards the Currys superstore site and on towards Sheepbridge Lane where it went under the road to the right of Bleak Hills Lane and over the Little Bleak Hills ponds towards Hermitage before joining the L.M.S line at Sutton Reservoir . But did the L.N.E.R line connect with the Rufford/Southwell branch somewhere near the site of the McDonalds Nottm Road, or did the L.N.E.R line cross over or under the Rufford branch? I do remember the Rufford branch bridge crossing Nottingham Road at the current B&Q /KFC sites. Oh how I wish I could go back to see it all for myself. Another of your fabulous sketches would be good showing the intersection of the lines.

By Simon Leivers
On 20/03/2013

Hello Simon you got it a bit wrong about the L.N.E.R. joining the L.M.S. at Kings Mill Reservoir it went under the L.M.S. at the reservoir then on to Sutton Central station, Kirkby Central station and on to Nottingham Victoria station via the old Great Central main line which it joined at Kirkby South Junction. When the government forced all the railway companies to form four big companies in 1924 the Great Central came under the control of the L.N.E.R.

By Peter Bowler.
On 26/03/2013

Thank you for correcting my error there Peter. I didn't realize the two L.N.E.R & L.M.S lines were separated all the way to Nottingham and always believed the two connected at the Sutton reservoir. I learn something new every day. I have always had some interest in the local railways and as a young lad sat for hours "train spotting" with mates at the junction of the Rufford branch with the L.M.S line at the Mansfield South junction signal box at the side of Sheepbridge Lane. I have in my possession a brass plate, which is a signal box lever plate approx 5" x 4" . It has engraved on it ..."Points Up Line & Mansfield East Jc Line". I found it as a young boy many years ago beside the railway about where Mansfield North signal box stood and assume it was from that box to switch the points over from the main L.M.S line over the now demolished viaduct over quarry lane to the Rufford East branch. I have been looking for old surviving pictures of the Mansfield North and East Junction boxes but as yet not found anything. There are lots of the South Junction box

By Simon Leivers
On 29/03/2013

Hello again Simon the two lines stayed seperate all the way to London the LNER to Marylebone and the LMS to St. Pancras. Theres a good book by Paul Anderson and Jack Cupit called Mansfields Railways published by Irwell Press with lots of photos of around the 1950s and 60s theres certainly one of North and East Junction boxes, I've worn my copy out I'm always looking at it, so many places I remember so well that aren't there any more. I also spent a lot of time with my mates spotting at South Junction in the late 50s and early 60s. As for your brass plate I bet it would be worth quite a few pounds at a railwayana auction specially with it having a place name on it.

By Peter Bowler
On 01/04/2013

Hello. I was wondering if anyone could tell me about the mill owners house at the Hermitage next to Hermitage Mill pond. I have some information but there is an older part to this house which has a curved wall and in its day we think it would of been a small cottage before it became the large stone house which did belong to the mill owners. If any one has any photos or information please could you leave a message on this site. It is said the house as a whole is approximately 300yrs old making it older than the mill. I am unable to find any evidence and trying to date this house. 

Suzanne

By Suzanne
On 03/04/2016

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