Recollections of Mrs Dorothy Hudson who lived in one of the huts at the former PoW camp on Colwick Woods as told to Jackie Wood 8.2.11.
Her daughter, Diane Coker of Carlton, had recently attended the Star Gazing event at the former bowling pavilion on Colwick Woods and overheard someone reminiscing about the hutments and mentioned she’d been born at the camp and her mum might be interested in adding her memories.
Mrs Hudson told me she moved to the former PoW camp on Colwick Woods with her parents Samuel and Lillian Bainbridge and brothers Dennis and Dougie in 1950 when she was approximately 16 yrs old. They occupied hut No 19. They had been displaced from their house in the Meadows as it belonged to the railways. Her mother had worked on the railways during the war but afterwards, when everyone went back to their normal occupations, it was required for a railway worker. From here they went to live on Sycamore Street in St Anns but her mother didn’t like it there so they moved onto the woods.
When Dorothy married at St Johns on Oakdale Road in 1952 her husband Alan moved in with them – they had put their name down for a council house but there was a 7 year waiting list. He was Doris Braithwaite’s son of No 15 and was in the army. Their daughter was born in August 1953, on the same day the whole family were allocated a house at Clifton. Dorothy was approx 19 years old when they moved. They were sorry to leave as they had good times there. (All the huts were demolished by the end of 1955.)
Joan and Ernie Shaw who lived at No 12 also went to Clifton. Fred and Janet Hall of No 18 went to Bilborough and then emigrated to Australia although they later came back. Ed and Eileen Chudleigh of No 6a went to Bilborough. Dorothy and Norman Winfield lived at No 14 – she was Dorothy’s cousin. They went to live at Clifton. Pat and Joe O’Brien lived at No 15 with their parents before Doris Braithwaite came.
She went out a few times with Ray Charlesworth who lived at No 17 with his mother Bertha and brothers Vic, John and sister Brenda. (John later died in Australia.) He used to play football and went climbing and on one particular Saturday when they were going to go out on a date Ray fell approx. 100ft and broke his back. He ended up in a wheelchair. On one date Dorothy took him to the Rio cinema on Oakdale Road but they wouldn’t let them in as there was no wheelchair access. Because of his injuries both he and his mother said he wouldn’t be any good to anyone now and discouraged Dorothy from going out with him. He later married the nurse who had looked after him, had children and eventually managed to walk again. On the rebound, Dorothy married Mrs Braithwaite’s son and went on to have 4 children.
They were happy times at the huts and it was like being in one big happy family – on a summer’s evening most of the families sat outside their huts drinking tea and talking although there were one or two families in the wooden huts who didn’t want to mix. They used to watch the children playing on the field.
She can remember walking down to the railway bridge with a friend which led to Vale Road at Colwick and walking through the allotment gardens and fields to the river where they used to swim (unbeknown to their parents).
Some of the children attended Jesse Boot school and some went to St Bernadettes on Sneinton Dale.
Some of the huts were tin, some wood. The main room was heated by a small pot bellied stove with a tin chimney on which they also did the cooking. Unfortunately the heat didn’t extend into the rest of the hut and the tin roof didn’t help. At bedtime they used to put hot bricks in the bed to warm it up.
They had a long way to go to the toilets and had to be careful in the showers as the walls didn’t go right to the top and sometimes the lads would climb up and shout who’s in there, we can hear you!
I asked her if she could remember anything of the woods themselves but she said only her brothers used to go in them.