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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Pound for pound: Although Woodborough Woods Foundation School is a Church of England establishment, and Sir Frank is a Methodist – and one who is doing more than his share towards Anglican-Methodist unity. The new school is still in debt to the tune of £2000 and a busy calendar of events has been arranged until the end of the year to raise half that total – which should in fact, clear the debt, because Sir Frank has promised to meet pound for pound up to a total of £1000, all money raised for the appeal fund before the end of this year.

What pleases Sir Frank particularly is that the opening of the new school on Lingwood Lane marks a success in his campaign for school playing fields to be available to all “without padlocks on the gates at the end of term”.

Old Head’s new note: Yesterday was a day of wonderful memories for one of Nottinghamshire’s “elder statesman” Alderman Sir Frank Small, former chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council and Woodborough’s senior citizen.

Frank Small 1903-1973

Frank Augustus Small was born in 1903 at Hawthorne Cottage, Nottingham Road, Woodborough in the parish of Lambley. His parents were, father Austin (1876-1953), and mother Sarah (née Wright) circa 1871-1957 who was born in 1901 and died in 1987 aged 86, all living at Shelt Hill, he had two sisters, Winifred born 1905 and Clarice born 1906 and both at Hawthorne Cottage, Lambley.    

then sold for conversion from 2 cottages, southern side occupied by Smalls, northern side by Walter Wright. Earlier lived in Woods Yard but probably moved to Shelt Hill after 1915. (This date seems incorrect)

He attended the village school, Woods Foundation School on Lingwood Lane, until he was twelve then left to work on the land.

When did he start the market garden business and when did he sell the land opposite the Homestead to Costains?

Is there more information on his period between leaving school, marrying and acquiring The Homestead and his market garden business.

An article by Frank Small (a lecture to Nottingham Textile Society in 1959) states that he bought the Homestead in 1946.

Electoral register for 1931 shows Frank and Sarah in Richardson’s Square ...  A later register in 1970 shows 153 Main Street (known as The Homestead), and was once owned by William Lee, a builder. Apparently the Smalls lived in the rear part of the building and Herbert Bish and family lived in the front.  

He excelled as the county’s “Chancellor of the Exchequer” and will go down as the architect of Nottinghamshire’s victory in the battle with the city who wanted to take surrounding urban councils into a Greater Nottingham scheme.

He will also go down in local authority history as the main-spring in the CLASP building system which the county pioneered.

A keen cricketer: Alderman Small is a director of the National Building Agency, and his interests embrace a whole of scope of community life. He is a director of Nottingham Playhouse; a member of the East Midlands Airport joint committee, and a vice-president of Notts County Football Club and Notts County Cricket Club. He was himself a keen cricketer, playing for Epperstone until an accident involving a runaway horse ended his career prematurely.

The only son of a framework knitter, he has been a Methodist local preacher for 38 years, although this side of his activities is not widely known. He received frequent calls to preach.

He has represented the county on the County Council’s association since 1955 and is a voting member of the executive committee.

In 1965 he became chairman of the Parliamentary and General Purposes Committee. He was chairman of the Local Government Finance Committee from 1963-65 and vice-chairman of the Agricultural Committee from 1959-60.

Alderman Small served as a member of the Local Government Reorganisation Sub-Committee, concerned with new conditions that had evolved since 1957. He has represented his county authority as a member of joint negotiating committees relating to salaries and conditions of service of various employees.

He attended the official opening of the new Woodborough Woods Foundation School and there met his old headmaster, 83 year old Mr Archer Saunders, who taught at Woodborough for more than 34 years.

The new school has made Alderman Small feel intensely proud. For it replaces the one at which he received his only formal education – a total of six years’ instruction, which ended when he left at the age of 12.

He went on to educate himself and become chairman of the County Finance Committee before becoming chairman of the Council.

Surprise: As he said at yesterday’s opening ceremony, the school was built on playing fields owned by the parish council, but the County Council, who are responsible for providing the site, compensated the parish for the loss of ground and provided new playing fields which will be available for all at all times. The County Council will maintain them.

Mr Saunders had a small surprise for Sir Frank. He showed him an entry he made in his diary when he retired 20 years ago. He had recorded Sir Frank’s birth date, the date he started school and the date he left.

“Why”, asked Sir Frank, “Did you do that?”, “Because”, replied his old headmaster, “I thought you would go to the top”.

A knighthood for Alderman Frank Small

A Knighthood for Alderman Frank Small, vice-chairman and former chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced 10th June 1967.

Ald. Small (63) a farmer, with a smallholding in Woodborough, received a CBE five years earlier. A year later he became Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, having been appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1962.

Alderman Sir Frank Small, vice-chairman and former chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, was knighted at a special investiture at Buckingham Palace.

Sir Frank was highly respected in local government circles and has been praised for his outstanding work by Conservatives as well as his own Labour colleagues.

Alderman Sir Frank, who farmed at Woodborough, received the CBE in 1962 and a year later he became a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, having been appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1952.

He was first elected to the County Council for the Byron Division in 1946 and 11 years later became an Alderman. He was vice-chairman in February 1963, and chairman the following May.

Born in Woodborough, he went to the village school until he was twelve, when he left to work on the land.

Dedicated: Alderman Sir Frank has won himself the highest possible reputation for his dedication to people through local government.

Name of lady on right.

Sir Frank with Lady Sarah Small (left) & outside the gates to Buckingham Palace following his knighthood on

27th November 1967  

Sir Frank ordered to rest. 1967: Acting on medical advice, Alderman Sir Frank Small, vice chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, has cancelled all remaining engagements for this year.

He will be staying at home in Woodborough and has been advised by his doctor not to receive visitors or telephone calls until the New Year.

“He is not seriously ill, but a recent internal infection has added to the physical strain of fulfilling his numerous commitments”.

“Those closest to Sir Frank know of his tremendous courage and also of his reluctance to withdraw even temporarily from public life, in which his advice and experience are in constant demand. He is making good progress but only by his taking a complete rest can we be sure that he enters 1968 with his customary vigour”.

Sir Frank Small not standing again: Labour stalwart of Nottinghamshire County Council, Alderman Sir Frank Small, who will not stand for re-election to the new Council. Sir Frank, one of the best known and most respected personalities in the East Midlands, was elected in 1946 and became an alderman 11 years later. He received the CBE in 1962 and was knighted in 1967.

Sir Frank died at his home on 18th April 1973: I have written and spoken to a number of tributes to him and it is interesting that people afterwards add further to my picture with the remembrance of many things he did which were characteristic of him, showing the personal side of the man, his regard for people, his thoughtfulness and courtesy.

The official records list a remarkable achievement, a wide range of interests and a list of high awards, but it is perhaps this other, more personal side which means more to us in the village. The packed chapel was itself a significant tribute by us all. The Minster memorial service drew civic officials from a wide area and again it was clear that men thought well of this man. As church men we are proud that he was well known as one; for his concern for the ‘life of society’ has been a central theme of Methodist doctrine. As a village we are proud that Woodborough is identified with Sir Frank. The village was part of his life, it gave him his early and only schooling, his first work on the machines and then his great chance of working on the land of his own. His business ability gave him freedom to follow his administrative flair and the rest of the story is known. It would be intriguing to work out how the village as a whole benefits in some way from the honour that comes to one of its sons. He will be missed at various levels of the County’s life and certainly his regular presence at Chapel focused for us our responsibility to nourish and pray for such people who carry responsibility themselves. We share the loss of Lady Small and also her pride in a man widely recognised as a leader of vision and principle.

His funeral service was held at Woodborough Methodist Chapel on 24th April 1973 before his cremation and on the 17th May 1973 a Memorial Service at Southwell Minster was also held for Alderman Sir Frank Small, C.B.E., D.L., JP., Vice-chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Lady Small née Foster also belonged to the area. She was born in 1901 at Field Lane, Woodborough and was one of ten children of an agricultural worker. Sarah died in 1973 only four months after her husband. She had survived the shock of his death and the upheaval of moving to a new home and planning new arrangements but her health, never very good, failed her just as we hoped that she might have come through to a time of rest and recuperation.

Sources: various editions of the Nottingham Evening Post.

Homestead Farm in 1961 on the left seen from land on south side of Main Street. Right market garden produce being loaded for market

Headmaster George Sinfield with Sir Frank Small (right)