Woodborough in 1956
A long village that snakes along either side of the road, a quiet village where a car hooter, a cart’s wheels, the slow grind of a tractor shatters the peace only momentarily, a friendly enough village where neighbours chat and cuttings are exchanged and in the winter they remember the old people’s summer and dance the can-can at the village concert so that their annual outing can still go on and now, publicly a tidy village, the tidiest in Nottinghamshire.
This is Woodborough, a few miles north-east of the city, easy to reach for those who, while they work in Nottingham, like to live in the country. Woodborough has some of those. Most of the villagers are market gardeners and those who work for them, watching the rise and fall of the slow seasons, following their craft even in their leisure for their gardens are ablaze just now with the colours of summer and the names of the old fashioned flowers that fill them roll off the tongue like medieval poetry….snapdragons, sweet Williams and Canterbury bells, marigolds, marguerites, dahlias, pinks, cornflowers, stocks, phlox and tumbling roses.
A few colliers are to be found, but not as many as for instance in the northern neighbours of Calverton and Gedling. Woodborough’s is a living tradition of the top soil and although those who work below and those who work down in the city have had their effect and added something the roots of the village are still in the soil.
And this is Woodborough, soon to erect…the August meeting of the parish council will decide just where…the wood and wrought iron sign for the County’s tidiest village, given by the Duke of Portland and the Viscountess Galway. The judging committee of the Nottinghamshire branch of the Council for Preservation of Rural England decided on Woodborough. Why? Well Woodborough doesn’t quite seem to know.
For the way the judging committee saw Woodborough is apparently the way Woodborough looks all the time.
Mr Joseph Cooke, retired market gardener and 35 years member of the Parish Council, standing in the beautiful garden of his home on Calverton Road, remembered no really special effort.
The Women’s Institute was approached for its help in keeping the village looking its best, Mr G. E. Sinfield, headmaster of the Wood’s Foundation School, was asked if he could suggest to his children that they do their share in collecting paper and other litter they might see. But both the WI and the children would have a fairly easy time of it, for the waste paper baskets outside the village shops and the gutters were empty.
And Mrs E. M. Harrison, mother of two children, who four times a day puts on her cap and a white mackintosh and takes her “children crossing” sign from the Post Office to see the children safely across the road from the school, could remember no special drive at all. “Woodborough’s just naturally tidy” she said as she waited for the next batch of youngsters to come racing down past St Swithun’s Church. “It’s a nice place to live…my husband’s worked for the same farmer here for nearly thirty years. We used to have one of the old cottages and I was really happy there…but with a family we needed the room and so we went to live on the housing estate.
“It’s a friendly place too. You should see some of things we have…especially our concerts…the oldest member of our can-can team is fifty eight.
“Then there are Brownies and Guides, Scouts and Cubs, the Women’s Institute and the Mother’s Union…their banner was dedicated last Sunday as part of the Church’s 600th anniversary. Now the village band is starting up again…it sort of broke down during the war.”
Mrs Harrison is one part, a noticeable part, when she is on duty, of the ordered life that is Woodborough’s.
And this, more than a spring clean or a conscious effort, is probably what caught the judge’s eyes when they set off to look for Nottinghamshire’s tidiest village. A dictionary definition of “tidy” is “in becoming order, neat, trim.”
That is Woodborough.