The following was published for Crich Schools in the 1980s. It was a collection of memories of Crich life through the eyes of the older generation.
In today's terms some comments are politically incorrect, but we do not consider that they were designed to cause offence. Nor do we wish to cause offence, so apart from one word, it has been decided to reproduce it as recorded. It is a document of its time and gives a fascinating insight into growing up in Crich a hundred years ago.
Christmas during this period was very different from today – there was of course neither wireless nor television – and all entertainment was home-made.
When I was four in 1900 – and one of a family of five children – we all excitedly, on Christmas Eve, used to hang up our stockings. When Santa had been we all discovered that we had been left the same things – an apple, an orange and a small net packet of chocolate coins, covered in gold foil. This was not because we were a particularly poor family; it was about par for the course at this time.
Later when I moved to Crich and married, we would often be entertained by Guisers. Guisers were local entertainers, who would dress up in disguise or fancy dress and would often black up like the XXXXXX Minstrels. They visited private houses, carrying musical instruments and would give an entertainment of music, singing old story telling. After a drink (usually alcoholic) and something to eat, they would continue to the next house and so through the village.
Christmas Day was always marked by the Crich United Silver Prize Band touring the village, playing Christmas Carols. My husband was a supporter of the band and would always have a crate of Starbright Ale for them and Mince Pies. On one such occasion, I happened to be out of the house when the Band called and my husband, not being able to find the mince pies gave them my Christmas Cake. My children were not amused!!
The village was full of Characters in those days – to name but a few, there was:
Pedley Pushcart – a little man, with no legs who used to get about on a small platform on four wheels, propelling himself by his hands on the ground. He lived in Wheatsheaf Cottage – was married to a dwarf – and was the local Chimney Sweep.
Dummy Martin – The Gravedigger, who could always be found in “The Bulls Head” .
Gilbert Poyser the most eccentric character of all – you never knew what he was going to do next! He was assistant blacksmith to Charlie Wilmot, another character, whose forge used to stand on what is now the semi-circular pavement immediately to the South of Crich Cross.
Nobby Stocks used to live behind “The Jovial Dutchman" and was the local Night Soil Collector. When he was putting away his horse and cart and big scoop, after a night's work he used to say, "Right, I'll go and make some Gobstoppers now". Nobby was the local, boiled sweets manufacturer as well.
Jinnie Harper was a local harridan who used to attend all the local football matches and was famous for her abusive remarks and advice to the players. One day, her husband came home very early from the quarry, because they were on strike. Hearing this news, Jinnie took a pan of boiling potatoes off the stove and said, “Right. No Work, No Tatters". She was known as No Work. No Tatters to her dying day.
Bill Dawes – the Landlord of "The Wheatsheaf Inn" used to open his Pub at six o'clock in the morning, to provide Refreshments for the local poachers returning from their night out. By half past six, the pub was full of dead Rabbits, Hares and Game Birds. The most notorious poacher was Bess Bollington, who was always in trouble with the Law (At that time we had a full-time Police Sergeant and a Police Constable resident in the village.)
Strangely enough, we had several facilities in the Village, that do not exist today; of those that I can remember, we had:
A Dentist – Mr. Travers with a surgery opposite the Church
Two Drapers Shops
A Boot and Shoe Maker
A Watch and Clock Repairer
A Cattle market at the Town End
and Crich Fair came twice a year
The Social Event of the Year was always the Cricket Club Dance on New Years Eve; in the Bottom School Miss Allin always had the School beautifully decorated. All, the ladies wore long dresses, with long, lace gloves and carried a Dance Card. The Gentlemen approached the ladies and requested a particular dance – and if the Lady consented, his name would be entered on the Card against that particular dance.
During the Dance interval, while the Band were taking refreshments, local vocalists would often sing a solo to the waiting dancers. Roger Haynes would give them "You are my Heart's Delight" or “You are only a beautiful picture in a beautiful golden frame". My husband, who had a reasonable, baritone voice would give his rendition of his favourite song “Thora”. Mrs Deacon of Chase Cliffe – the nearest person we had to the Lady of the Manor was heard to observe, “its very good of Mr Dawes to sing but I rather wish he hadn't".
Before midnight the dancers who were members of the Church – and that was the majority, would go up to the Church to take Midnight Holy Communion.
Travel and Communication at that time were almost non-existent, in comparison with today and, as you will see from the foregoing; things were nothing like as material but we still got very excited about Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it.
(Mrs) Elsie Jones
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