Hancock Family

Billy Walters, Nellie Hancock, Harold Hancock.

Harold Hancock, Nellie Hancock, Freda Walters.

Nellie Hancock, Harold Hancock, Freda Walters.

Nellie Hancock, Harold Hancock.

 Harold and Nellie (her proper name was Eleanor, but I don’t think anyone called her that since she was at school) Hancock. Nellie was born and raised in South Wingfield, and moved to Tupton shortly after the War.

Harold was born and bred in Tupton, in the old terraced houses on Green Lane – pretty much where the village hall is now. His father, also Harold, was another Tupton man. His mother, Blanche also had ties to the village; as her family owned Forge House on Derby Road.

Harold was the oldest of four children: he had two younger brothers – Doug and Henry and a sister, Blanche (they loved recycling names in those days). They were raised as Methodists and had quite a strict upbringing.

Harold and Nellie met and married during WW2 – where both were active. He was a conscript and she a nurse. They married and lived in Chesterfield until the end of the War and then moved back to Tupton, initially living at the “oxo” house at the corner of Ward Street and Queen Victoria Road. It was in 1949 that significant house-building took place and a row of council houses were built between the New Inn and Four Lane Ends Farm. Harold and Nellie, and their four year old son, were one of the very first four families to move in, in October 1949, while the rest of the street was still being built; alongside Bill (pictured alongside my grandparents in the first of the pictures) and Eileen Walters. It was a friendship that spanned the rest of their lives.

Following the war, Harold started a career at TI Chesterfield (the tube works) in Birdholme. It was another big employer in the area and a career he held until he retired in 1984. A consummate gardener, as many were during the periods of rationing after the war. His garden was like an allotment and there few vegetables, if any, that he didn’t grow; and, again, typical of the time, he kept hens at the bottom of the garden for fresh eggs. He also liked a drink, and was a regular patron to the New Inn (at the time, before the later building works, they were neighbours with only a field separating them; and he and Nellie became good friends with Alf and Edna Holland – who were the landlord and landlady of the New Inn from the early 1950s well into the 1980s.

He was always an outdoors person. I think working in a factory made him feel confined; and when he wasn’t in his garden he would be off out walking (with the occasional “watering hole” stop-off at the White Hart or the Brit – to chat with Ernie Calladine!!!).

Sadly, Harold’s retirement didn’t last long. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1986 and died in 1988; so for the last year or so of his life, he was in and out of hospital and so didn’t get around the village as much he had previously. He was also a terrible hoarder – absolutely anything he found or that broke he would store in the old chicken coup (the hens having long since died); because you never knew when it would come in handy – and, on the Bonfire Night following his death, the family had one of the biggest bonfires you have ever seen outside an organised display as Nellie burned so much old wood!

Nellie left nursing after the war, with a young son it wasn’t the most practical career, and she became a sewing-machinist at Robinson’s. Again a job she held until she retired. She was one of the more well known sewing machinists in the village and it was commonplace for visitors to drop round asking for help with repairs and alterations – back in the days when “make do and mend” was a way of life and not a trend!

Her big hobby was bingo and she became a regular visitor to the Friday night Bingo games at the newly opened village hall. These days we’re so used to it being there, it’s easy to forget just how big a role everyone in the village at that time played a part in raising money to build and maintain it; so when it was first built it was a real hub of the community and very well supported.

The nursing instinct never really left her. In 1983 her younger sister developed breast cancer and moved in with them, where Nellie nursed her until she died a year later. Soon afterwards, her own very elderly father moved in and she looked after his needs as well as nursing Harold whose own cancer had developed. As Harold died in May 1988, Nellie’s father died the following December.

Throughout all her years as part of village life, Nellie had made a lot of friends: Bill Walters, Freda (his second wife, following Eileen’s death), Edna Holland, Lil Taylor (who ran the corner shop on Green Lane for many decades), Tilly Betton, Lil Johnson – all big village characters and true friends who supported each other and remained together through thick and thin, making sure that none of them were ever left out of things. Nellie died in 1995, having succumbed to lung cancer.

Thanks to David Hancock