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
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
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.
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
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