Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Lenton walk in the gloom

A few days ago I made a quick mid-afternoon dash to Dunkirk Post Office by bus, but decided to walk back, despite the fact it was gloomy and overcast, with the lunchtime news saying heavy rain was on its way.  It's a short walk I have done countless times over the years we have lived in Lenton, but every time I now do something like this I wonder if it will be the last, given our house is up for sale and in three months we could be gone.

 I have to go to Dunkirk because this is Lenton's only remaining post office, which has to survive with both hands tied behind its back. It cannot issue car taxation disks and many Post Office services have been privatised.  I decided to walk back along Abbey Street to take a look at what was happening around the old Nazareth House site.

On the way, I passed the small Spar convenience shop at the Dunkirk Flyover end of Beeston Road. In recent years, a good few small 'corner' shops like this have disappeared, replaced by supermarket 'locals'. In Lenton, we now have three.

Then it was under the Flyover and along Abbey Street to Priory Street, past two pubs along the way and onto Nazareth Road. The mid-20th century extension to Nazareth House was demolished a good few years ago and replaced by a modern apartment block, but the house stood empty for many years, until finally renovated and turned into apartments.

Nazareth House had been a home for children and then elderly folk run by a Catholic order and a good few of the nuns who served there were buried in its grounds when they died. When the site was re-developed, some of the graves remained in situ and this small fenced area contains their remains.

There is a plaque listing the names of the twenty-seven nuns who died between 1902 and 2001 and who remain here. Steve Zaleski, Editor of the Lenton Times has written several articles about Nazareth House.

I moved on past what remains of the old Cluniac Lenton Priory and onto Gregory Street, where these houses have had to live with Tram works for the best part of a year. As yet no tracks have been laid and on one side of the road work has yet to start. The Tram operating company has said the new line between Nottingham Station and Chilwell will open on 14 December 2014. We shall see.

Turn the other way and you see this. It all looks a mess, but it may be that all the services and utilities under the road have been moved and within weeks work will be finished.

I then continued my walk home along the footpath I long ago named 'Leenside' because it follows an old course of the River Leen, the river which gives Lenton its name. I had it to myself and I like the sense of isolation it gives me, despite the proximity of housing on one side.

This is where the footpath meets the end of Grove Road once you have walked under the railway bridge. The higher bridge carries Abbeybridge road over the railway line. An inner-city corner of Lenton few see or notice.

Once under the railway bridge I turned left onto Hungerton Street, the east side of which has this rather handsome terrace, with the old Lenton Primary School in the distance and the tower of Lenton's Holy Trinity parish church peeking over the roof of the school. Over the years I have taken a good few photographs of the street, usually on sunny days, but, somehow, I like the winter feel of this photograph.

Then onto Lenton Boulevard, where I had previously spied this new tea and coffee shop, which I am unlikely to use, given that I am less than a couple of minutes from home. It had no customers, but I hope it does well. The light was fading fast as the rain clouds gathered again.

This is the long closed New Lenton Post Office — much as it looked when it closed five years ago. A bit of signage missing, but otherwise the same, decaying from the inside out if what you can see of the interior is anything to go by. No one seems to care or comment. The shop with the shutters down closed a good twenty years ago.

By the time I got to Lorna's Florists and Greengrocers, a few yards nearer home, it was well on the way to being dark and an eery blue light had enveloped Lenton Boulevard. A few steps later and I was home and as I put the kettle on to make a cup of tea, the heavens opened. A well timed walk across a small part of inner-city Lenton which I could illustrate with as many photographs again, but every step I now take in Lenton is counted, for my days here are coming to an end and I am beginning to feel the emotional impact physically. People say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do and they are right.

Thirty-five years here is half my life. I have a story about Lenton Recreation Ground waiting in the wings, just another couple of photographs to take...

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