Chilwell: An Early Garden Suburb

by Joe Earp

Literally in the next few months, Chilwell will be part of the new tram route. The line will cut right through the heart of the Chilwell Inham Nook Estate. The line from Beeston will go down Chilwell Road and by Central College. After the College stop the line will turn right (Northwest) on to a new reserved route, following the route of a stream, through residential areas of Chilwell. There will be stops at Cator Lane, Eskdale Drive, with a penultimate stop at Inham Road. The line will then terminate at Toton Lane Park and Ride Tram Stop.

Most of the area within Chilwell of where the tram route is going belonged to the Pearson family who were horticulturists. The area was well known for it’s beauty. Someone once said: “all you can see in Chilwell is field after field of orchards and flower beds”.

It all started with John Pearson, who was then in the hosiery trade, he was a very keen amateur florist. It is said that one day at Derby whilst visiting a show, Pearson purchased a pair of Carnations in large pots and he feared that they would be changed if he left them where they were. It is reported that he left his horse at Derby and walked eleven miles, carrying a large pot under each arm. He then walked back to Derby to fetch his horse.


John Pearson- Photo Credit: The Paul Nix Collection.

His love of flowers led him to turning his passion into a successful business. He inherited the old Chilwell Manor House, with an orchard attached. Later on, he purchased land wherever he could and planted about one hundred acres of orchards. The orchard was the largest sweet apple orchard in the country at the time.

The family also developed the growth of roses, chrysanthemums and other flowers in glasshouses. The Directory for 1832 names ‘the extensive nurseries kept by Mr. John Pearson’. Pearson eventually removed from Chilwell to Lowdham in Nottinghamshire. However Pearson certainly left his mark in the area. Most of Pearson’s orchards and flower fields continued to be used right up until the mid 1960’s.

My Grandparents moved to Chilwell in 1967 just as the area was being developed into housing estates. My Grandparents and Mum lived at the top of Greenland Crescent. My Mum recalls when they moved there in 1967, much of the area was still orchards and flower beds. At the back of their house (Oakdale Drive, Field Lane area) were rose fields and they were still being worked.


Greenland Crescent, Chilwell, as it is today- Photo Credit: Joe Earp.

Eventually all of the old orchards were removed for the Inham Nook Estate. The estate was built by Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council. Many of the old orchards and fields were compulsory purchased. John Royston Pearson’s presence in the area is still felt, with roads such as Pearson Avenue, Elm Avenue, Oak Acre and Field Lane.

It is interesting to note that the Chilwell Ghost House or Ash Flat House was also at one time owned by John Pearson. Many people know of the Chilwell Ghost from Alan Dance’s excellent book. The original ‘Ghost House’ was a small cottage which was on a small lane which led to Stapleford. I always wondered if the workmen who were constructing the tram would find the body of the murdered pedlar and finely solve the case of the Chilwell Ghost? Up to now no body has been recovered unfortunately, so therefore the mystery of the murdered Pedlar continues.


The Chilwell Ghost House- Photo Credit: Picture the Past.

About nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam

Originally formed in 1965 to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City that took place in Nottingham in the 1960′s. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was notified; last thing they wanted was someone telling them to stop what they were doing; TIME is MONEY. The word HIDDEN in the Team’s title is because a lot of what was being invisibly lost in the redevelopment was our early history in the caves, they are under most, if now all, of Nottingham. In the 80’s and 90’s the Team conducted with the help of Dr Robert Morrell and Syd Henley, research and work on Nottingham’s history, folklore and local archaeology. The Team published quarterly magazines on their findings. The Team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix who was the team leader for thirty plus years. The Team has reformed and is now back working on Nottingham local history. On this blog you will find a series of history, folklore and archaeological related articles and information. Most of the material published will be specifically related to Nottingham/shire local history.
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3 Responses to Chilwell: An Early Garden Suburb

  1. stevebarber says:

    The route the tram takes through Chilwell was never built on as it was to be a dual carriageway road. This project was finally abandoned in the 80’s when it was discovered to be too narrow and to have the capacity of the tram a lit of gardens, playing fields and residences would need to be acquired. The tram takes a third of the original land safeguarded for the dual carriageway. An equivalent area has been acquired for public access.

    The ghost house was close to the tram route which passes through a nearby wood. The body may have been buried in the wood.

  2. whatton says:

    My Mum and Dad bought their first house at the top of Oakdale Drive in 1964, built by Westerman Builders, I lived there till 1981 with them. Thanks for the history lesson. I knew a few of the families who lived on Greenland Cres, The Browns, Soloways and Swinscoes come to mind straight away.

  3. Steph faulkner says:

    I can remember going up ghost house lane as it was then called in the early 50s..also…going up field lane as it’s now called…to seeing an old cemetery…think it overlooked the chill well barracks…it this cemetery still there?

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