This article originally appeared in the Keyworth Local History Society’s newsletter and appears here by kind permission of of the author.
Bob Hammond's excellent article on education in Keyworth after 1870, in which he states that discipline was strict, with frequent use of the cane, especially on boys, brought to mind a story, often repeated to me by village elders whose school life had been spent under the headmastership of Mr Neate. I remember Mr Neate in his old and frail last years, but still a dominant and respected member of the community.
When I was at that school some sixty years ago, it was practice in high summer, at the end of the school day, to make our way down Lings Lane - nearly to the end, squeeze through a gap in the hedge and make our way across two fields down to the Fairham Brook. Quickly divesting ourselves of short trousers and shirt, boots and socks, we would jump into the cool water and splash about until the water became dark and churned up with mud. We even had a choice of pools; Fizzies, every inch of three feet deep, or, further upstream, Old Hole, a dark sinister pool where the brook widened out, arched over completely by tall hawthorn trees which grew on either bank. It had a brooding air of mystery and was reputed to be nine feet deep. Strange tales were told of boys who had dived in, never to reappear - although I never remember any names being mentioned. Old Hole was strictly for the senior boys or strong swimmers. Most of us were content with Fizzies. Drying off was accomplished with the aid of the hot afternoon sun and we then went back home, along the lane for tea. It was a male preserve; girls went there only at weekends or during school holidays.
It was a tradition among Keyworth boys which went back many years; and so to the story, which relates to an event in the early part of the century. The scenario was the same with boys frolicking in the water, but unknown to them, a well known local artist and photographer was wandering along the brook seeking inspiration for some future painting. The setting was ideal and a photograph was taken.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Neate arranged to take some pupils on a hired dray to an exhibition of art and photography being staged in Nottingham Castle. Unknown to him, the photograph had been submitted to the castle art authorities, had been appraised by the committee and awarded first prize in the photographic section. An enlarged version was afforded pride of place and came into view as Mr Neate and his party