Sons and Lovers HTML version

PART I: 1. The Early Married Life Of The
"THE BOTTOMS" succeeded to "Hell Row". Hell Row was a block of thatched,
bulging cottages that stood by the brook-side on Greenhill Lane. There lived the
colliers who worked in the little gin-pits two fields away. The brook ran under the
alder trees, scarcely soiled by these small mines, whose coal was drawn to the
surface by donkeys that plodded wearily in a circle round a gin. And all over the
countryside were these same pits, some of which had been worked in the time of
Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeys burrowing down like ants into the
earth, making queer mounds and little black places among the corn-fields and
the meadows. And the cottages of these coal-miners, in blocks and pairs here
and there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers, straying over
the parish, formed the village of Bestwood.
Then, some sixty years ago, a sudden change took place. The gin-pits were
elbowed aside by the large mines of the financiers. The coal and iron field of
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire was discovered. Carston, Waite and Co.
appeared. Amid tremendous excitement, Lord Palmerston formally opened the
company's first mine at Spinney Park, on the edge of Sherwood Forest.
About this time the notorious Hell Row, which through growing old had acquired
an evil reputation, was burned down, and much dirt was cleansed away.
Carston, Waite & Co. found they had struck on a good thing, so, down the valleys
of the brooks from Selby and Nuttall, new mines were sunk, until soon there were
six pits working. From Nuttall, high up on the sandstone among the woods, the
railway ran, past the ruined priory of the Carthusians and past Robin Hood's
Well, down to Spinney Park, then on to Minton, a large mine among corn-fields;
from Minton across the farmlands of the valley side to Bunker's Hill, branching off
there, and running north to Beggarlee and Selby, that looks over at Crich and the
hills of Derbyshire: six mines like black studs on the countryside, linked by a loop
of fine chain, the railway.
To accommodate the regiments of miners, Carston, Waite and Co. built the
Squares, great quadrangles of dwellings on the hillside of Bestwood, and then, in
the brook valley, on the site of Hell Row, they erected the Bottoms.
The Bottoms consisted of six blocks of miners' dwellings, two rows of three, like
the dots on a blank-six domino, and twelve houses in a block. This double row of