griffins house on green 001Amongst several family albums seen by the History Society is that of the Griffin family who lived at number 8 The Green. This had the dubious priviledge of being one of the last houses in the village not to have a WC (Water Closet). For the benefit of our younger readers the old lavatories always located in the garden were just metal containers that were emptied weekly into a specially-designed lorries run by the local council. The house was cleared in 1988 following the death of David Absalom Griffin known as griffin time capsule 003Ab. Inside and out the house was truly a 'time capsule', seemingly having changed little over the many years that it had been occupied by Ab and his sister Martha May Griffin known as May. Many in the village will remember May standing by the gate seen here to the left. It seems that she had 'never been the same' since receiving a kick to the head from a horse. In the set of 3 coloured photos you can see the outside lavatory and the ivy-clad rear of the house as well as other artefacts removed from the house including one of the stuffed birds, a dolly tub and a tin bath. Quite obviously for many years only one of the downstairs rooms had been lived in - all the other rooms were piled high with bric a brac and old tools and other stuff including a clock made by Henry Spittle late of Hathern. Dust and mould was everywhere. Also found were pieces of an ancient framework knitting machine which we only realised later was of great interest - see last part of this article.

The Griffin connection to Hathern was the result of John Griffin of Anstey (1818-1894) marrying Hathern girl Elizabeth/Eliza Hickling (1821-1887) the daughter of Aaron Hickling widower and Mary Bowley on October 4th 1847 and moving to a house on the Green. It was a double wedding : also married on that Autumn day were widower Thomas Hickling  (1785-1866) and the aforementioned and recently widowed Mary Bowley. Her new husband Thomas Hickling aged 62 was the grandson of Aaron's brother Farmer (geddit ?)  Thomas himself was marrying for the second time after the death of his first wife Hannah Fletcher. Soon after George also from Anstey had married and settled in Golden Square but later moved to Kegworth. Just in case you aren't confused enough there was another wedding on Christmas Day 1848 where another Mary Bowley the 19 year old daughter of William married Fred Spencer. This was a time when many people moved to Hathern to work in hosiery.  

ab and may gravestoneIn the 1851 and 1861 census we can see John and Eliza living on the Green bringing up their daughter Martha born in 1850. When Martha was only 17 and still single she gave birth to a boy Henry (Harry) Griffin before marrying David Thompson. In 1871 David and Martha and the five year old Harry lived with John and Eliza on the Green. In the following years they moved next door on The Green and brought up seven Thompson children of their own, all boys of whom the youngest Absalom who worked as a terracotta modeller at Hathernware as can be seen on a photo in our work gallery. Warning. This Ab Thompson is not to be confused with the Ab Griffin described below ! Therafter Henry throughout his life retained the Griffin surname. In 1895 Henry (Harry) married Kate Amelia King from Osgathorpe and in 1900 Henry was elected onto the newly-formed Hathern branch of the Framework-knitters Union. The couple had 4 children - John William in 1902, Harry King in 1909, David Absalom in 1913 and Martha May in 1918 (a girl at last !).  So what happened to them ? In the 1939 Register John a millwright is now married and living in the row of cottages at the bottom of Green Hill. The other 3 had not married and lived still with their parents on the Green. Harry and Ab were described as 'Heavy Workers' working as Grinding Fitters at Hatherware which was producing chemical stoneware to be used in explosives factories. Martha worked as a winder of hosiery. Late in life Harry married and lived at Loughborough and it was he (by now a widower) who put the house up for auction when Ab died. In 1952 D.A.Griffin is registered as the main householder at 8 The Green and this is where May and Ab lived until their deaths in 1982 and 1988 respectively. So, lets have a look at stuff from the family album and other bits found when the house was cleared.


As you can see Ab was a keen member of St John's Ambulance and in December 1937 passed an examination in Air Raid Precautions. Even two years before WW2 started there was concern about chemical warfare from the air and this is reflected chillingly in this list of typical war gases that formed the basis of the course (found in Ab's house).

Now back to the knitting machine found in parts in the house in 1988. For many years therafter the various bits languished in the upper floor of J Alex Swift's factory. Then in June 2018 (?) the History Society and the factory enlisted the help of the Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum.  The various parts were moved up to a barn to Oakley Grange where the working parts and the frame were cleaned and re-assembled. It turns out that the machine uses a Derby Rib component and is now unique being the only complete machine with this attachment. The Derby Rib was developed by Jedidiah Strutt. It was his grandson Edward who built and lived in Kingston Hall.  Warning conspiracy theory there a connection ? Henry played football for Kingston. And in all the census records from 1811 to 1911 the 'ribbed top' knitting machine is only mentioned twice and one of these was operated by George Griffin in Golden Square. We cannot be sure when the knitting machine was last used but in 1901 and 1911 Harry, a framework knitter in silk, is working from home. Kate in 1901, a seamer of silk hosiery, is also working from home.  Below are the photos taken of the machine parts being recovered and rebuilt before being put on display in the church. 

The restored machine, albeit not in working order, is now back in J Alex Swift's factory.

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