An oral history from Colin Smith, collected by F Reed for Coddington History Group.

Colin Smith 

In 1929 Len Smith and Agnes Johnson were married at Laxton Church (Agnes's father Sydney Johnson was a farmer at Brockilow Farm, Laxton). After they married they lived on Beacon Hill. Colin was their eldest child born in 1930, Ray 1932, Pam 1934, Dianna 1936 and Terry in 1942. 

Len was a builder by trade having done his apprenticeship with 'George Brown' builders of Newark; he then joined the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters at the outbreak of World War 1 and did his training in England before going to Ireland, he was then sent to France and saw a great deal of action in Ypres. Fortunately he survived the war and returned to work for George Brown in Newark, building houses and factories in the Newark area.


By the early thirties he started business on his own account building houses in Newark and surrounding villages always for customers never speculative building. In about 1936 he was employed by 'Farmer Smith' to build 'The Bungalow' (not the garage) (8, Sleaford Road) on the right hand side of the road as you go out of Coddington and the two sets of semi-detached house ('Fairview', 'Elin-Dale', 'Kelwick View', 'Foxland') just past the bungalow in about 1936/7.


Colin remembers going on to these sites at weekends to help father. Colin remembers just before the 2nd World War going to houses in Coddington and Newark and watching his father install mains water (one cold water tap in the kitchen) thus saving the occupants from going to the local water pump. 

When war came in 1939 Len was too old to be called up but his war effort was to build 'gun turrets' for the ministry of defence around Newark. 'Bofors' anti-aircraft guns were placed on these gun sites, they made a terrific noise when fired. Unfortunately they did not stop the German bombers bombing Ransom and Marles on the 7th March 1941. At the time Len was building a new canteen for the company.

After both the first and second world wars Len built farmhouses and buildings at Rolleston for the government. Colin built 'Mr Hounsfield farmhouse', farm buildings including the piggeries and houses for the farm workers. In Coddington they did a great deal of building work for James, Fred and Jim Hollingworth at Manor Dairy farm, the property which is currently called 'The Inn on the Green' and the surrounding buildings and house, plus all the other properties they owned. At Beaconfield Farm on behalf of Mr Clark in 1947/8 they did improvements to the property plus the instillations of a draining system for the yard and buildings. 

Len Smith was churchwarden at St. Agnes Mission Church on Beacon Hill for many years, young Colin was a server and George Ross from Coddington was one of the Lay preachers (Colin remembers George Ross as a very big man at least 6ft 3 inches tall. 

Colin went to the 'Mount School' until he was 14; he remembers often having a ride home from Newark in Mr Fred Black's (a milk farmer at Catch'em Inn) milk float to save him walking up Beacon Hill. As a young boy Colin remembers seeing horses pulling barges near the locks on the river Trent, the magnificent shires of Warwick & Richardson Brewery, the rag and bone man with his horse and cart, horses at Newark railway goods yard and coal merchants delivering 1 hundredweight sacks of coal from four wheeled carts pulled by a horse. 

In the school holidays Colin often went to his grandfather's farm at Laxton and enjoyed working on the farm, in particular he enjoyed harvest. Whilst there he would sometimes see the Shire Stallions from Mr James Forshaw of Stud farm, Carlton on Trent. (See 

Colin's grandparent on his father's side George Henry Smith was a foreman at Cafferata's brick works on Beacon Hill he died in 1942 aged 78. 

At the age of 14 Colin went to 'The Peoples Building Trade College' at Nottingham, the course included the normal subjects: - English, maths, chemistry, physics, history, geography and the specialist subject was theory and practical building. Colin carried on at the College until he was 18 but at 16 he decided to improve his knowledge by going to night school three nights a week to obtain his City and Guilds and ONC in building. This meant a very long day leaving home at 7:30 am and arriving back at 10:00pm.
Colin was an active member in the Coddington youth group run by the Reverend Dwight in 1947/9.
In 1951 his Majesty requested Colin's presence to do his National Service, he joined the military police for two years serving in Germany. On demob Colin re-joined his father as a builder (bricking, plastering, joinery, plumber) working in Newark and the surrounding villages building houses, farmsteads, garages for the local council etc.

By 1956 Colin decided that besides his day job he would start as a tutor at Newark's Technical College three nights a week, here he taught the principles of the building trade (brickwork, practical and theory). He taught students up to their City & Guilds qualifications. Similar to all education the syllabus changed over the years and eventually the education authorities moved the building course to the Chamber of Commerce where Colin lectured two days and three nights a week teaching N.V.Qs. Colin in fact was a lecturer for 38 years. 

One of the building jobs that he did with his father was to put foundations in for second hand 'Pre-Fabs' which they had bought from London for £200 delivered to site. The 'Pre-Fabs' arrived on a lorry complete with all the fittings (kitchen, bath, toilet etc), Colin and his father erected these with a brick 'skin' and tiled roof. 

When the Royal show was at Wollaton Park, Nottingham on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture they had to demolish a Cart shed at a Fiskerton Farm and erect it on the showground demonstrating for farmers the alternative use they could make of Cart sheds. Colin asked Ted Hough from Brownlow's Hill if he could transport the Cart shed from Fiskerton to Wollaton Park but on the day Ted was too busy so Colin drove the lorry which duly broke down, Colin had to do the repair on the accelerator with a piece of wire, this basically summed up the road worthiness of the vehicle, but it got the job done. 

When his father Len Smith died in 1967 Colin took over the business, he did a great deal of repairs on houses in the village and also built some of the garages for the council. For example when Jean Hough lived at 'The Old Parsonage' in Newark Road he modernised the house and fitted washbasins in the bedrooms as she used the house for bed & breakfast and built 'Grove Cottage' in Newark Road for Pam Branston. Colin built the 'Highfields' pre-school (classrooms and cloakrooms) he did a great deal of work for British Waterways, Newark Council, The Post Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of agriculture. 

Colin was introduced to Janet through his sister Pam in 1953; they both worked at Newark post Office Telephone exchange. Janet has always been a career lady; when the Newark exchange closed she moved to Nottingham Telephone Exchange, eventually this closed so she went to work for the R.E.M.E in Newark (where Brownhill's Mobile Homes are sited) and when this closed she moved to RAF-MOD Swinderby, she retired when this site closed. Janet was a Parish Councillor, a school governor and a Trustee for Coddington United Charity. 

In early 1956 Colin purchased 'Almond Cottage' in Newark Road, this was a three bed roomed house with a large garden. However it needed modernising so Colin had to work very hard to have it completed before he married Janet on the 27th August 1956 at Newark Parish Church. They had two children Clare and Charles who both went to Highfield's school before going to secondary school at Wellow and Lincoln Convent. 

Clare is married and has two children and lives with her husband at Farndon. 
Charles is married to Joanne and they have two children. Simon's Builders, of Lincoln, employ Charles. 

Colin's hobbies are: - gardening, shooting and golf which he plays generally two days a week with his brother and others. To keep his hand in Colin still does some building work for the family just recently building an extension for Charles where he did the brick work, plastering etc.

Fred Reed 11/01/07