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Love for St Ann’s runs deep even in face of ‘gone dead’ challenges

todayJune 19, 2022 1

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A man who grew up in St Ann’s has spoken out about his experiences living in the area, including racism and his concerns for the next generation. He has reminisced on things that are no longer there and his hopes for St Ann’s future.

59-year-old Dennis Laing, a double glazer, grew up in St Ann’s. He still lives in the area.

Dennis, who has two children and one grandchild had moved to East Leake for a period of time but has since returned to St Ann’s. Dennis spoke about what the area was like when he was a child.

Read more: Why ‘I love St Ann’s and don’t plan to ever move’

He said: “In St Ann’s, the houses were old buildings with toilets outside and coal fires. There was no central heating but we used to enjoy that, when we washed our clothes, we’d put them near the coalfire to get them warm.

“Each Sunday, my mum used to take me to church on the Chase. When I was younger, I enjoyed it but as I got older, I knew that church wasn’t for me. Back in the day, The Chase used to be great, there were shops there and a library.

“There was a fish and chip shop but it’s all gone dead now.”

Dennis mentioned that the One Stop convenience store on Wells Road in St Ann’s was a former doctors surgery. There was a dentist too.

In 1981, Dennis remembers the Hyson Green riots. On the weekend of July 10th-12th there were a series of riots related to racial tensions between the black and Asian community and the police.

Dennis recalls being stopped and searched, he said: “I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t even know the riots were going off in Hyson Green at this point. I saw two police officers at my door, questioning me and asking me where I had been and where I was coming from.

“I was coming from town. It made me angry being racially profiled about something I didn’t even know was kicking off.”

This wasn’t Dennis’s first encounter with the police and being stopped and searched. Dennis, doesn’t feel like racism has gotten better.

He said: “It’s [racism] has never gotten better. It’s always going to stay.”

Speaking about the things he misses in the area, like many people, Dennis misses St Ann’s pub. The area no longer has a pub.

The nearest pubs to St Ann’s are in areas such as: town, Mapperley and Snienton. The Sycamore pub was Dennis’s local pub.

He said: “I miss the Sycamore pub, when I was a kid my mum used to take us there. I spent time with my friends and family, it’s a church now but I know many people who are against that – I’d like to see it turned into another pub!

“There are so many places that used to be there that aren’t anymore. There’s nowhere for people to enjoy themselves now everything been locked off.”

Dennis would also like to see youth facilities in the area. He said: “The young ones don’t care any more, there’s no community spirit to show them the way.

“There’s no after school clubs and now with the pressures of bills rising, how are you expecting parents to pay for extras? People have to look after themselves.

“I think that St Ann’s started to go downhill in the 90s, Thatcher’s government destroyed the country. St Ann’s has always been good because of the people but the area in general does still need work.

“I’d never leave, I’ve moved before but I’ve always preferred St Ann’s. It feels like there’s no future for it but the area means the world to me.”

Labour Councillor Corall Jenkins, councillor for the St Ann’s ward said the ward has so much to offer. She said: “I’m really pleased to represent St Ann’s – it’s vibrant, lively and a place where people get on well together. Over the past few years we’ve made a number of improvements to the parks across the ward, at Heskey Park, King Edward Park, the Chase and Sycamore Park, replacing equipment and renewing the surfaces and I know there’s much more to do.

“In the coming months, I’m looking forward to seeing through further improvements right across St Ann’s, improving the footpaths on Windmill Lane, Serlby Rise and Robin Hood Street. We’ll also make sure the long awaited resurfacing of roads like Bond Street, Walker Street and Aster Road also takes place.

“Place like ACNA and culturally significant and belongs right in the heart of the ward – set up to improve the quality of life for African Caribbean people living in Nottingham. It’s home to decades of memories and cherished by many.”

If you have fond memories of the area that you are from in Nottingham and you’d like to tell your story, please do get in contact with Nottinghamshire Live’s community reporter, Keimae Blake who can be contacted on: keimae.blake@reachplc.com. We would love to hear from you.

Written by: thehitnetwork

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