A Potted History of Plumtree
Plumtree is situated five miles south-west of Nottingham. The Turnpike road from Nottingham to Melton Mowbray used to run through the village, but now by-passes it as the A606. The ancient ecclesiastical parish includes, in addition to the village of Plumtree itself, two hamlets or townships: Normanton-on-the-Wolds, and Clipston. Keyworth may also once have been a Plumtree township, but achieved full parish status, probably in the 13th. century.
The civil parish of Plumtree excludes Normanton and Clipston. Its population in 1801 was 209; it reached a peak of 338 in 1831, since when it has declined, and is today (1991 census) 180. Plumtree remained a predominantly agricultural community, with little industry and few commuters until people were able to move by bus or car.
The Midland Railway opened a railway station to serve the village on Monday, 2nd February, 1880. The station was situated a little outside of the village. It was closed to regular passenger traffic on Saturday, 26th February, 1949, though it was used by a few excursion trains and more frequent goods trains, while regular expresses from London passed through until the line’s closure in the 1960s. However, the timetable which came into effect on 23rd May, 1949 still had freight train which stopped at Plumtree to deliver drinking water. After the line closed to regular passenger traffic in 1949 there were occasional excursions to various destinations such as the coast, football matches etc. The last time that the station was used for passengers was believed to be in the Summer of 1959 when two excursions went to Skegness and Mablethorpe. The line was used in February and March of 1961 to conduct some test running of the, then new, Midland Pullman. Since then, the line has been used as an experimental testing track and proving facility for new engines and rolling stock. The site of the original station and buildings still exists and is now Perkins Wine Bar.
With the impending demise of Nottingham’s trolleybuses in the 1960’s the Nottingham Trolleybus Group was formed to preserve, and hopefully run, some of the old trolleybuses. The site chosen as the centre for these activities was Plumtree station and by 1967 the group, now known as the East Midlands Tram Society, had twelve trams stored at Plumtree. The hope was that the group could run trolleybuses from Plumtree to Widmerpool. along the old railway track-bed. However, British Railways refusal to sell the line, (as they had by then ear-marked it as a test facility), meant that the trolleybus museum project became stillborn. By 1972 there were only four trolleybuses still remaining on the site and these had all gone by 1974. Most of the trolleybuses from the Plumtree project eventually found their way to the trolleybus museum at Sandtoft in Lincolnshire.
Plumtree has one of the older churches in south Nottinghamshire, with some Saxon stonework and a Norman arch over the west door. Close by are a large Georgian rectory (no longer occupied by the rector) and the Burnside parish hall, named after two generations of Burnsides who were rectors of Plumtree through most of the 19th. century.
There has never been a Non-conformist chapel in the village, though a Wesleyan chapel in Normanton, now converted into a private house, was only half a mile from the centre of Plumtree. A National (church) school was opened in 1940 and closed in 1974. The building is still in use as a private school, drawing children from a wide catchment area. There used to be a windmill, destroyed by fire in 1913, together with blacksmith, shop-cum-post office and two public houses, named the Farmers Arms and the Griffin Inn. The Farmers Arms has disappeared but the Griffin Inn still survives. It was built, in it’s current form, in 1843 on the site of an older, smaller establishment. Little is known of the former establishment other than that materials relating to it and over three hundred years old have been uncovered by builders working on the current premises.
Until the building of the bypass, (the A.606), before the Second World War, Plumtree was on the main Nottingham to Melton Mowbray road. At one time Plumtree used to hold an annual wake, held two weeks after Whitsun, which lasted for three days. Unfortunately the custom died out with the coming of the 1939 - 1945 World War.