Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Living in Knightthorpe

I lived for a while in the 1970s at Knightthorpe, a district of Loughborough in Leicestershire.

You’ve probably not heard of Knightthorpe unless you live in Loughborough, but it’s a pretty old settlement that began quite independently of the better known town.

Although I am now best known for being a Blue Badge Guide, largely in the Leicestershire area, until 1975 I had never visited the area. I had never been to Leicester, or Derby, or Nottingham, or the triangle of land between these three East Midland cities.

But I applied for a job with Charnwood Borough Council as Manager of the Town Hall at Loughborough, and was invited to an interview.

At the time I was living at North End in Portsmouth, and managing the Odeon Cinema at Cosham.

So I went to the interview, liked what I saw, and was offered the job. I accepted, and a few weeks later arrived in Loughborough to start work.

The council found a flat for me, in an estate where the streets were all named after castles – Harlech Close, Pevensey Road, Rockingham Road, Warwick Way. I lived in Durham Road.

At the time, I was a heavy smoker. I’ve not had a cigarette since 1991, but at that time I smoked a lot. On my first night in my new flat, I realised during the evening that I had not got enough cigarettes to last me until I went out in the morning. That induced something of a panic in me. But I realised that all I needed to do was to find a pub, where I would be able to buy some.

So I went round to the nice elderly couple next door, and asked the gentleman if he could direct me to the nearest pub. “No need for that, me duck”, he said. I wondered if I should worry about him calling me “me duck”, but decided to let it pass. “Just go down that jitty over the road, and you’ll come to a beer off.”

Well, I didn’t want to appear stupid, so I didn’t ask what a jitty was, or what a beer off was. So I followed his general gaze, and found a pathway (where I come from, we would have called it an alley). I walked along it, and came to a corner shop, which included an off licence.

That was the beginning of my education in Leicestershire dialect. Remember, I had never been here before. From then on, corner shops were referred to in my family as “beer offs at the ends of jitties”. Sadly, I walked past the site a few months ago, and the original beer off at the end of the jitty is now just a private house.

It was while I was working at Loughborough that I met my future wife, Anne, who came from Barrow-upon-Soar. We got married in Loughborough in 1976, when my divorce became final.

I liked Loughborough, and of course often lead Guided Walks around the town now, in my capacity as a Blue Badge Guide.

Anne and I left Loughborough and moved to Ramsgate at the end of the decade.