After lying in an unmarked grave for over 50 years, Worksop’s very own Romeo and Juliet, Ned and Flo, are to be permanently remembered thanks to the determination of a Shireoaks poet.
Worksop residents may recall the story of the mismatched lovers, known infamously as the inseparable ‘Worksop tramps’, who were shunned by their families and lived out their lives on the open road some 50 years ago.
Ned and Flo touched the hearts of local people after their story appeared in the Guardian back in 2003, including Shireoaks History Society’s Pete Brammer and Bernie Ayton, who undertook extensive research and discovered that the couple were buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in Retford Road Cemetery, Manton.
Pete, a local poet and historian, knew Ned and Flo personally.
He said: “Ned and Flo would visit my grandmother, who lived in Market Street.”
“When Ned and Flo came round, my Grandma’s dog would let them sleep in them sleep in the shed and have a wash down in the stone sink. She’d make them breakfast, some sandwiches to take away, and off they’d go. They used to walk down to Kent to pick fruit and hops, and were even seen in Torquay.”
Researching further into their past, Pete discovered that Ned and Flo had been forced to live on the streets by Ned’s family.
“Ned was a man from a very well-to-do family in Worksop who owned several farms around Manton,” said Pete. “It’s not entirely clear what Flo’s part was in the household- but she was definitely a servant, probably a parlour maid.”
“They fell deeply in love, but of course Ned’s family weren’t pleased at all. They warned Ned that if he continued his relationship with Flo he would be thrown from the family home. He chose Flo over them, and they were homeless from then on.”
“When Ned died in a hedge bottom off Mansfield Road at Holbeck, Flo was taken in through the kindness of the King Edward Hotel on Ryton Street. The building at the rear end of the pub was done up for her, and in payment for taking her in Flo collected the glasses. She was never the same after Ned’s death and died a few years later.”
Six years ago, the Shireoaks History Group tried to buy the pauper’s grave for £100 but were later told it would cost them £365 by Bassetlaw Council. In view of this, the history group decided not to go ahead with the project- but Pete was determined to see Ned and Flo remembered.
Said Pete: “Years later, wgen I decided to purchase the burial plot myself, I was told the price had gone up to £940.”
“To raise this amount, I have visited various organisations to recite my poems. There have also been some wonderful donations from fantastic members of the public, who I thank from the bottom of my heart.”
After being moved by the story, Robert Priest’s Funeral Home supplied a beautiful headstone for the grave free of charge, which has now been installed.
“I cannot thank Robert Priest enough for his kindness,” added Pete.
“Ned and Flo will always be fondly remembered. They were true legends in the town and surrounding areas, and can finally rest in peace.”