Piecing together history of shop

Nancy O'Donovan with one of the deeds to her shop dating back to the 1800's. (w110121-5a)
Nancy O'Donovan with one of the deeds to her shop dating back to the 1800's. (w110121-5a)
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THE Knitters Shop on Potter Street, Worksop, seems quite unassuming from the outside.

Anyone not interested in wool would pass by without a second glance.

And yet this small shop holds a wealth of history going back well over three hundred years.

Owner Nancy O’Donovan has parchment deeds for number 31, a grade II listed building, dating back to 1690.

She bought it in 1987. It had previously been a jewellers and watchmaker’s.

She said: “This shop would have been a house back in 1690 and the original stone staircase is still here.”

“The wooden double gates leading to the cottages at the back look really old as well.”

“There would have been stables and the pig sty troughs are still down there in the wall.”

“The doorstep going into the house behind the shop is Derbyshire granite and I rescued a stone mantelpiece top which had come from Shireoaks Hall.”

Mrs O’Donovan, 81, of Cuckney, worked as a secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Portland and Lady Anne Bentinck at Welbeck Woodhouse for 47 years.

She discovered a love of knitting when Lady Anne bought a knitting machine.

“I decided to buy one as well and I’ve knitted ever since.”

“I bought a lot of wool and had a little warehouse in Gladstone Street, then I bought 14 Carlton Road as a shop and it just mushroomed from there.”

“Knitting is still popular and we do well on sewing as well because we carry such a lot of stock.”

“I’ve got no plans to retire because I enjoy it too much. I still knit and sew all sorts of things.”

Among the pile of douments relating to the shop is the 1901 census which showed a Richard Rollitt living there, who was a joiner and builder. He was still there a decade later for the 1911 census. Another document shows he died in 1924 and a John Rollitt, presumably a relation, died in 1889.

The 1881 census shows a boot and shoe dealer called Dave Barlow was the occupier then.

In 1826 a Stokeham Huthwaite left the property to a Thomas Wearing.

Another fascinating document, dated 8th June 1827, records how a Lt John Huthwaite was killed in a duel in the West Indies.

There is a bill from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1934 for a corn rent of 12 shillings and Mrs O’Donovan thinks this could relate to a former malthouse at the back of number 33 Potter Street next door.

There are references in the paperwork to a Henry Donston, and the Masonic Hall next door to the shop is also named Donston House.

Mrs O’Donovan, who is widowed and has one daughter, also believes there was an apothecary next door at some time.

She said: “My daughter has been through the papers, but we could really do with someone who knows what they are looking for to go through them.”

Mrs O’Donovan was born at Cheapside, Worksop. She went to the Priory School and then the Tech College before taking up her secretarial post.

When she bought 31 Potter Street the back was in a rundown state and she did a lot of work to upgrade it.

Can you help to piece together the history of 31 Potter Street, or do you recognise any of the names mentioned above? If so please get in touch with us, or email Pat Malkin at Worksop Family History Group on familiesru@yahoo.co.uk.