Retford Men’s Probus Club

by | 13 March 2020 | Probus, Social Group

When Retford Men’s Probus Club met on Friday 24th January at Westhill Community Centre in Ordsall, Ian Morgan was the invited speaker. His talk, entitled ‘Footpads, Kings and Highwaymen’, told the tale of events encountered by travellers as they made their way north or south passing through the county of Nottinghamshire using the paths bridleways and tracks known as the great North Road. This was in the day before motorways or bypasses of course.

No traffic jams or breakdowns to consider, no cars even, horseback, coach or by foot being the popular methods available!
The Great North Road enters the county just south of Balderton, crosses the Fosseway at Newark, passes through the old post-town of Tuxford, and on to Retford and Bawtry. Its name is more familiar than that of the North Road because it became the main trunk to the north. Newark-on-Trent, or Newark, is a market town and civil parish in the Newark and Sherwood district of the county of Nottinghamshire, in the East Midlands of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1 — on the route of the ancient Great North Road. The speaker highlighted the problems and risks faced by the travelling fraternity, including those mentioned in the title. Road tax existed, even in those days, but in the form of toll booths, some which still stand today, but non-operational.

The Great North Road was the main highway between London and Scotland. It became a coaching route used by mail coaches travelling between London, York and Edinburgh. The modern A1 mainly parallels the route of the Great North Road. Coaching inns, many of which survive, were staging posts providing accommodation, stabling for horses and replacement mounts. Nowadays virtually no surviving coaching inns can be seen while driving on the A1, because the modern route bypasses the towns in which the inns are found.

The group listened intently as the talk continued with Retford, Scrooby and Bawtry mentioned several times. A very informative and certainly educational experience thanks to the efforts of the organisers of the club and of course the speaker Ian Morgan!

New members are always welcome at Retford Men’s Probus Club. Their meetings take place at the Westhill Community Centre, Ordsall at 10.00am every other Friday. To find out more see or contact the club via or 07542 852037.