Just recently was the ‘Nottingham Big Day Out’. Similar to the ‘Nottingham Big Night Out’ where many restaurants and other businesses offer cheap for free deals, the former has an open day policy to many of the county’s attractions, such as it’s museums. I can recommend availing yourself of this day. I and my partner decided on taking a trip up to Dukes Wood near Eakring and later to Calverton Folk Museum on the free Sunday and both were fascinating visits.
Dukes Wood, for the uninitiated is a woodland near Eakring in north Nottinghamshire where oil was struck in Nottinghamshire just as WWII was breaking out in 1939. It remained top secret and contributed 2,000,000 barrels of oil towards the war effort. A team of oil men were imported from Oklahoma, US, to work on the field where around two hundred places of extraction grew with the woods. The American roughnecks were billeted in Kelham Hall at Newark and their story was told in a stage production which was shown in Mansfield a few years ago.
Nowadays Dukes Wood remains as a pleasant nature trail with the unusual addition of several ‘nodding donkeys’ which extracted the oil, scattered around the pretty pathways. There is also a small information centre which houses memorabilia about those times past. A small air raid shelter still stand near the centre. During our visit we had the great pleasure of talking to a gentleman who was actually part of the oil industry at Eakring and he was extremely informative. Leafing through the many old black and white photographs he mentioned ‘Frank’ who he was working with at the time. This turned out to be no less than Sir Frank Whittle who worked at Eakring for 18 months back in those days.
We were told that oil extraction only ended in 1999 and that oil was being again brought out at nearby Kirklington. Searching for oil also endures in Sherwood Forest apparently.
it always appears to me that this is one of the lesser-known and more fascinating stories about Nottinghamshire. For those not aware of it, it’s a pleasant afternoon stroll in a beautiful area straight back into modern-day history and only a relatively short drive north of the city.