Ilkeston - The Blue
w/e 11 August
"The Blue Pig Mystery" is not the title
of some long lost Agatha Christie novel although it may take
an Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple to solve it. I'll give you some
I am indebted to Mr Roy Gregory, an Ilkestonian who now resides
in Sierra Madre, California for bringing the Blue Pig to my attention.
Roy told me that it was situated at the bottom of Awsworth Road
near the Canal Bridge but he didn't tell me what it was. Of all
the roads leading into Ilkeston, this one from Awsworth is by
far the narrowest and passes over the Erewash Canal via a single
track, hump back bridge.
Enquiries suggested the the Blue Pig was an old seat that had
now been removed but lo and behold, when I visited the site I
found two seats. Three local residents, Doreen and Jack Holmes
and Herbert Blount sitting on the newer of the seats, in their
own words "watching the world go by", immediately directed
my attention to to a low bench with a resounding "That's
Two cast iron supports bearing the name "Midland Foundry,
Sandiacre, near Nottingham" are part of the original construction
although it is believed the wooden seat has been replaced. Roy
had given me a clue in his email when he wrote that it had "given
aid to many a traveller between Ilkeston and Awsworth" and
"in its time was the most used object in Ilkeston other
than the public conveniences".
So that solves the first part of the mystery - we know what the
Blue Pig is but how did it get its name? It transpired in conversation
as Herbert and Jack posed for me that Herbert (left) knows Roy
- he sends his regards - but neither of them nor Doreen could
give me an explanation for the name.
I tested the Blue Pig for myself and this is the view from it
of the Bridge Inn across the road. Some of the people sitting
outside were inquisitive about what I was doing so I went across
to talk to them. They too knew the name but not its origin. They
proffered a theory that it could be something to do with molten
pig iron which sometimes turns blue when cooling but finished
by saying, "If Herbert doesn't know, then nobody will."
Returning to the Blue Pig, Doreen pointed to an outbuilding at
the rear of the Inn and recounted how canal horses used to be
stabled there overnight along with their drivers who slept alongside
them. She also told of people coming out of the Bridge Inn and
either jumping or falling into the canal. I'm sure if the Blue
Pig could talk there would be many a tale to tell. It could even
tell how it got its name but that will remain a secret for ever
- unless of course YOU know different.
Roy has written to me again with some more information but the
origin of the name remains a mystery. "It is for sure
it has been there for over 100 years. In about 1950 the Corporation
replaced the wooden seat. My older sister 81 now, told me that
the cast iron ends were painted blue when she was a small girl.
I would imagine that might have had something to do with being
called the Blue Pig. I remember them being a dark green colour."
Thanks Roy for bringing this interesting piece of Ilkeston's
history to our attention and for all your help.