Holmewood: Where The Devil Feared To Tread

I enter the scene of this true story walking very slowly, sombrero pulled down to cover my eyes, cigarette hanging loosely from my trembling lips, Jeans slightly soiled at the back, the music from the good, the bad and the ugly accompanying my quivering entrance into a place that god dare not go!!

Welcome to Holmewood in the 70s and 80s, a village where the most battle hardened SAS veteran would probably defecate his pants!!

Holmewood in the years mentioned was a bloody battleground, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. I coined a phrase after working in the village for a short time in the late 80s, I called it ‘Britain’s first open air prison’, a prison that violently refused to have a warden.

So, I’ve painted the picture, now I’ll tell you a few stories about the place.

I worked in and around the village during the mid to late 80s. At that time, I was working for Northeast Derbyshire District Council, moving from property to property as a draft proofer. Over a period of about 2 months, I was part of a small team that worked on properties that were occupied, attaching strips of pliable pvc strips against doors and windows in an attempt to make the property draft free.

I had heard stories about Holmewood from friends but I didn’t really believe them until I actually worked on properties in village. The village was a bit of a bomb site back then, with shop windows missing, rubbish floating around front and back gardens and clanish pubs were outsiders were rarely welcomed. One particular house springs to mind. It was occupied by a single man who had one of his children living with him. (I actually remember his name, but dare not say it 🤣)

When he opened the door to us, head shaved, wearing a vest and scowled at us, asking us who the f$#k we were!! It was only after we explained that we were from the council to improve his house that his teeth stopped grinding (Probably anticipating the taste of our flesh) and he allowed us in, slamming the door behind us.

Once inside, his demeanour chilled out quite alot. He made me and my work mate a cup of tea and followed us around the house chatting away. He was surprisingly articulate but his house was a virtual gym, with weight benches in the living room and in his bedroom, with hardly any sign of furniture, apart from his son’s bedroom, which had large glossy posters of half naked women alongside model aeroplanes that hung from the ceiling and school clothes hanging from the curtain poles. Now, me and my friend didn’t ask him about his son, he just decided to talk about him and why his son lived with him. Apparently, the large gorilla type who was talking to us had taken great joy in repeatedly beating up the man who was having an affair with his wife!! He told us every detail and his eyes shone with excitement. He had discovered who the other man was, marched to the football pitch where a Sunday league match was underway, walked up to him, knocked him out and sat on him, patiently waiting for him to wake up! When he did wake up, he beat him unconscious again and waited for him to come around so he could repeat his punishment!! The football match came to a halt and everyone watched the assault without attempting any intervention. Whilst he was telling us, his mate walked into the house to tell him that the “Wanker” had just walked into the gorillas ex-wife’s house. (I felt sorrow and pity for the said “Wanker”) Gorilla looked at us and ‘Told’ us he would be 10 minutes and that he would trust us to carry on until he came back!! Then he took something that was metal and shiny from a kitchen drawer and disappeared out of the door.

He came back after a short while, put the metal thing back in the kitchen drawer, washed his hands, turned around to the two of us and asked very cheerfully if we fancied a cup of tea!

His gorillaesque friend looked at us and asked the lead gorilla, without taking his eyes off us, if he should go and get the lads for us?!?!

The gorilla of the house told him we were ok and told him to f$#k off, which he did. Baring in mind that myself and my work buddy were pretty big and physically fit at the time, I don’t mind admitting that I was beginning to hatch a plan of escape in my mind.

As it turned out, we were safe to complete the job (Double time) and get out with all limbs still intact!!

Strangely enough, I bumped into him a few years later on a Sunday morning. He was managing the Holmewood football team that was playing on a football pitch local to me. My mum loved to watch Sunday league football and came with me. The gorilla was pacing up and down the touchline, following the on-field action. He walked past us and started ranting and raving, every other word an expletive. I was chuckling to myself and so was mum when he turned around, recognised me, nodded, turned to my mum and apologised for swearing in her presence!!

So violent gorillas have manners!

That was the last time I ever saw him. I wonder what he’s doing now?!

I’ll carry this on in a later post.