Sit awhile and remember Fred Kitchen

Next time you’re near Bolsover Library have a look and indeed sit awhile on a memorial seat to local author Fred Kitchen, who we remember in this post.

The sculptured seat to Fred Kitchen outside Bolsover Library.

We only briefly mentioned Kitchen in our Bolsover and adjacent parishes VCH ‘big red book’, mainly in connection with the Oxcroft Settlement, where his 1947 publication ‘Settlers in England’ helped record what it was like to live there.

The seat (in reality it’s much more than that) been made possible by local partners including Bolsover Civic Society, local councils and businesses.*

The seat was installed in 2021. It’s in the form of a central wooden seat with sculptured stone ends representing Kitchen’s books. Sculptor Andrew Tebbs was responsible for the stonework. There’s also a plaque which gives further details about Kitchen, who was born in Edwinstowe in 1890 and died in 1969.

A closer view of the seat, with the sculptured stonework at either end representing books that Fred Kitchen published.

From a farming community Fred Kitchen worked in what would have then been hard manual work as a farm labourer. He improved his basic education by enrolling in a Workers’ Educational Association class at Worksop, studying creative writing. His talents developed and he ended up having 16 books published, along with various other works. ‘Brother to the Ox’, an autobiographical work, was perhaps his most famous. It was even adapted as a television and radio play.

A lesser-known work is ‘Gosslington’ a fictious part of the Derbyshire moors, first published in 1965. This is the front cover of the 1967 paperback edition.
‘Settlers in England’ published in 1947 documents Fred Kitchen’s experience of living on the Oxcroft Settlement, near Bolsover. It contained a series of line-drawings by EJ Browne and a map of the estate. The front cover shows a typical small-holding.

Bolsover library also has a small display on Fred Kitchen and a collection of his books, so is well-worth a visit to find out more about this interesting character who wrote about local life and community.

*Bolsover Civic Society, Old Bolsover Town Council, Bolsover District Council, Derbyshire County Council, Rothstone, Morrisons Supermarket, NAL Plant, Stephen Wakelam and Bolsover Rotary.