We remember an Eastwood legend

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WILLIAM E. Hopkin was a prominent, highly regarded figure in Eastwood and appears in several DH Lawrence novels.

He was a town councillor for 50 years, a governor at two schools, and one of DH Lawrence’s closes friends.

A magistrate by profession, Mr Hopkin also ran a shoe shop and Post Office in town, wrote poetry and a ‘Rambling Notes’ column for the Advertiser, and would fill much of his time lecturing on literature.

After Lawrence’s death, as a member of the DH Lawrence Society, Mr Hopkin would give talks on the life and works of the writer.

He died in 1951 as he stood up to present to a group in Alfreton.

A collection of Lawrence books belonging to Mr Hopkin sits in Eastwood library – all in a locked glass case because they are first editions sent to Mr Hopkin personally, and all signed by the writer himself.

Fred Skillington, who lives in South Street, has always been fascinated by Mr Hopkin and the work he did, in particular his Rambling Notes column in the Advertiser where he would report on his group’s latest rambles and walks around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

“The group would go walking whatever the weather and then the column would appear every week saying where they had been and what they had seen,” he said.

Mr Skillington described him as a ‘remarkable’ man, who did a lot to help people out in his role as town and county councillor.

“He was a very well known person and well respected character in Eastwood,” he said.

Mr Skillington has the metal name plate that Hopkin had on his front gate at Hilltop, a book that was given to him when he retired from the council in 1950, all signed by town councillors, and copies of the Advertiser with his Rambling Notes dating back to the early 1930s.

The 80-year-old, who lives in South Street and is a member of the DH Lawrence Society himself, said he remembers seeing Mr Hopkin around as a child.

“He was someone in Eastwood that we knew and saw, but I was only young at the time. I remembers I would see him around at school as a child because he was governor, and I used to buy shoes from his shop.”

Mr Hopkin served on a total of 35 committees and was made Alderman, a mark of respect for work done on the council, in 1949.

“He was a great character and it was a sad loss when he died,” Mr Skillington said. “The list of people across the county that went to his funeral was never ending.”

At the time of his death the Advertiser wrote: “He was a prominent figure in the commercial life of the town for over 60 years and a leading spirit for well over 40 years.

“As well as being on the town council, he represented Eastwood on the county council for 30 years and was regarded as one of the most popular members.”

Mr Hopkin was born in 1907 and grew up in Devonshire Drive, before getting married and moving to his Nottingham Road bungalow at Hilltop, where he stayed for the rest of his life.