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May 2003
Writer - Ztan Zmith
Ztan Zmith - Writer
Ztan Zmith - Writer
Ztan Zmith is the pen name of Stan Smith of Brinsley, Chairman of the Nottingham Writers Club.
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Writer profile
Ztan Zmith is the pen name of Stan Smith of Brinsley, Chairman of the Nottingham Writers Club and also Chairman of Basford and District Local History Society.

Stan has written many articles, short stories and poems which have been featured in a variety of publications and on Radio Nottingham.

He also writes about fascinating local characters from the past who lived in extraordinary times which has led to the publication of four books for the Heritage Press and three books based on his home village of Brinsley.

Stan is also editor of The Basford Bystander a by-monthly Community Newspaper devoted to Nostalgia and local History in and around Basford, Nottingham.

Writer's Work - Pieman

Simple Simon met a Pieman going to the fair,
Said Simple Simon to the Pieman: "Let me taste your ware. "
Said the Pieman unto Simon: "Show me first your penny. "
Said Simple Simon to the Pieman: "Sir 1 have not any."

Radford in Nottingham had its own Pieman, who may or may not have met Simple Simon. But, just like that Pieman, he carried a tray of pies strung round his neck and rang a handbell to attract customers. His name was Mr. Gaskell.

"Pies. Hot pies," he would cry ringing his bell. "They're tasty. Buy them while they're hot."

At the onset of every autumn and the start of the cold, wet, wintry months, street vendors have always done a roaring trade with hot foods, especially roasted chestnuts, baked potatoes and hot meat pies.

Georgian ladies in sweeping dresses and their menfolk in greatcoats and mufflers were no different from the common folk. They too developed a taste for hot, nineteenth century outdoor fast foods. Mr. Gaskell of Radford, Nottingham, knew how to exploit this. In a few short years he amassed a considerable fortune from selling penny meat pies.

Using locally butchered meat and flour ground at one of the many windmills on the Forest, the Penny Pieman couldn't put a foot wrong.

Not only were his pies popular, they were cheap and filling and just the thing for the housewives to pack up for their men folk to take down the local pits.

Eventually, the Pieman rang his bell for the last time. Having sold sufficient pies and saved enough money to build his own house and he chose to live within sight of the thirteen windmills on the Forest. Inevitably his house became known as Penny Pie Hall.

Mr. Gaskell, the original Pieman, was a strong character and after his death a succession of owners lived in Penny Pie Hall in Radford. Most were unusual to say the least.

One of them, it is said, was often to be seen in his front garden, enjoying a ride on the back of a pig. His mount meant more to him as a steed than as a filling for meat pies. No wonder the ghostly sound of a Pieman's bell was said to be heard on a dark, moonless night.

Ownership of Penny Pie Hall passed to Alderman Burton, who was very concerned about the local poor and, at every opportunity, he would buy as many boots and shoes as he could afford, to distribute to his less fortunate neighbours. in the winter time.

After his death his executors discovered thousands of pairs of boots and shoes stored in every room and every nook and cranny of Penny Pie Hall.

A later owner divided the house into two flats and each family lived in 'Half Penny Pie Hall."
At the turn of the century Penny Pie Hall was demolished and it was said that, at dusk, for many months, there could be heard the mournful tones of a Pieman's handbell.

The bricks of Penny Pie Hall, however were preserved and were built into a house on Mapperley Plains in Nottingham. In a sense, Penny Pie Hall lives on.

So, the next time you stop to buy hot mushy peas or a baked potato from a street vendor think of Mr. Gaskell, the Penny Pie Man. The man who serves you your hot, fast food may well be saving for his own Penny Pie Hall.

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