|Mechanics Institute from derbyinpictures.com|
For a while in my teens I used to visit the Mechanics Institute in Derby to play table tennis and sometimes a frame or two of snooker. The Mechanics was housed in a tall Victorian building with a kind of entrance vestibule on the ground floor. A wide staircase led to the upper floors.
Upstairs there were meeting rooms, a bar, library snooker room and table tennis rooms. There was nothing in the vestibule apart from a wooden bench upholstered in brown leather.
One cold evening there was a woman sitting on the bench who didn’t seem to belong somehow. You came across all kinds of people in the Mechanics, but she didn’t seem to fit.
Later that evening a friend said she was Cattle Market Kate, a well-know local prostitute. She usually plied her trade around the Cattle Market area when the local farmers came to market.
As you can see from the link, she was at one time quite a character, but I think my encounter would have been quite a few years later. All I really remember was how forlorn she looked. Sheltering from the cold I suppose. A quick fag and back to work. Yet even Kate was somebody’s little daughter once upon a time.