Olive Eden OBE

Olive Lax was born at 13 Olive Street, Sunderland in 1907/08; her parents being Charles and Margaret Agnes Lax.


In summer 1930 Olive married James Eden. They moved south to Chaddesden, settling at 44 Rupert Road in 1936, after a long period of unemployment for Jimmy. He found work at Celanese before moving to Rolls-Royce for the rest of his working life.

Olive was elected to Chaddesden Parish Council in 1946, and shortly afterwards was elected to Derbyshire County Council, becoming a County Alderman in 1957. Her chairmanship of the parish council ran simultaneously with her work on the County Education Committee and on the South Derbyshire Divisional Executive, of which she was vice chairman for many years. Chaddesden County Secondary School, which was opened in 1955 was renamed The Olive Eden Secondary School in her honour.

Margaret Poyser recalls,

“I knew her best for her role with the elderly folk of Chaddesden. There was a brick shelter set just above the cricket ground where the pensioners would go for a chat and watch the cricket match’s, my Grandpa was one of them. Eventually there was need for a larger building as the membership continued to grow, so the Wooden Hut arrived. Various activities were held for the members including a luncheon club, craft making, trips and visits as well as the annual holiday by coach to the seaside, usually for a week. Bertha Jackson of 24 Rupert Road would help Olive Eden with the running of the group in the role of organiser. There was a team of ladies who would put on teas for the members, as well as organising a sick visiting rota whenever a member was ill or infirm. a Local youth groups would be drafted in to help with redecorating and other help. This building is much bigger now with more facilities to help the elderly citizens of Chaddesden.”

As Margaret has shown, it was in the voluntary sphere that Olive took greatest pride. As well as chairman of Derbyshire Old Peoples Welfare Committee and her membership of the Derbyshire Association of Parish Councils she was also a member of the National Association of Old Peoples Welfare Committees. Her very busy life was not allowed to undermine her precious family privacy, which she cherished, and it was this side of her life that sustained her in her more public role.

Olive left the Chaddesden Parish Council in 1962 and despite ill health and overcoming the effects of a nasty car crash, she stood for re-election to the same body in 1965.

She was appointed a Justice of the Peace and sat on many Court hearings and she was awarded an OBE for her outstanding contribution to Chaddesden and its citizens.

After spending most of her life helping the people of Chaddesden, Olive died in June 1997 aged 89.

Original text by Andrew Bailey in March 2011 with thanks to The Derby Telegraph, Margaret Poyser, Peter Cholerton, Tony Bowler and the late Maureen Hunt for additional information. Revised by Peter Barnes with additions, April 2021.



Chaddesden Parish Council

Parish councils were established by the 1894 Local Government Act for parishes with a population of 300 or more. A parish council was a body of five to fifteen persons, depending on the population of the parish, elected by popular vote. The terms of office for a parish councillor was three years. The parish councils had powers to acquire land for the provision of allotments or for recreation purposes, to provide a public water supply, rights of way among other things. Some powers, such as education, planning and provision of a police force were reserved for the higher rural district and county councils.

Chaddesden Parish Council in the early 1930s comprised six members, none of them admitting any political affiliation. After the April 1933 election, John Henry Bullock continued as the chairman for the 6th year in succession. The vice-chairman was William Henry Booth Guy. The other councillors were Herbert Garratt, C R Heywood, Harry Fearn Leuty and Thomas Poyser. Edgar Llewellyn was the Clerk.

When Mr Bullock died at home on 28 March 1935 at the age of 54, he was succeeded by Mr Guy as chairman. Edward Bennett of Chaddesden Lane was co-opted onto the council to fill the vacant seat without an election.

The council was transformed at the April 1937 election when the number of councillors was increased to 10 and there were 23 candidates. The new council included George Russell Cope, the first Labour member and Kezia Evans, the first woman. As there were no elections during the war, this council remained in office until 1946.

For the election on 30 March 1946, the Labour party selected 10 candidates: including the only Labour retiring member, Mr George Cope. The others were Mr C J Merrey, Mr Robert Davis, chairman of Chaddesden Labour Party, Mrs Olive Eden, Mr Harold Hale, Mr Leslie Tomblin, Mr Joseph Morris, Mrs Doreen Parker, Mrs Kate Walker and Mr S P Hooper, a member of the South Derbyshire Labour Party Executive Committee.

Mr John Fisher, a schoolmaster, and Mr C J Merrey, a railway guard, were selected as Labour candidates for Chaddesden in the Shardlow Rural District Council (RDC) election that took place on the same day.

The Derby Evening Telegraph for 1 April 1946 reported the results as follows:

Chaddesden Parish Council (10 seats)

J Fisher (Lab) 954; G R Cope (Lab) 786; Mrs Olive Eden (Lab) 769; E. Martin (Ind) 713; R Davis (Lab) 700; S P Hooper (Lab) 693; H Hale (Lab) 669; Mrs K Walker (Lab) 669; Mrs D M Parker (Lab) 665; L A Tomlinson (Lab) 649.

Shardlow Rural District Council – Chaddesden Parish (2 seats)

J Fisher (Lab) 906; C J Merrey (Lab) 782; E Martin (Ind) 727; W J M Addey (Ind) 569.


Cope's Way and Martin Drive

George Cope and Edward Martin were the only pre-war councillors to be re-elected. Their names may be familiar because they are also the names of two of the streets on the Shardlow RDC estate built on the east side of Wood Road around 1953.

But what of the other two streets on the estate? Audrey Drive is named after the daughter of Councillor Merrey. Perhaps Merrey Drive was considered unsuitable as a street name.

Several streets in Britain have the Scottish name Moncrieff, but there is only one Moncrieff Crescent. Some people have asked if Moncrieff Crescent is named after the political journalist, Chris Moncrieff, who was born at Cherry Tree Hill in 1931, or his father, Robert Moncrieff, who was a research chemist at British Celanese and the author of several papers on man-made fibres.

No, neither of those; the Moncrieff family had left Chaddesden long before Moncrieff Crescent was built and Chris Moncrieff was merely a journalist on the Harrogate Herald at the time. The street is named indirectly after Councillor Olive Eden. Chaddesden already had streets named Olive Grove and Eden Road. Olive Eden' s maiden name was Lax, which would be an unfortunate choice for a street name. By using her mother's maiden name, Margaret Agnes Moncrieff, Olive Eden's Scottish ancestry is commemorated and Chaddesden has a street with an unusual name.