Discovering Nottingham Archive 2017

November 2017 – Visit to the National Justice Museum

On 15th November twenty five members of the Discovering Nottingham Group visited the National Justice Museum. It was extremely interesting to learn about the history of justice through time. On arrival we were each given a convict number and as we explored the Museum we discovered the crime we had committed along with the very brutal punishment we were given and saw the instruments of torture that were used. The building has original courtrooms, dungeons and prison cells which are a very dismal sight, cold, damp and dark. We attended a courtroom drama, two members of the museum staff played roles and the other roles in the play were performed by volunteers from our group. We saw a mock hanging which took place in the courtyard, lucky the convict walked free. An excellent place for a visit. See gallery for photographs

October 2017 – Film Show – Goose Fair & Forty Bridges

Twenty six members of the group enjoyed a photograph show by Bill Saxton.  Bill has a vast collection of old glass slides which he has put onto his computer. He showed us a collection of photographs of Goose Fair in the 1900s, when the Fair was held in the Market Square.  It was interesting to see the the rides that were there in the earlier days and the crowds of people who attended the fair.  We also saw the buildings that were around the square in those times and to see which ones still remain today.  For the second half of the evening we saw photographs of the Giltbrook Viaduct known locally as Forty Bridges.  The S shaped viaduct was built between Awsworth and Giltbrook and formed part of the Great Northern Derbyshire Railway extension.  It was an amazing structure but sadly it was demolished in 1973. Hopefully Bill will have more photographs to show in the future.
See gallery for photos from Bill Saxton

Visit to Notts County Cricket Ground

On September 14th twenty one members of the Discovering Nottingham Group had a 2 hour guided tour of Trent Bridge Cricket ground.  It was extremely interesting to see behind the scenes including the long room with all the photos of famous players, together with a display of cricket bats, the media suite, and the control room where we saw how their CCTV system could zoom into every seat in the ground. We all had an excellent tour, with special thanks to our guide Keith, who had a superb in-depth knowledge of the Club since it began in 1839. See gallery for photos

Report from Walk 15  – Plaques and Statues in Nottingham Castle Grounds.

In September two groups went to visit the plaques and statues in the grounds of Nottingham Castle. The statues of Lawrence and Byron are displayed here but we did not realise that there were many more lesser known poets with a connection to Nottingham who are also commemorated within the grounds.  We saw a war memorial to those who died in the Afghan wars, a Sun Dial to remember those who fought and died in the Great War and a memorial listing the names of the people from Nottingham and Nottinghamshire who were awarded the Victoria Cross. There is a splendid statue of Albert Ball V.C. a fighter pilot who died in action in France in 1917 aged 20. There are exceptional views of the City of Nottingham from the Castle grounds. We hope to go into the Castle Museum and Art Gallery in January 2018.  See gallery for photos.

Report from Walk 13 – Historical Pubs

In July our walk took us to six old pubs in the centre of Nottingham, including three which all claim to be’ the oldest’.

The walk started close to the gates of Nottingham Castle where we learned a little about the origins of brewing beer and how it was made available to the public. We first looked at Mortimer’s House on Castle Road, which linked nicely to a previous walk about local architect Watson Fothergill. Although only recently used as a pub it is an interesting building which has had many previous uses.

Walking down the hill we arrived at ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’, which claims to be the oldest inn in England. Cut into the rocks beneath the castle, the pub has many interesting features which can easily be missed if simply visiting for refreshments. The group had time for coffee (or something stronger) as we explored all the various rooms. Interesting items include the Bull’s Horn challenge, the Cursed Galleon, the Pregnancy Chair, the Money Bar and the Haunted Snug. A cave tour is available by prior booking – however a comprehensive history is provided in the folder for this walk.

We then crossed Maid Marion Way to reach ‘The Royal Children’ where we learned about the origins of the name and saw the whalebone that is preserved within the pub. Round the corner we visited ‘Ye Olde Salutation Inn’, which also makes a claim to be the oldest inn. We learned something of it’s history and looked at the older parts inside.

We finished our tour in the market square, where we learned about ‘The Bell Inn’ which has claims on being the oldest. We saw the leprosy windows, the original flagged passageway, the Long room, the Elizabethan room and the stained glass windows.

The last pub visited was Yates Wine Lodge, previously The Talbot where we learned something of it’s past. Some members remembered this venue from their past and recounted their own memories. This concluded the walk – the experts verdict on the oldest pub is given at the end of the folder!

Report from Walk 12 – Trent Bridge and the Embankment

On June 11th we explored the area of the Trent Embankment, the Old Bridge and the New Bridge.

We started our walk where the flood levels are carved into the wall adjacent to Trent bridge.  The principal flood of the 19th century and the two largest recorded were in October 1875.

The first bridge is thought to have been constructed on the site in 920;  a second bridge was started in 1156.  It had 20 aches and a chapel dedicated to St James. We visited the remains of the Old Bridge
at the end of the walk.

Work began on the New Bridge in 1867 and it was opened in 1871.  Eventually after being widened to cope with the flow of mechanical traffic it reopened in 1926.

The River Trent remained a working, useful river for a long time but it would become more of a pleasure river . The ferry boats became the pleasure boats.

The Memorial Gardens came about due to Sir Jesse Boot purchasing the land on the eastern side.  It was laid out to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War.  Queen Victoria’s
statue is in place in the gardens.

The suspension bridge is more than a hundred years old and is a combined pedestrian footbridge.  It is a Grade II listed structure.

County Hall was designed in the 1930s.

There was also a International Exhibition which was built along the river, on the south east side, in May 1903.  This included a concert hall and outside was a water shute, roller coaster, maze and many other attractions.   Sadly a tragic fire in July 1904 resulted in its closure.


Report from Walk 11 – Nottingham Council House
and Old Market Square Area

In May we explored the outside of the Council House and the surrounding streets, many of us seeing statues on the dome of the Council House for the first time. Why do people never look up! We learnt that the Wetherspoons “The Joseph Else” is named after the sculptor of many of these statues including Leo and Oscar (or Menelaus and Agamemnon if you’re more classical) the two lions, that the dome is 200 ft high and Little John the bell weighs ten and a half ton.

We looked at the murals in the Exchange Arcade depicting Nottingham history where Denholm Davis the painter used local people as his models, Albert Ironmonger a Notts County goalkeeper being shown as Little John, and the Architect of the Council House, T Cecil Howitt appears as William the Conquerer’s surveyor for the building of the Castle.

We then looked at High Street, Pelham Street and Victoria Street, and explored one of the remaining old Courtyards of Nottingham, Cobden Chambers. Heard about the swine herds of Swine Green and Byrons first poem written when a child of ten. Coming back down The Poultry we looked at the Flying Horse Arcade (formerly the Travellers Inn and then Flying Horse Hotel), before moving over to the Old Market Square itself.

The Square is three quarters of a mile in circumference and is the largest square in England. We saw where John Player had his first Nottingham shop selling tobacco on Beastmarket Hill, before looking up Angel Row and Long Row West recalling the many well known shops of yesteryear such as Pearson Bros, Croshaws the Restaurant, Pearson & Pearson for prams and toys, Henry Barker Smart and Brown for furniture. This sparked a lot of memories and we all remember queueing to get into the pictures outside the former Odeon and ABC Carlton cinemas.              See Gallery for photographs.

Report from April 2017

Thirty two members of the group enjoyed a film show by member Bill Saxton.  Bill has a collection of very old glass slides which he has painstakingly put on his computer, creating a very interesting show of old Nottingham: from penny farthing cyclists en mass in the Old Market Square to views of the the Old Exchange Building and the building of the present Council House; as well as looking at how many of the streets surrounding the Council House looked in the 1890s and early years of the 1900s. Bill has many more photos and he plans to give us another slide show in October showing Goose Fair.

We are following up this film show by a walk in May around the Council House and Old Market Square looking at what is there now.

Report from Walk 10 – City Gates

Our March discovery entailed a walk taking in 13 of Nottingham’s 16 “Gates”. Gate means thoroughfare from the Norse word “gata”, dating back to AD867 when the Vikings captured the Anglo Saxon town of Snottingham.
The walks were led by Audrey Measures, with Chrys Millington and Andrea Sadler. Two groups of 21 and 12 members met at the Lace Market tram stop on 2nd and 7th March, fortunately both dry and bright days.
From the junction of Fletcher Gate and Warser Gate we moved on to view the impressive Thomas Adams warehouse, particularly admiring the interesting Tympanum over a side door on Warser Gate. We walked down Goose Gate and saw the Grade II listed building that was Jesse Boot’s first herbal shop. Towards Bellar Gate we crossed Barker Gate and observed the contrast between the Watson Fothergill warehouse on the corner of Stoney Street and others after the style of T C Hine. The Bellar Gate Rest Garden is where victims of the 1830’s cholera epidemic were buried. Returning via Hollowstone and Kayes Walk we turned along St Mary’s Gate towards the corner of Pilcher Gate, where Nottingham’s oldest town house is being redeveloped.
Down Byard Lane to Bridlesmith Gate we admired King John’s Chambers, including the tall chimneys stacks with 6 chimney pots all of different patterns. The next building, currently occupied by Joules, dates back to 16C and is an example of the old jettied timber buildings that lined the streets before widening and redevelopment. From St Peter’s Gate we walked down to Lister Gate and up Castle Gate where there are a number of interesting plaques and buildings. After viewing the whalebone in the Royal Children, we returned down Houndsgate, where the “Bridge of Sighs” is now incorporated into one of the flats in the Draper’s bridge redevelopment. We ended our walk on Wheeler Gate where we lamented the loss of the “Oriental Café” to be replaced by the soulless Prudential House.
We learnt about the trades that were based in these old streets and saw many interesting features that have encouraged us to look around and look up!

Report from Walk 9 – Bromley House Library

In February two visits have been made to the Bromley House Library which is situated in a Grade II Georgian Town House with its own walled garden, situated on Angel Row.  The library was founded in 1816 as a independent lending library, and moved to Bromley House (the former home of the Smith banking family) in 1821.  It is now a subscription library (£96 per annum) with charitable status and members are able to access all the books which include many well over 200 years old.  Those more than 200 years can be browsed on site but any from 200 years up to the present day (800 new titles are purchased annually) can be borrowed and taken home.

The building contains many original Georgian features and some fine paintings and furniture and a very interesting Meridian Line (Nottingham time is approximately 4 minutes different from Greenwich meantime but we came into line with Greenwich with the advent of the railways).  This is one of only a few Meridian Lines in the UK, others being at Greenwich and Durham cathedral.

The walled garden is one of only two remaining in Nottingham the other being behind Willoughby House on Low Pavement.  The library attic was also home to the first photographic studio in Nottingham and operated from 1841 until 1955.  See Gallery for photographs. 

Report from Walk 8 – The Malt Cross Music Hall.

Members of the Group visited the Malt Cross Music Hall twice in January and on both occasions learnt a lot about the history of the site.   The Malt Cross originally called The Roebuck was an old pub on St James’s Street, Nottingham and in 1877 the Malt Cross Music Hall was built.    This is now a Grade II listed building and on seeing inside you can understand why.   The roof alone is a masterpiece and must have been unique in its day, being made of bent wood and glass panels.   There is a balcony surrounded by ironwork balustrades, from which customers could look down onto the small stage, whilst eating and drinking.   On the ground floor (now a cafe bar and well worth supporting as proceeds are used by a charitable trust) there are panels of floor “lights” which allow light into the basement area.      The basement area is now used as a space for the Arts and includes meeting rooms, an exhibition area as well as a record shop.    We finished the tour on both occasions by going down into the caves – once again these had been dug out by hand as were all the caves in Nottingham and in this instance used to store beer and wine etc.    It is possible that these two caves link up to a larger cave system further down St James Street but as the passage way is bricked up and full of rubble this has yet to be explored.    Today the  Nottingham Street Pastors use the building as their home as well.