Discovering Nottingham

The contact for the group is Barbara Gani – 0115 946 8721 email barbara.gani@yahoo.com.

The Discovering Nottingham Group looks at various aspects of the history and architecture of Nottingham. Small groups of members or individuals research various topics and then lead the rest of the group on a guided walk. It is intended that the walks will eventually be made available for other members of Eastwood & District U3A to borrow and use as “self-guided” walks. The Group splits into two due to large numbers and the walk is arranged on two different days each month.

There will be no further meetings in 2018.

The following meetings are planned for 2019:

January – date to be agreed – meeting to plan for the year  


The following walk folders are available for Eastwood & District U3A members to borrow to self-guide*.

Walk 1 – Nottingham Arboretum, General Cemetery, Canning Circus and Park Tunnel.

Walk 2 – Mansfield Road/Milton Street area including the Victoria Station.

Walk 3 – Green’s Windmill and William Booth Birthplace Museum, Sneinton.

Walk 4 – Forest Road East, Jewish Cemetery, Church (Rock) Cemetery and The Forest.

Walk 5 – The General Hospital to Brewhouse Yard.

Walk 7- Watson Fothergill Buildings in Nottingham.

Walk 10 – City Gates

Walk 11 – Nottingham Council House and Old Market Square Area

Walk 12 – Trent Bridge and the Embankment

Walk 13 – Historical Pubs

Walk 14 – The Midland Station and Arkwright Street.

Walk 15 – Plaques and Statues in Nottingham Castle Grounds.

Please see Barbara at a monthly meeting or phone her on
0115 946 8721 if you would like to borrow any of the folders.

*Please note: self guided walks are not covered by U3A insurance.

The group is now full and a new group has been set up – see Hidden Gems.

20th November 2018 – Papplewick Pumping Station

Eighteen members of the group visited Papplewick Pumping station for a guided tour of Britain’s finest working Victorian water pumping station.
The rivers Leen and Trent provided Nottingham’s water. This was delivered to doorsteps by water carriers called Higglers.
During the period 1720 to 1830 the population of Nottingham increased due to the Industrial Revolution, which placed significant demand on water supplies. The link between water-borne diseases, such as, cholera and typhoid was recognised in the 1850s and the need to supply clean filtered water resulted.
Thomas Hawksley, Trent Water Works engineer, focused on groundwater supplies, which is naturally filtered through the Bunter Sandstone.
Three pumping stations supplied Nottingham – Park Works, Bagthorpe and Bestwood.
Water supplies needed to be increased so Nottingham Corporation appointed Marriott Ogle Tarbotton as the engineer to construct Papplewick Pumping Station which would become operational in 1884.
His first action was to increase the supply of water, and so he sunk two wells at Papplewick, where Hawksley had already built a covered reservoir. He designed and erected an ornate pump house, which housed two huge beam
engines, supplied by James Watt & Co. of Birmingham. They were powered by steam from a bank of six Galloway boilers, under normal operation, three of the boilers would be producing steam, and three would be shut down. The station was in use until 1969.
Recognising that the pumping station might quickly deteriorate, once it was no longer in use, the Papplewick Pumping Station Trust was formed in 1974.
The station has one employee and many volunteers to maintain the site and is open to the public twice a week, Wednesdays and Sunday for non-steaming days and steam event weekends throughout the year.

Thursday 18th October – Lace Market Theatre
& St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market 

The Group visited The Lace Market Theatre for a most interesting guided tour. We saw two stages, the changing rooms, the props room, some costumes and had a demonstration of the lighting system. We were told by Dave that they made different lighting programmes for all the plays put on. We were particularly impressed by the new led lights, at a cost of £750.00 each. These lights can be programmed to change colour giving the entire range of the spectrum.

Information on the Lace Market Theatre.  Built on Middle Pavement in 1760 as a sectarian chapel, it then became a Primitive Methodist and next a Wesleyan chapel.  It is a Grade II listed building. The building was used as a school from 1832 till 1850 and between 1836 and 1842 William Booth was associated with it.   It then became a warehouse for lace and other goods (plaque inside theatre) and finally a paint store. The Nottingham Theatre bought it in 1960. Amongst it’s thirteen performances a year there has been Kennedy’s Children, Julius Ceasar and Auditorium.  Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen, Prunella Scales and Timothy West are benefactors.

We also visited St. Mary’s Church which is 1,000 years old having been built by the Normans. It is built in the perpendicular or Gothic style. In 1960 the building was sand blasted, but a small area has been left to show how dirty the building was before renovation. The stained glass windows are only on three sides of the church, as our guide said people only wanted South, East and West facing windows to take advantage of the sun.  See Gallery for photographs.                                         Janet Kirk

St Ann’s Allotments

Twenty-One members of the group went to visit St Anns Allotments on Thursday 9th August, the oldest and largest detached town gardens in Britain. We had a guided tour around a small area of the 75 acre site, which is Grade II listed. For more than 600 years this area has been used by the people of Nottingham. The first recorded evidence of plots being rented are in 1604. In the 1830s the area was divided into individual garden allotments, defined by hedges, that still exist today.

They were used by shopkeepers and professional people who had little or no gardens around their homes. Many had summerhouses with lawns and flower beds and here they could relax. Over time there was a transition moving away from gardens used by the middles classes towards allotment gardens for the poorer workers to supplement their low wages by growing their own fruit and vegetables. In the early twentieth century housing needs were increasing and many allotments were lost to development, and if it hadn’t been for two world wars St Anns Allotments might not be here today, Dig for Victory meant that all available land was used for growing fruit and vegetables.

We ended the tour with tea and biscuits in Oliver’s Heritage Display Garden, named after the last tenant who worked the plot for 20 years, Tom Oliver. The display garden has been divided into four areas, The Victorian Garden, The Dig for Victory Garden, the 21st century garden and a wildlife area. There are two buildings the summerhouse, which has an impressive cast iron fireplace, and the greenhouse. This area has been created so visitors can experience the heritage of this site.

In 1993 a group of allotment holders formed St Anns Allotment Campaign to protect and improve the allotments.

Wollaton Hall

On Thursday 12th July 22 of us went to visit the magnificent Grade 1 listed Elizabethan Mansion. Building started in 1580 and completion in 1588. The Architect was Robert Smythson, who also designed Hardwick Hall. The Property was built for the industrialist and coal owner Sir Francis Willoughby.
Our guide met us in the hallway and talked about the Willoughby family who lived in the house. There were lots of interesting paintings of them in this room. We went up a narrow spiral staircase, 67 steps, into the Prospect Room which has views over the surrounding 500 acre deer park, the avenues of trees and the lake constructed to deceive the eye into thinking it had a river following into it. From the Prospect Room we went out onto the roof walkway where we could see, up close, the Pavilion Towers and the carved stone on the exterior walls.
Next we made our way to the basement area passing a room with a large heavy steel door which would have held the household silver in the day. We then passed through substantial metal gates into the servant sleeping quarters, the bell room and the restored Tudor kitchen. The kitchen has the big open fire place and spits for roasting the meat and a beehive oven for baking bread. Adjacent to the kitchen is the meat preserving room where cuts of meat are preserved by salting.
Beneath the hall is the wine cellars and the Admirals Bath, a large reservoir tank, so called, as accounts report that an Admiral of the Willoughby family took his daily bath there

Report from Walk 17 – Parliament Street Part 1 – From Chapel Bar to the Elite Cinema building.

Thirty Members of the group went on the two walks along Parliament Street in May. We started at the top of Chapel Bar which was originally the gateway into the town of Nottingham, and that no houses were built beyond it until after 1729. The gateway with its two towers was part of the original town wall and incorporated into the basement of a modern building you can see a section of this wall which was excavated during the construction of Maid Marian Way. Three interpretative panels explain the history of the town wall but as these are also inside the building – you could walk within feet of the window and not be aware the wall was on show.
We learnt that originally Parliament Street had been called Back Side, ie the back of the town. This was in a very sorry state and the Member of Parliament for Nottingham was directed to get money from Parliament for its improvement – understandable he refused to ask Parliament for money “to clean up his Back Side” and consequently the name was changed to Parliament Street. The town didn’t expand beyond Parliament Street until the 1870s.
Next we looked at the site of the old Co-operative House which opened in 1916 and closed in 2001 and remembered the Art Deco staircase with fountains, the lift attendants, the revolving door, the Elizabethan Rooms on the top floor and the record booths in the basement which became the “Scoop” bargain shop. We could all recite our mothers “divi” numbers and remembered going “to see Santa in his grotto” at Christmas. Above the central window of the frontage we looked at the three decorative panels depicting local industries as well as the distinctive green copper clad turret at the end of the building – something which appears on many old Co-op buildings throughout the country.
We walked up Parliament Terrace one of the many alleyways off Parliament Street, and looked back at Parliament Street currently a 1960s eyesore. A list of the shops that had graced this section of road in the 1950s bought back many memories.
Dragon Yard and Dilks Yard are both long gone but further along Parliament Street the entrance to Hurts Yard is a reminder of the narrow alleyways what  led to Chapel Bar.
The fox figure is still to be seen on the old Fox Inn (now Parliament Bar and Kitchen) as is the Home Brewery livery from 1928. This hides a much older building which in 1876 was known as The Fox and Owl with Charles Hurt as the landlord (hence Hurts Yard).
We looked at the site of Catherine’s Cottages, which were demolished to make way for the Turkish Baths (later the Skin Clinic) and the News Theatre and from the old photographs of these we could see neighbouring properties which still exist.
To the left hand side of Hurts Yard we looked at old photographs of A B Gibsons Empire House. They were Wholesale Provision Merchants and the carved friezes above their windows solved the mystery of a panel showing provisions we had seen on a previous walk (by the side of the old Pearsons building).
The A B Gibson building was taken over by Pearsons to extend the rear of their Department Store and in 1966 they installed what at the time was “possibly the most imposing store frontage in the city” – a glass window 33 foot high and 27 foot wide.
This building was demolished in the 1990s and government offices and a car park are now on the site.
After looking at the Crown Chambers and another pub The Three Crowns we learnt about the Martins Bank building which opened in 1931 and closed as a bank in May 1979. The building is a quarter segment of a circle and plans show two ellipses forming the Managers Office and staircase (which still exists in what is now Copper, a coffee bar/cafe).
We then learnt about the Theatre Royal which was built in 1865 in just six months, looked at old photographs of Theatre Square with its underground toilets, statue of Samuel Morley, and policeman on point duty, before learning the history of The County Hotel, The Gaumont Cinema and Westminster Buildings.
Across from the Theatre we remembered the Post Office loading Bay, Norfolk Place (another of the narrow alleyways leading down to Long Row), and what had been yet another pub – Parliament House latterly called The Princess.
We finished the walk by hearing about the Elite Building, the former cinema which opened in 1921 and closed in 1977. This building has recently undergone extensive restoration and is now “sparkingly white” and we have been assured by the owner’s agents that there are plans to restore and replace the 25 statues which are now missing from the niches round the top of the building (only three have been replaced so far).
Audrey and Barbara plan to research a further walk along Parliament Street Part 2 – as it was felt that there was far too much to see in one session.

 

Report from Walk 16 – St Barnabas Cathedral, Albert Hall and the Playhouse

In April two groups, 38 members of the group, visited the Cathedral, Albert Hall and the Playhouse.

Father Kevin gave us a guided tour around the interior of the Cathedral and he told us about the history. The Cathedral opened in 1844. Lord Shrewsbury, a champion of the Gothic Revival, stepped forward with financial support and employed the architect A W N  Pugin. We saw the tomb of Mother Mary Potter, the Health Centre in Hyson Green is named after her. We were shown into the crypt, the resting place of some of the past Bishops. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is amazing. It is richly decorated as Pugin had originally intended and is the heart of the Cathedral. (See Photograph in gallery)

We then visited the Albert Hall and had a guided tour. The original Albert Hall opened in 1873 as a Temperance Hall until 1906 when fire swept through the building. The new hall was opened in 1910 by Lady Florence Boot, wife of Jesse Boot of Boots the pharmacy chain. Many notable events have taken place at the hall such as The Rolling Stones, T.Rex and Jethro Tull in concert and many Prime Ministers have appeared Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Great Hall is a wonderful space and houses the Binns organ.

We then went to the Playhouse and Sky Mirror. The theatre was opened in 1963 by Lord Snowden. Its modern external appearance was controversial at the time.  The building has been Grade II listed since 1996. The magnificent centrepiece to the theatre forecourt area is the Sky Mirror which was installed in 2010. The Mirror won the Nottingham Pride of Place in a public vote to determine the city’s favourite landmark.

March 21st 2018 – Notts County Football Club

We had a memorable visit to the County Ground, guided by Les Brad who is the ambassador for the club.  He escorted us through the players’ dressing rooms of Home and Away teams and along newly decorated corridors. We emerged from the famous tunnel and out onto the pitch.  Les gave a very interesting history of the club, pointing out many features of the ground and especially improvements made by the new owner Mr Hardy.  He also escorted us to the banqueting suites.  There are three separate suites starting on the first floor and gradually climbing up the stairs to more palatial ones.  They were impressive.

Les was very friendly and answered all our questions about the club and the players.  We came away with gratitude for his warm welcome. Our smiling faces shone in the sunshine.

Alan Bates

February 2018 – Nottingham Archives

On 14th and 27th February twenty-five members of the Discovering Nottingham Group visited the Nottingham Archives. It was extremely interesting to hear about all the items that are held there, over 4 million documents.

A member of the staff told us about the type of records that are stored on site, for example:
Registers of baptism, marriages and burials;
Local government records;
Public records including hospitals, workhouse and courts;
Records of families, businesses, societies and other organisations and individuals;
School records;
Maps and plans.

The staff put out many documents relating to Eastwood for us to look at: enclosure map dating back to 1793; Treasures Valuation file for Lamb Close House; register of baptism, marriages and burials 1711 to 1751; and lots more very interesting items from our past.

The oldest document we saw was a Royal Charter from Henry II to the Burgesses of Nottingham dating back to 1155.

We had a behind the scenes tour of storage rooms and the conservation room. We saw the amazing work of conservators who repair and preserve items that will be there for the future.

A very informative and worthwhile trip and we would definitely recommend a guided tour.

Ornate stone doorways.

Discovering Nottingham Archive 2017

Discovering Nottingham Archive 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *