Hidden garden

This little garden is between the top of the steps up from Sneinton Hermitage and Lees Hill Street.

Frozen workers

There's not that much public art in Nottingham, by which I mean art in every day public places.

This statue of four people walking through the street is at the top of Chapel Bar. It seems to me from the individuals' determined expression and the fact that they're not making eye contact with each other that they are on their way to work.

The statue used to stand at the top of the Market Square near Debenhams, but was moved when this area was redeveloped for the tram.

Bulwell stone

All around the suburbs of Nottingham and its suburbs you will see walls built of Bulwell stone.  Bulwell Stone is popular because of its gold/buff/orange colour (due to traces of iron oxide) and because it weathers down quickly to look old.  The blocks are traditionally hand dressed in this rough, rounded shape.

Bulwell Stone actually used to be quarried in Bulwell (and nearby Basford), but now most supplies come from the Yellowstone Quarry in Linby, Notts.

This monster wall is on the corner of Sneinton Hermitage and Manvers Street.

Notable Nottinghamsters - William Booth

William Booth was born in 1829 in Notintone Place, off Sneinton Dale (not be be confused with Notintone Street which in on the other side of the road).

Booth left Nottingham in his twenties and founded the Salvation Army in London in 1865.

This statue stands in front of Booth's house, which is now a museum . The row of three Georgian houses is surrounded by the modern William Booth Memorial Complex which houses a church, community centre, lunchclub, playgroup and older person's residential home. St Stephen's with St Matthias Church is on the opposite side of the road.

Access to the museum courtyard is down the alleyway between the parade of shops on the left and the complex.

The Victoria Hole

Nottingham City Council seems to have a contradictory attitude to car parking.

On the one hand it has a comprehensive transport policy  which talks about reducing car dependency, reducing traffic growth, reducing pollution and improving air quality and on the other and enforcing ever more stricter parking standards. On the other hand it builds its own new car parks and complains when its parking revenue falls because of competition.  The council claimed one of the reasons it had to make staff redundant was because its parking revenue had fallen by £650,000.  There's also an element of 'do what I tell you, not what I do' because the council provides a number of staff car parks adjacent to its own buildings, pays for 'essential' staff to park in the Broad Marsh Centre and leases a large number of places in the Crown Plaza car park.

I suppose I should declare and interest here and state as a non-car owing walker and bus user, I'm on the side of reducing car use, congestion and pollution and improving air quality.

The photo shows the second Victoria Centre car park on York Street.  It was built in the large green ampitheatre known as The Victoria Hole, which was created when the railway lines were taken up. The area is so wide because it had to accommodate trains from both the Great Northern and Great Central railways.  The car park building work was delayed for ages because the hole was home to a large slow worm (legless lizards) colony and volunteers spent months removing and re-locating them.  It was such a missed opportunity building a car park here instead of leaving it as in open space. The board closing off the disused tunnel used to be painted with a Thomas the Tank engine face.

Plumptre Hospital

Plumptre Hospital is a grade II listed building on the corner of Fisher Gate and Poplar Street. It was an almshouse founded in 1392 in the reign of Richard II and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The plaque above the door reads:

'Funded and endowed for the support of a master, a priest and thirteen poor widows by John de Plumptre in 1392. Repaired by Huntingdon Plumptre Esq in AD 1650.  Repaired by John Plumptre Esq in AD 1751.  Repaired by John Plumptre Esq, his son, in AD 1755. The first stone of the present hospital was aid on the first day of August 1823 by Rev Charles Thoams Plumptre Esq, Rector of Claypole Lincoldnshire, on behalf of his father, John Plumptre of Fredville in the County of Kent. The Master or Guardian of the said hospital and descendent of the father'.

The hospital was one of the few to be spared when Edward VI's Chantries Act of 1547 swept away charitable religious institutions. The 1823 building was designed by Edward Staveley (1768 - 1837).  In 1823 each resident received £13 10s, a ton of coal and one gown.  In the garden at the rear there is a plaque on the wall which reads 'Sufficit Meruisis' which means 'it is enough to serve'.

The building was still used as for sheltered housing until the 1980s. It was derelict for about 10 years until it was leased by the RNIB and in 2009 it was the office of the Direct Health Group.


Nottingham was an important Danish settlement and one of the five Midland Danelaw boroughs.  Much of the narrow medieval street pattern still exists and is preserved in streets name ending in 'Gate'.  This has nothing to do with town walls or city gates, but was Scandanavian word for street. The Scandanavian word for gate was 'bar' as reflected in the name Chapel Bar.

Most of these street names with the suffix 'Gate' advertise what was done or sold there, but in some cases the derivation of the street name isn't clear.

Barker Gate for tanners (barker is another word for tanner), one of the oldest road in the city;

Bellar Gate is a bit of mystery it could have something to do with bell making or it could also have meant something like Watchbell Street as it led to one of the town gates where watch would be kept and possibly an alarm bell hung;

Bridlesmith Gate reflects the importance of smiths in Nottingham.  From the middle ages to the late 18 century Bridlesmith Gate was the main shopping street of Nottingham;
Carter Gate (to the left) for cart carriers and makers;

Castle Gate leads from the castle, but was cut in half in the 1960s by Maid Marian Way;

Fisher Gate (below) for fishermen of the Trent and Leen and fishmongers;

Fletcher Gate for flesh hewers ie butchers, not makers of arrows;

Goosegate doesn't have anything to do with geese and gets its name from Robert-le-Gos who was a goldsmith living here in about 1300;

Houndsgate was called Hungate in 1326, hun meaning hound.  This is another ancient street dissected by Maid Marian Way;

Lister Gate was where listers (dyers) laid out their cloths to dry;

Pilcher Gate for plichmakers - makers and dealers of fur garments;

St Mary's Gate where the church of the same name now stands;

St Peter's Gate where the church of the same name now stands;

Warser Gate was called Walsete Gate in 1331, but I can't find out what either word means;

Wheeler Gate for wheelmakers.

Ray Teece has a brilliant site called The City of Nottingham in Pictures and he's got a section of photos covering Nottingham streets , including all the street listed in this post with the exception of Fisher Gate  and Carter Gate whose photos are above.

Famous lions

Two art-deco stone lions guard the entrance to the Council House.  They were created by local sculptor Joseph Else (1874-1955), who was the Principal of the Nottingham School of Art between 1923 and 1939.  Depending who you ask, the lions are either called 'Menelaus and Agamemnon' or 'Leo and Oscar'. Meeting 'by the lions' has become a Nottingham tradition, with the left lion being the most popular of the two.  It's said that the lions roar when a virgin walks by.

The Joseph Else is a Wetherspoon's pub on the South Parade of the Market Square, just down from the Council House.

There's a local arts and listings paper called the Left Lion.

Curious little brick tower

This little brick tower is in a corner of St Mary's Rest Garden. There is a nice black and white metal sign headed 'Curious little brick tower' which tells you all about it:

'This is the curious little brick tower. It is believed that the tower was originally an access shaft to the beck culvert tunnel during its construction, though it later became a ventilation shaft for the culvert, foul air being carried up the shaft and out through the grille at the top'.

Severns Building

Severns Building is on Castle Road opposite the Robin Hood statue. It is was built in the 1430s century and is one of the few surviving medieval buildings in Nottingham.  It originally stood on Middle Pavement near where the entrance to the Broad Marsh Centre is now. It was dismantled and moved to its present site between 1969 and 1970.  Until early 2009 it housed a shop selling lace.

Art or graffiti?

Graffitti can be a terrible eyesore and Nottingham City Council have a crack anti-graffitti squad  who remove graffitti really quickly - 24 hours for offensive stuff and 48 hours for anything else. However, every now and then (and without condoning vandalism) you see something like the work above which is quite arresting.
These headstones appeared in the Rock City car park the day after both Jeremy Beadle and Heath Ledger died.

Robin Hood

If you ask people all around the world what they associate with Nottingham they will probably say 'Robin Hood'.  This statue of Robin Hood is outside Nottingham Castle. 
The council's failure to capitalise on the Robin Hood story is a prime example of modest and contradictory Nottingham.  Many visitors come to Nottingham and want to know about Robin Hood. What is there for them about from this statue and some bits and bobs to buy in the Castle Shop and tourist information centre?  Nothing.  
There used to be an attraction called 'The Tales of Robin Hood' just round the corner from the castle on Maid Marian Way, but it closed in early 2009 after struggling to meet the rent.  The attraction was quite innovative when it first opened. It was based on the the Jorvik Centre in York and had animatronic figures and holograms, but it didn't develop with the times and ended up looking rather tired and very run down.  It remained popular though, with seemingly every little child who visited coming away with a Robin Hood hat and bow and arrow.  All the 'treasures' have been taken over by the council for safekeeping until a decision can be made about how to display them.  The council says there's no money for them to set up a city-owned attraction.  Half the site is now a Tesco.
Someone wants to do something though.  Local showman enterpreneur, James Mellors, wants to build a 100m foot statue of Robin Hood  with lifts going up one leg to a viewing area and restaurant.  Possible locations could be Colwick Woods, Victoria Embankment or near Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

Modest and contradictory Nottingham

Nottingham was settled by the Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Normans; the castle was the seat of monarchs and parliament; it was an inventive town at the forefront of the industrial revolution; it was a centre of radical politics and dissent; it was a city of many firsts; it developed four separate leading industries; it was the home numerous notable Nottinghamsters; one of its football teams won the European Championship twice . . . and yet despite all of this is a very modest city which doesn't celebrate its past and successes.

The council's slogan for the city which you see everywhere is 'A safer, cleaner, ambitious Nottingham a city we're all proud of', but the council doesn't do anything to make any capital out of the city's illustrious past.  I don't know if this modesty or indifference or a desire to be seen as a 'modern' city where dwelling on the past is irrelevant, but this is also contradictory because part of being 'ambitious' for the city is about getting more people to come and visit and spend money.  Exploiting the rich history of the city is one way of achieving this and this can happily co-exist with advertising modern attractions.


There isn't a collective noun for people from Nottingham (like Mancunian, Brummie, Geordie, Scouser) and so I'm going to call us Nottinghamsters.

The first entry

This is a blog about Nottingham - what to see and what to do, with a sprinkling of history.