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Nottingham montage.jpg
Sights of Nottingham
Grid reference: SK573396
Location: 52°57’3"N, 1°8’52"W
Population: 666,358  (2001)
Postcode: NG
Dialling code: 0115
Local Government
Council: Nottingham

Nottingham is a city in Nottinghamshire, of which it is the county town. It is one of the largest "Core Cities" of the United Kingdom.

Whilst the City of Nottingham has a historically tightly drawn boundary (which accounts for its relatively small population of 288,700), the wider area of Greater Nottingham has a population of 667,000 and is the seventh-largest urban area in the United Kingdom, ranking between those of Liverpool and Sheffield.[1]

Nottingham is famed worldwide for its links with the legend of Robin Hood. During the Industrial Revolution it obtained international recognition for its lace-making and bicycle industries. It was granted its city charter as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897 and has since been officially titled the "City of Nottingham".


nglo-Saxon times, around 600 AD the site formed part of the Kingdom of the Mercians. In the late ninth century, Bishop Asser (himself a Welshman) recorded that Nottingham was known in the British or Old Welsh language as Tig guocobauc, meaning House of Caves. In Welsh it is known poetically as Y Tŷ Ogofog, "The Cavey Dwelling".[2] The name of the city is from the Old English Snotingaham, menaing "Home of the sons of Snot", presumably after an otherwise unknown lord named Snot or Snota. The town's original centre was the area now known as the Lace Market.

Nottingham was captured in 867 by Danish Vikings and later became one of the "Five Burghs", or fortified towns, of the Danelaw.

In the 11th century Nottingham Castle was constructed on a sandstone outcrop by the River Leen. The Anglo-Saxon settlement developed into the English Borough of Nottingham and housed a Town Hall and Law Courts. A settlement also developed around the castle on the hill opposite and was the French borough supporting the Normans in the castle. Eventually, the space between was built on as the town grew and the Old Market Square became the focus of Nottingham several centuries later. On the return of Richard I from the Third Crusade, the castle stood out in Prince John's favour, for which it was besieged by Richard, and after a sharp conflict, captured.[3]

By the 15th century, Nottingham had established itself as the centre of a thriving export trade in religious sculpture made from alabaster[4] The town became a county corporate in 1449[5] giving it effective self-government, in the words of the charter, "for eternity". The Castle and Shire Hall were expressly excluded and technically remained as detached Parishes under the justices of Nottinghamshire.

The Broadway, in the Lace Market

During the Industrial Revolution, much of Nottingham's prosperity was founded on the textile industry; in particular, Nottingham was an internationally important centre of lace manufacture. However, the rapid and poorly planned growth left Nottingham with the reputation of having the worst slums in the British Empire outside India. Residents of these slums rioted in 1831, in protest against the Duke of Newcastle's opposition to the Reform Act 1832, setting fire to his residence, Nottingham Castle.

In common with the British textile industry as a whole, Nottingham's textile sector fell into headlong decline in the decades following Second World War, as British manufacturers proved unable to compete on price or volume with the output of factories in the Far East and South Asia. Very little textile manufacture now takes place in Nottingham, but the city's heyday in this sector endowed it with some fine industrial buildings in the Lace Market district. Many of these have been restored and put to new uses.

Nottingham was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and at that time consisted of the parishes of Nottingham St Mary, Nottingham St Nicholas and Nottingham St Peter. It was expanded in 1877 and in 1889 Nottingham became a county borough. City status was awarded as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria.

Electric trams revolutionised public transport in Nottingham on their inception in 1901; they would serve the city for 35 years until the bus network was expanded in 1936. The city's road network was improved drastically between 1922 and 1932 when a new dual carriageway was built. Housing conditions also began to improve the city's poorer residents at this time, when the first council houses were built on new suburban estates to rehouse families from slum clearances. Mass private house building also took place, with the process continuing to boom until some 30 years after Second World War ended in 1945.

Trams made their comeback in Nottingham after 68 years when a new tram network was opened in 2004.[6]


St Mary the Virgin in the Lace Market

Nottingham has three notable historic parish churches all of which date back to the Middle Ages:

  • St Mary the Virgin in the Lace Market (founded in the eighth or ninth century but the current building dating from 1377 to 1485) is considered the mother church of the city and civic services are held here, including the welcome to the new Lord Mayor of Nottingham each year
  • St Peter's in the heart of the city is the oldest building in continuous use in Nottingham, with traces of building starting in 1180
  • St Nicholas' was rebuilt after destruction in the Civil War

Non-conformism was strong from the 17th century onwards and a variety of chapels and meeting rooms proliferated throughout the town. Many of these grand buildings have been demolished, including Halifax Place Chapel, but some have been re-used, notably High Pavement Chapel which is now a public house. The offices of the Congregational Federation are in Nottingham. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was born in Nottingham in 1829.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Barnabas on Derby Road was designed by Pugin and completed in 1844.


Nottingham Council House and Queen Street
Architecture from different eras side by side

Nottingham is home to a multitude of different architectural styles, with buildings dating from the 1100s. Architects such as Alfred Waterhouse, Thomas Chambers Hine and Nottingham's own Watson Fothergill produced elaborate buildings in the 19th century to meet the expansion generated by increasing industrial output.

The geographical centre of Nottingham is usually defined as the Old Market Square, the largest city square in the United Kingdom. The square is dominated by the Council House, which replaced The Nottingham Exchange Building, built in 1726. The Council House was built in the 1920s to display civic pride, ostentatiously using baroque columns and placing stone statues of two lions at the front to stand watch over the square. The Exchange Arcade, on the ground floor, is an upmarket shopping centre containing high-end boutiques. Portland Stone was used to construct the Council House and Exchange Arcade.

West of the centre

The western third of the city has most of the city's modern office complexes. Tall office buildings line Maid Marian Way. The Georgian area around Oxford and Regent Streets is dominated by small professional firms. Nottingham Castle and its grounds are located further south in the western third of the city. The central third descends from the University district in the north, past the Gothic revival Arkwright Building – Nottingham Trent University now owns this building as well as many others in the area. Theatre Royal on Theatre Square, with its pillared façade, was built in 1865. King and Queen Streets are home to striking Victorian buildings designed by the likes of Alfred Waterhouse and Watson Fothergill.

South of the centre

To the south, is Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. The Canal-side further south of this is adjacent to the Nottingham railway station and home to numerous redeveloped 19th Century industrial buildings reused, as bars and restaurants.

East of the centre

The eastern third of the city centre contains the Victoria Shopping Centre, built in the 1970s on the site of the demolished Victoria Railway Station. All that remains of the old station is the clock tower and the station hotel, now the Nottingham Hilton Hotel. The 250 feet-high Victoria Centre flats stand above the shopping centre and are the tallest buildings in the city. The eastern third contains Hockley Village, where many of Nottingham's unique, independent shops are to be found. It is also home to two alternative cinemas. The Screen Room in Hockley claims to be the smallest cinema in the world with only 21 seats.

Lace Market

Typical red brick lined street in the Lace Market

The Lace Market area just south of Hockley has densely packed streets full of four to seven-story red brick warehouses, ornate iron railings and red phone boxes.

New College Nottingham occupies the The Adams Building Nottingham|Adams Building, built by Thomas Chambers Hine for Thomas Adams (1817–1873). Many buildings have been converted into apartments, bars and restaurants.

St Mary's Church on High Pavement is the largest mediæval building still standing in Nottingham. The Georgian-built Shire Hall is home to the Galleries of Justice and was Nottingham's main court and prison building, for 200 years from 1780, although the site's use as a court stretches back as far as 1375.

Galleries of Justice in the Lace Market


Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, partially built into the cave system beneath Nottingham Castle, is a contender for the title of "England's Oldest Pub" due to its supposed establishment in 1189. The Bell Inn on the Old Market Square, and Ye Olde Salutation Inn on Maid Marian Way, have both disputed this claim. An episode of the Channel 4 TV documentary series History Hunters tested attributes of the three claimants and found that, while each has its own evidence, none can claim exclusivity. The Trip, whilst the oldest building, was for most of its early life a brewery and not a public house. The "Salutation" sits on the oldest recognised public house site, but the current building is comparatively recent. The "The Bell Inn", although not in such an antiquated location, boasts the oldest public house building. There is also conflicting information available: dendrochronology from roof timbers in the "Salutation" give a date for the building of c. 1420 with similar dates for the "Bell". Ultimately, the roots of the multiple claims can be traced to various subtleties of definition in terms such as "public house" and "inn".


Nottingham is home to the headquarters of many well-known companies. One of the best known is Boots the Chemists (now Alliance Boots), founded in the city by Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent in 1849 and substantially expanded by his son John Boot, 2nd Baron Trent. Nottingham is also the home of HM Revenue and Customs, the Driving Standards Agency, and Nottingham Building Society, set up in 1849.

Although Boots itself is no longer a research-based pharmaceutical company, a combination of former Boots researchers and university spin-off companies have spawned a thriving pharmaceutical/science/biotechnology sector. BioCity, the UK's biggest bioscience innovation and incubation centre, sits in the heart of the city and houses around seventy science-based companies. Other notable companies in the sector include Perceptive Informatics and Pharmaceutical Profiles.

Until recently bicycle manufacturing was a major industry, the city being the birthplace of Raleigh Cycles in 1886 and later joined by Sturmey-Archer, the creator of 3-speed hub gears. However, Raleigh's factory on Triumph Road, famous as the location for the filming of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, was demolished in Summer 2003 to make way for the expansion of the University of Nottingham.

Nottingham is also joint headquarters of Paul Smith, the high fashion house.

Nottingham is progressively changing from an industrial city to one based largely in the service sector. Tourism, particularly from the United States and the Far East, is becoming an increasingly significant part of the local economy.


Nottingham Playhouse and Cathedral reflected in Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror


Nottingham has two large-capacity theatres, the Nottingham Playhouse and the Theatre Royal (which, together with the neighbouring Nottingham Royal Concert Hall forms the Royal Centre) and a smaller theatre space at the University of Nottingham's Lakeside Arts Centre. The city is also host to smaller theatre venues, such as the Nottingham Arts Theatre and the Lace Market Theatre.

Also, within the University of Nottingham Campus grounds, The New Theatre, the only entirely student-run theatre in England.

Galleries and museums

There are also several art galleries which often receive national attention, particularly the Nottingham Castle Museum, the University of Nottingham's Djanogly Gallery and Wollaton Park's Yard Gallery. Both of the city's universities also put on a wide range of theatre, music and art events open to the public throughout the year.

  • Brewhouse Yard Museum: the museum of Nottingham Life, based within five 17th-century cottages at the base of the rock of Nottingham Castle. Once a refuge for persecuted members of dissenting religious groups, today, the museum investigates over 300 years of local history.
  • Djanogly Gallery
  • The Galleries of Justice: Museum of Law Trust based at the Shire Hall in the Lace Market
  • Green's Windmill and Science Centre: A unique working windmill in the heart of the city that was home to the 19th Century mathematical miller, George Green
  • New Art Exchange.: an award-winning contemporary art gallery based in Hyson Green. Focus on African, African Caribbean and South Asian art.
  • Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery: home to the city's Decorative Art and Fine Art collections, along with the Story of Nottingham galleries, and the Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum
  • Nottingham Contemporary: art centre
  • Wollaton Hall - an Elizabethan mansion in the heart of Nottingham:
    • Nottingham Industrial Museum
    • Nottingham Natural History Museum
  • Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre (Ruddington): museum of local transport
  • Nottingham's Independent Arts Centre
  • Lakeside: the University of Nottingham's public arts and craft centre

Arts and Crafts

The Hockley Arts Market, is a new arts market that runs alongside Sneinton Market on the fourth Saturday of every month. Started by a collective of textile graduates from Nottingham Trent University, the market acts as a platform for independent artists to showcase and sell their wares. Nottingham artists are represented by The Nottingham Society of Artists, formed in 1880, to bring together artists and art lovers. They have regular exhibitions at their headquarters in St. Lukes House


Ferris Wheel in Old Market Square

Nottingham receives around 300,000 overseas visitors each year.[7] Many visitors are attracted by Nottingham's nightlife and shops, by its history, and by the legend of Robin Hood, visiting Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle. Popular history-based tourist attractions in central Nottingham include the Castle, City of Caves, Lace Market, The Galleries of Justice, and the City's ancient pubs.

Parks and gardens include Wollaton Park (over 500 acres) near the University Highfields Park on the University of Nottingham campus, Colwick Park, which includes the racecourse, and the Nottingham Arboretum, Forest Recreation Ground and Victoria Park which are in or close to the city centre. Sherwood Forest, Rufford Country Park, Creswell Crags and Clumber Park are further away from the city itself. A new park is being developed in the city at the Eastside City development.

King Street with Alfred Waterhouse's and Watson Fothergill's buildings
The Prudential Building

The Nottingham Robin Hood Society was originally formed by Robin Hood historian Jim Lees[8] and two Nottingham teachers Steve and Ewa Theresa West in 1972. Steve and Ewa Theresa played the part of Maid Marion and Robin Hood and attracted a ' band' of like minded followers who ' costumed up ' nearly every weekend for a function. The then society acted in street theatre, appeared at charity events and functions and for several years ' held up ' the appointed Sheriff of Nottingham at the opening of the annual Nottingham Festival. The society also made a film for Japanese Television and joined in picnics and midnight vigils around in Major Oak to promote tourism. Although a Nottingham Robin Hood Society remains, the original society members disbanded after the death of Jim Lees.

There are two main Robin Hood events throughout the Nottingham area, including the Robin Hood Pageant during October, and the Robin Hood Festival during the summer. The pageant is held at the Castle, whilst the festival is held in nearby Sherwood Forest.

In 2009 the Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Leon Unczur set up a Commission to look at the possibility of setting up a World Class Robin Hood Attraction. The Commission was due to report in May 2010.

In February 2008, a Ferris wheel was put up in the Old Market Square and was a major attraction of Nottingham City Council's 'Light Night' on February 8. The wheel returned to Nottingham in February 2009 to mark another night of lights, activities, illuminations and entertainment. Initially marketed as the Nottingham Eye, it was later redubbed as the Nottingham Wheel, to avoid any association with the London Eye.[9] It was seen again in 2010, and is now a much welcomed annual event happening in Nottingham.


The annual Nottingham Goose Fair is held in the first of October and is one of the largest travelling fairs in the country. The fair is held on the Forest Recreation Ground.

Nottingham won the Britain in Bloom competition, in the Large City category, in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2007. It also won the Entente Florale Gold Award in 1998.

Nottingham is home to the acclaimed GameCity annual videogame festival, which attracts leading industry speakers from around the world.


The City Ground and River Trent
  • Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club play at Trent Bridge in the city (a major international cricket venue with a capacity of 17,000)
  • Nottingham is home to two high profile football clubs; Nottingham Forest and Notts County, the latter the oldest extant club in the world, formed in 1862.
  • Nottingham RFC play their home games at Notts County's Meadow Lane stadium
  • The National Water Sports Centre is based at Holme Pierrepont


  • The BBC has its East Midlands]] headquarters in Nottingham
  • Radio:
    • BBC Radio Nottingham
    • Gold (quasi national medium wave station
    • Gem 106
    • Smooth Radio
    • Capital FM
    • Student Radio, broadcast University Radio Nottingham
  • Newspapers:
    • Nottingham Post

Appearance in film

Nottingham has been used as a location in many films, locally, nationally and internationally. A sample of films that were filmed in Nottingham include:[10]

  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)
  • The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
  • The Ragman's Daughter (1972)
  • In Celebration (1975)
  • Twenty Four Seven (1997)
  • Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002)
  • One for the Road (2003)
  • Nottingham Nobody (2004)
  • This Is England (2006)
  • Magicians (2007)
  • [Control (2007)
  • Mum & Dad (2008)
  • Bronson (2009)
  • The Unloved (2009)
  • Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee (2009)
  • Goal 3 (2009)
  • Bunny and the Bull (2009)
  • A Boy Called Dad (2009)
  • Big Things (2009)
  • We Need to Talk About Kieran (2010)
  • Oranges and Sunshine (2010)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2011)


  1. Graham Pointer (2005). "The UK's major urban areas" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  2. "Adobe PDF – Travelling by Train Guide – Welsh" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  3. Thomas Chambers Hine (1876) Nottingham Castle; Nottingham, Eng. Museum and Art Gallery. London:Hamilton, Adams & co.
  4. Mediæval English Alabaster Carvings in the Castle Museum Nottingham, Francis Cheetham, City of Nottingham art Galleries and Museums Committee, 1973
  5. A Centenary history of Nottingham. J V Beckett
  6. [1]
  7. "Overseas Visitors to the UK – Top Towns Visited 2005" (PDF). VisitBritain. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  8. "". 2001-11-18. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  9. "BBC News". BBC News. 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  10. "Most Popular Titles With Filming Locations Matching "Nottingham"". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Nottingham)
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