Area Guides - Nottingham
Nottingham (/ˈnɒtɪŋəm/ (listen) NOT-ing-əm) is a city and unitary authority area in Nottinghamshire, England. Part of the East Midlands region, it is 128 miles (206 km) north of London and 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Birmingham.
Nottingham has links to the legend of Robin Hood and to the lace-making, bicycle (notably Raleigh bikes) and tobacco industries. It was granted its city charter in 1897, as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Nottingham is a tourist destination; in 2018, the city received the second highest number of overnight visitors in the Midlands and the highest number in the East Midlands.
In 2020, Nottingham had an estimated population of 330,000. The wider conurbation, which includes many of the city’s suburbs, has a population of 768,638. It is the largest urban area in the East Midlands and the second-largest in the Midlands. Its Functional Urban Area, also the largest in the East Midlands, has a population of 919,484. The population of the Nottingham/Derby metropolitan area is estimated to be 1,610,000.
Its metropolitan economy is the seventh largest in the United Kingdom with a GDP of $50.9bn (2014). The city was the first in the East Midlands to be ranked as a sufficiency-level world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
Nottingham’s public transport system won awards prior to 2015, including the largest publicly owned bus network in England. The city is also served by Nottingham railway station and the modern Nottingham Express Transit tram system.
It is also a major sporting centre and, in October 2015, was named ‘Home of English Sport’. The National Ice Centre, Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre and Trent Bridge international cricket ground are all based in or around the city, which is also the home of two professional football teams; the former world’s oldest professional league club Notts County and Nottingham Forest, famously two-time winners of the UEFA European Cup under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor in 1979 and 1980. The city also has professional rugby, ice hockey and cricket teams, and the Aegon Nottingham Open, an international tennis tournament on the ATP and WTA tours. This accolade came just over a year after Nottingham was named as the UK’s first City of Football.
On 11 December 2015, Nottingham was named a “City of Literature” by UNESCO, joining Dublin, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Prague as one of only a handful in the world. The title reflects Nottingham’s literary heritage, with Lord Byron, D. H. Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe having links to the city, as well as a contemporary literary community, a publishing industry and a poetry scene.
The city is served by three universities: the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Law; hosting the highest concentration of higher education providers in the East Midlands.
The settlement may predate Anglo-Saxon times, as hinted at in a Welsh tradition of an earlier Brythonic name being Tigguo Cobauc, meaning Place of Caves (known also as “City of Caves”). In modern Welsh it is known poetically as Y Tŷ Ogofog and Irish as Na Tithe Uaimh “The Cavey Dwelling”. When it fell under the rule of a Saxon chieftain named Snot it became known as “Snotingaham”; the homestead of Snot’s people (-inga = the people of; -ham = homestead). Some authors derive “Nottingham” from Snottenga, caves, and ham, but “this has nothing to do with the English form”.
Nottingham Castle was constructed in 1068 on a sandstone outcrop by the River Leen. The Anglo-Saxon settlement was originally confined to the area today known as the Lace Market and was surrounded by a substantial defensive ditch and rampart, which fell out of use following the Norman Conquest and was filled by the time of the Domesday Survey (1086). Following the Norman Conquest the 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. Defences consisted initially of a ditch and bank in the early 12th century. The ditch was later widened, in the mid-13th century, and a stone wall built around much of the perimeter of the town. A short length of the wall survives, and is visible at the northern end of Maid Marian Way, and is protected as a Scheduled Monument.
On the return of Richard the Lionheart from the Crusades, the castle was occupied by supporters of Prince John, including the Sheriff of Nottingham. It was besieged by Richard and, after a sharp conflict, was captured. In the legends of Robin Hood, Nottingham Castle is the scene of the final showdown between the Sheriff and the hero outlaw.
By the 15th century Nottingham had established itself as a centre of a thriving export trade in religious sculpture made from Nottingham alabaster. The town became a county corporate in 1449 giving it effective self-government, in the words of the charter, “for eternity”. The Castle and Shire Hall were expressly excluded and remained as detached Parishes of Nottinghamshire.
One of those highly impressed by Nottingham in the late 18th century was the German traveller C. P. Moritz, who wrote in 1782, “Of all the towns I have seen outside London, Nottingham is the loveliest and neatest. Everything had a modern look, and a large space in the centre was hardly less handsome than a London square. A charming footpath leads over the fields to the highway, where a bridge spans the Trent. … Nottingham … with its high houses, red roofs and church steeples, looks excellent from a distance.”
Nottingham was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and at that time consisted of the parishes of St Mary, St Nicholas and St Peter. It was expanded in 1877 by adding the parishes of Basford, Brewhouse Yard, Bulwell, Radford, Sneinton, Standard Hill, and parts of the parishes of West Bridgford, Carlton, Wilford (North Wilford). In 1889 Nottingham became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. City status was awarded as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria, being signified in a letter from the prime minister, the Marquess of Salisbury to the mayor, dated 18 June 1897. Nottingham was extended in 1933 by adding Bilborough and Wollaton, parts of the parishes of Bestwood Park and Colwick, and a recently developed part of the Beeston Urban DistrictElectric trams were introduced to the city in 1901; they served the city for 35 years until 1936. Trams were reintroduced after 68 years when a new network opened in 2004.
In the sporting world, Nottingham is home to the world’s oldest professional football club, Notts County, which was formed in 1862. The town’s other football club, Nottingham Forest, had a period of success between 1977 and 1993 under manager Brian Clough, winning the First Division, four League Cups, a UEFA Super Cup and two European Cups. During this time Forest signed Trevor Francis, Britain’s first £1 million footballer, who joined the club in February 1979 from Birmingham City.
The geographical centre of Nottingham is usually defined as the Old Market Square. 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 boutiques.
Tall office buildings line Maid Marian Way. The Georgian area around Oxford and Regent Streets is dominated by small professional firms. The Albert Hall faces the Gothic revival St Barnabas’ Roman Catholic Cathedral by Pugin. 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 Nottingham Trent University’s Gothic revival Arkwright Building. The university also owns many other buildings in this area. The 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 such architects as Alfred Waterhouse and Watson Fothergill.
To the south, is Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. The Canal-side further south of this is adjacent to Nottingham railway station and home to numerous redeveloped 19th-century industrial buildings, reused as bars and restaurants.
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-foot-high Victoria Centre flats stand above the shopping centre and are the tallest buildings in the city. The eastern third contains Hockley Village. Hockley is where many of Nottingham’s unique, independent shops are to be found. It is also home to two alternative cinemas.
The Lace Market area just south of Hockley has streets with four- to seven-storey red brick warehouses, iron railings and red phone boxes. Many of the buildings have been converted into apartments, bars and restaurants. The largest building in the Lace Market is the Adams Building, built by Thomas Chambers Hine for Thomas Adams (1807–1873), and currently used by Nottingham College. The Georgian-built Shire Hall, which was once Nottingham's main court and prison building, is now home to the National Justice Museum (formerly the "Galleries of Justice").
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem (the Trip), partially built into the cave system beneath Nottingham Castle, is a contender for the title of England's Oldest Pub, as it is supposed to have been established in 1189. The Bell Inn in the Old Market Square, and Ye Olde Salutation Inn (the Salutation) in Maid Marian Way have both disputed this claim. The Trip's current timber building probably dates back to the 17th or 18th century, but the caves are certainly older and may have been used to store beer and water for the castle during medieval times. There are also caves beneath the Salutation that date back to the medieval period, although they are no longer used as beer cellars. The Bell Inn is probably the oldest of the three pub buildings still standing, according to dendrochronology, and has medieval cellars that are still used to store beer.
Almost 62,000 students attend the city’s three universities, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Law and the University of Nottingham; in the 2016/17 academic year, Trent University was attended by 29,370 students and Nottingham University by 32,515. The University of Nottingham Medical School is part of the Queen’s Medical Centre.
There are three colleges of further education located in Nottingham: Bilborough College is solely a sixth form college; Nottingham College was formed in 2017, by the amalgamation of Central College Nottingham and New College Nottingham (which had both previously formed from the merger of smaller FE colleges); and the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, owned by Nottingham Trent University, is a further education college that specialises in media. The city has dozens of sixth form colleges and academies, providing education and training for adults aged over sixteen.
Nottingham also has a number of independent schools. The city’s oldest educational establishment is Nottingham High School, which was founded in 1513.
Nottingham is the East Midlands’ largest economy.
In 2010, Nottingham City Council announced that the target sectors of their economic development strategy would include low-carbon technologies; digital media; life sciences; financial and business services; and retail and leisure.
Nottingham is home to the headquarters of several companies. These include Alliance Boots (formerly Boots the Chemists); Chinook Sciences; GM (cricket bats); Pedigree pet food; VF Corporation (American clothing); Changan Automobile (Chinese-made automobiles); the credit reference agency Experian; energy company E.ON UK; betting company Gala Group; amusement and gambling machine manufacturer Bell-Fruit-Games; engineering company Siemens; sportswear manufacturers Speedo; high-street opticians Vision Express and Specsavers; games and publishing company Games Workshop; PC software developer Serif Europe (publisher of PagePlus and other titles); web hosting provider Heart Internet; the American credit card company Capital One; the national law firm Browne Jacobson; and Earache Records, an independent music company founded by local resident Digby Pearson, based on Handel Street in Sneinton. Nottingham also has offices of Nottingham Building Society (established 1849); HM Revenue and Customs; the Driving Standards Agency; Ofsted; the Care Quality Commission; and BBC East Midlands.
Nottingham was named one of the UK’s six science cities in 2005 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. Among the science-based industries within the city is BioCity. Founded as a joint venture between Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, it is the UK’s biggest bioscience innovation and incubation centre, housing around 80 science-based companies.
Until recently, bicycle manufacturing was a major industry: the city was the birthplace of Raleigh Cycles in 1886, later joined by Sturmey-Archer, the developer of three-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 2003 to make way for the University of Nottingham’s expansion of its Jubilee Campus. The schools and aerial photographers, H Tempest Ltd, were Nottingham-based for many years, until relocating to St. Ives (Cornwall) January 1959.
In 2015, Nottingham was ranked in the top 10 UK cities for job growth (from 2004 to 2013), in the public and private sectors. And in the same year, it was revealed that more new companies were started in Nottingham in 2014-15 than in any other UK city, with a 68% year-on-year increase.
In March 2011, the government announced the creation of Nottingham Enterprise Zone, an enterprise zone sited on part of the Boots Estate. In March 2012, Nottingham Science Park, Beeston Business Park and Nottingham Medipark were added to the zone. In December 2014, the government announced that the zone would be expanded again, to include Infinity Park Derby, a planned business park for aerospace, rail and automotive technology adjacent to the Rolls-Royce site in Sinfin, Derby.
The Creative Quarter is a project started by Nottingham City Council as part of the Nottingham City Deal. Centred on the east of the city (including the Lace Market, Hockley, Broadmarsh East, the Island site and BioCity), the project aims at creating growth and jobs. In July 2012, the government contributed £25 million towards a £45 million venture capital fund, mainly targeted at the Creative Quarter.
Theatres and cinemas
Nottingham has two large-capacity theatres, the Nottingham Playhouse and the Theatre Royal, which together with the neighbouring Royal Concert Hall forms the Royal Centre. The city also contains smaller theatre venues such as the Nottingham Arts Theatre, the Lace Market Theatre, New Theatre and Nonsuch Studios. There is a Cineworld and a Showcase in the city. Independent cinemas include the Arthouse Broadway Cinema in Hockley, and the four-screen Art Deco Savoy Cinema
Galleries and museums
The city contains several notable museums and art galleries including: • National Justice Museum – Museum of Law, Crime and Punishment through the ages, based at the Shire Hall in the Lace Market. • City of Caves – A visitor attraction consisting of a network of man-made caves, carved out of sandstone, beneath the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. • Green's Windmill and Science Centre – A unique working windmill in the heart of the city that was home to the 19th-century mathematical physicist and miller, George Green. • Nottingham Castle Museum – Home to the city's fine and decorative art collections, along with the Story of Nottingham galleries, and the Sherwood Foresters Regimental Museum. • Nottingham Contemporary – Contemporary art centre in the Lace Market, opened in 2009. • New Art Exchange – Contemporary art gallery, the largest in the UK dedicated to showing diverse artists, opened in 2008. • Nottingham Industrial Museum – Housed in Wollaton Park, collections relating to textiles, transport, communications, mining and steam. • Nottingham Natural History Museum – Based at Wollaton Hall, contains zoology, geology, and botany collections. In 2015, the National Videogame Arcade was opened in the Hockley area of the city; being "the UK's first cultural centre for videogames". It was announced in June 2018 that the arcade was soon to close and relocate to Sheffield city centre, where it reopened in November 2018 as the National Videogame Museum. Nottingham has several large music and entertainment venues including the Royal Concert Hall, Rock City, Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (2,500-capacity) and the Nottingham Arena (Social centre). Nottingham's City Ground played host to rock band R.E.M with Idlewild and The Zutons supporting in 2005, the first time a concert had been staged at the football stadium. Nottingham also has a selection of smaller venues, including the Albert Hall (800-capacity), Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Malt Cross, Rescue Rooms, the Bodega, the Old Angel, the Central, the Chameleon and the Corner. 1960s Blues-rock band Ten Years After formed in Nottingham, as did the 1970s pop act Paper Lace and the critically acclaimed Tindersticks, as well as influential folk singer Anne Briggs. Since the beginning of the 2010s, the city has produced a number of artists to gain media attention, including; Jake Bugg, London Grammar, Indiana, Sleaford Mods, Natalie Duncan, Ady Suleiman, Dog Is Dead, Saint Raymond, Childhood, Rue Royale, Spotlight Kid and Amber Run. Wollaton Park in Nottingham hosts an annual family-friendly music event called Splendour. In 2009 it was headlined by Madness and the Pogues. The following year it was headlined by the Pet Shop Boys and featured, among others, Calvin Harris, Noisettes, Athlete and OK Go. In 2011, it featured headline acts Scissor Sisters, Blondie, Eliza Doolittle and Feeder. In 2012, performers included Dizzee Rascal, Razorlight, Katy B and Hard-Fi. In 2014, Wollaton Park hosted the first-ever No Tomorrow Festival, featuring the likes of Sam Smith, London Grammar and Clean Bandit. Nottingham holds several multicultural events throughout the year. The city has hosted an annual Asian Mela every summer since about 1989, there is a parade on St Patrick's Day, fireworks for the Chinese New Year, Holi in the Park to celebrate the Hindu spring festival, a West Indian-style carnival, and several Sikh events. The city is particularly famous for its annual Goose Fair, a large travelling funfair held at the Forest Recreation Ground at the beginning of October every year. Established over 700 years ago, the fair was originally a livestock market where thousands of geese were sold in the Old Market Square, but the modern-day Goose Fair is known for its fairground rides and attractions. There are more than three hundred restaurants in Nottingham, with several AA rosette winners (as of 2018). City-centre restaurant, Ibérico World Tapas, was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2013 Michelin Guide. There are also two Michelin-starred restaurants: Alchemilla in the city centre has one star; and Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms, on the edge of the city near Clifton Bridge, has two Michelin stars. There were five other Nottingham restaurants recommended in the Michelin Guide in 2020. The Robin Hood Pageant takes place in Nottingham each year and has been rebranded Robin Hood Live for 2020. The city is home to the Nottingham Robin Hood Society, founded in 1972 by Jim Lees and Steve and Ewa Theresa West. Sherwood Forest County Park is a Natural Nature Reserve spanning 450 acres in the county of Nottinghamshire only 17 miles north of Nottingham. This grand forest has been a part of great history for decades, showing evidence of use by prehistoric hunters and gatherers. It's even said that the legendary Robin Hood of the 1200s has set foot here and hid near the Major Oak, referred to as the 1000-year-old giant tree. Today, Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre & Nature Reserve is internationally recognised with annual visitors reaching around 350,000. Sports Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club play at Trent Bridge—a Test cricket venue, and was one of the venues for the 2009 ICC World Twenty20. Nottinghamshire won the 2010 County Championship The rugby union team, Nottingham R.F.C., compete in the RFU Championship, playing their home games in Lady Bay. The Nottingham Outlaws are an amateur rugby league club that play in the Yorkshire Men's League. The Nottingham Caesars are the city's American football club, playing their games at the Harvey Hadden Stadium in the Bilborough area of Nottingham. The city was the birthplace and training location for ice dancers Torvill and Dean, who won gold medals at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. The National Ice Centre, which first opened in 2000, hosts an array of winter sporting events, such as the UK Speed Skating Championships. Directly outside is "Bolero Square", named after the gold medal-winning performance. The Nottingham Panthers ice hockey team play in the same building at the Motorpoint Arena. Other sporting events in the city include the annual tennis Aegon Trophy (which is staged at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre), the Robin Hood Marathon, Milk Race, the Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride and the Outlaw Triathlon. Nottingham also has two Roller Derby leagues: Nottingham Roller Derby (which consists of two teams, the female-identifying team Nottingham Roller Girls and the open-to-all team Super Smash Brollers) and the female-identifying Nottingham Hellfire Harlots
There are two major National Health Service hospitals in Nottingham, the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) and Nottingham City Hospital, both managed by the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. The QMC is a teaching hospital with close connections to the Medical School at Nottingham University; until 2012, it was the largest hospital in the UK. Nottingham City Hospital includes maternity and neonatal facilities but has no A&E department. Students from the Medical School are attached to most of the departments at City Hospital as part of their clinical training.