The city of Nottingham, found in the East Midlands region of England, has a central marketplace which was first mentioned back in 1155, when it sat between a Norman and a Saxon settlement. Since then the city has continually expanded and changed, making old photos and film from the past century invaluable records of the past.
Nottingham is famous for the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham in the fictional tales of Robin Hood. Today it’s home to the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and a number of colleges. Nottingham Castle, set on the city centre cliffs of Castle Rock, and the underground caves are great visitor destinations.
Nottingham became a city in 1897 by charter of Queen Victoria, although it had long been the county town for Nottinghamshire. In 1928, the city was granted the right to have a Lord Mayor.
Nottingham is a modestly sized and culturally diverse city, with a population of just over 325,000 people. Because more than 60,000 students are included in this figure, it enjoys a student city reputation. When combined with nearby communities incorporated into Greater Nottingham, the population swells to over 700,000.
Unlike other parts of the UK, where people from a place with a regional accent are given an identity name which is recognised across the population (Manchester has Mancunians, Newcastle has Geordies, Birming has Brummies, etc), there is no well used and universally accepted phrase to call a person from Nottingham.
The original name for Nottingham was Snottingham. Snotta was a Saxon landowner, inga meant belonging to, and the ham was his village. In 868 AD the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions Snotengaham, while the 1086 Domesday Book calls it Snotingeham and Snotingham. Shortly after, the name started the gradual process of morphing into Nottingham.
Old Photos Of Nottingham
Paul Robert Swift created this photo montage of photos and illustrations of Nottingham in the old days.
Nottingham Before The Great War (WW1)
David Pearson uploaded this fascinating clip from “The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon”, a documentary series produced by the BBC in conjunction with the British Film Institute and broadcast in 2005. These scenes show Nottingam back in 1902, juxtaposed with the same streets just over a century later.
Nottingham In The 1920s
This video uploaded by HuntleyFilmArchives shows the last Nottingham Goose Fair to be held in the marketplace, in October 1927.
HuntleyFilmArchives. This footage shows crowds of people coming to watch the procession and ceremony marking the opening of University Park in 1928. The University of Nottingham was established through a gradual process from an adult education school in 1798, to University status by Royal Charter in 1948. At the time this film was made, the institution was a University College, with students prepared for examinations set by the University of London. A significant expansion led to an endowment fund, public contributions, and the generosity of Sir Jesse Boot (later Lord Trent) funding the creation of a new campus. Whilst the city centre premises were retained, University Park now became the centre of academic life.
Watch the Lord Mayor of Nottingham struggling in and out of a de Havilland Moth open biplane in his full regalia. The city gained the right to have a Lord Mayor in 1928. He flew to London to get a charter for the new Nottingham Aerodrome. Nottingham (Tollerton) Airport was opened in 1930 for civilian aviation. During the Second World War, the airport was known as RAF Tollerton.
Nottingham In The 1940s
A British Pathé film showing Nottingham’s busy goose fair in 1947.
Slab Square In The 1950s
This glimpse of Old Market Square was made in 1951 by Members of the Nottingham and District Film Society, as part of Nottingham’s Festival of Britain celebrations. “Nearly 25 years had elapsed since the great civic upheaval that saw the city’s centuries-old market and annual Goose Fair ousted from the square for a new and imposing Council House. Since then ‘meeting by the left lion’ (the most favoured of the Joseph Else-designed sculptures) has started many a Nottingham night-out or relationship.” Hundreds of people are shown throughout the various scenes. The narrative is highly informative.
Nottingham In The 1960s
On YouTube channel studio2televisionextra. This 1969 documentary about the slums of St Ann’s in Nottingham was broadcast in 1993, with an introduction by Ray Gosling. St Ann’s had 10,000 small, Victorian homes which were not well maintained or updated. It was an era where old buildings were pulled down. The council-owned houses are damp, overcrowded and without bathrooms. Children and pensioners are seen doing lacework in cold conditions. There are many insightful comments below the video, showing that the local families typically lived decent lives once rehoused.
Pastie Brown inherited her Uncle Bill Brown’s 8mm cine films and has digitised some of them.
LeandrosBoll uploaded two clips from 1967-1970, showing the old Post Office in Carlton Square being demolished and later the new council offices and shopping precinct being built.
Nottingham In The 1970s
The first Nottingham Festival, shot in 1970 with stardard 8mm film. Includes views of Slab square, Playhouse, Nottingham castle, The Forest and Wollaton Park, and blue space hoppers. Music and sound effects have been added by YouTube channel Nottingham Past.
Adrian Todd NCN donated his cine film of the 1970 Notts Festival to the Past Lives Project, which is an Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Funded Project working across 8 areas of the Midlands to digitise old home movies.
YouTube channel bonearrowgroup uploaded a colour video from 1972, showing various locations and members of the public on the streets of Nottingham City Centre
- Old Market Square
- Victoria Centre
- Towards the Meadows from the Castle
- Victoria Clock Tower
- Flats under construction.
Uploaded by D. Jack, this 1970s Persil advert features women from 4 Priory Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham. According to Zoopla in January 2020 “The average house price in Priory Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 is £656,080.”
Nottingham In The 1980s
Paul Robert Swift created a video montage of 1980s photographs of the former Nottingham Children’s Hospital, Forest House. “This Building was the former home of Thomas Isaac Birkin of Ruddington Grange who gave his former home to be opened as a children’s hospital on the 27 March 1901. The Children’s Hospital, Forest House closed in January of 1979 when it moved to the University Hospital, Queens Medical Centre on Derby Road.”
A silent film uploaded by YouTube channel bonearrowgroup. It shows both street scenes and aerial views, so you get to glimpse the city structure, people and shops. It’s just before Christmas 1986, and decorations abound.
YouTube channel ThamesTv uploaded clips taken of Nottingham from the Thames Televisions ‘Witness’ series. It was first broadcast 17 January 1988.
The City In The 1990s
From the DaveSpencer32 collection, available to buy on DVD. A good number of pedestrians shown.
YouTube channel CMS uploaded footage from 1996, of a drive through Bakersfield, Nottingham.
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Thanks to Steve Harvey for use of the image shown at the top of this page.