Bygone Shops and Shopping in Nottingham
On Monday November 13th the latest of the Heritage Group`s Open Meetings was held at the Old School in Cropwell Bishop.
The well -known local speaker, Chris Weir, was invited to address members and visitors on the subject of “Bygone Shops and Shopping in Nottingham”. This was a subject which had gained a popular vote at the members AGM, and Chris certainly did not disappoint.
He began his presentation by displaying a street map of Nottingham published in 1610 by the famous mapmaker John Speed.
It was surprising just how many street names survive to this day, and this allowed Chris to point out that in the earliest times Nottingham was a divided city.
There were essentially two boroughs, Norman and Anglo-Saxon. The Norman trading centre was based on what is now the Market Square, while the Anglo-Saxon market was situated around Weekday Cross.
Over several centuries, this division has disappeared with shops and shopping centres developing in line with the growth of the city and according to the needs of the shopping public. Still the Market Square area remains a popular place for the bigger stores, and in the 18th and 19th centuries a great deal of trade was carried out there. Our speaker produced the facts and figures which illustrated this.
The month of October was a particularly busy time, not only because of Goose Fair, but because farmers and other traders from outlying villages brought in their goods and livestock for sale.
Sheep were driven in along what was then `Sheep Street`, while cattle came in via `Cow Lane`! As still remains the case today, food prices were of great concern, and it was recorded in 1766 that there was a Cheese Riot, which by all accounts was a very bloodthirsty affair! Octobers in those days also did not pass without a big increase in crime in these crowded areas.
From about the 1850`s shops and shopping began to develop in a way more in line with changing needs of society. So, for example, a certain Mr. Jessop, (first name Zebedee!), had the famous Nottingham architect Watson Fothergill design and build him a large store on King Street.
Other big stores followed. A large store, Dickinsons, built in 1846, was then bought out by the Store Manager, Mr. Griffin and the Lace Buyer, Mr. Spalding to form probably the best known store in the Market Square, now occupied by Debenhams.
Chris Weir then went on to outline the stories behind a number of names which marked the beginning of modern shops and shopping in Nottingham.
- Burtons (closed in 1983)
- Beecrofts (opened in1890)
- Lewis & Grundy
- Sisson & Parker
- Mikado Café
- Pearsons (1889)
- Redmayne & Todd
- Shaw & Shrewsbury
- Wilkinsons (Wilko`s)
- Woolworths (closed in 2008)
And many others.
Not to be forgotten, of course, are some of the names which originated in Nottingham and then gained national and international status. Boots, which began as a small chemist`s shop in Hockley, now has worldwide status in both retail and medicinal research areas. Players, (now recently closed), boosted its cigarette sales dramatically by the use of a brand name -`Navy Cut`- while Raleigh followed a different path by its support of well-known cycling stars such as Reg Harris and Beryl Burton.
What of the future? Chris Weir ended his talk by showing a photograph of the beginning of the demolition of Broadmarsh Centre. No doubt what will follow will mark a further step forward in shops and shopping in Nottingham.