Some smaller heritage organisations in Nottingham that you might not have heard of:
Nottingham, home base for Culture Syndicates in the heart of the East Midlands, is a cultural hub full to bursting with heritage organisations of all sizes. While you’ve probably heard of Nottingham Castle and Nottingham Contemporary, there are plenty of smaller heritage destinations that could have passed you by – here are a few of Nottingham’s hidden gems!
Based in Sneinton, just East of Nottingham city centre, Green’s Mill was built in 1807 by Nottingham baker Mr Green, and was the largest and most powerful windmill in the local area. Mr Green’s son, George, taught himself maths and science, and in 1828 published a revolutionary work on using mathematics to understand electricity and magnetism. He went on to become one of the preeminent scientists of the 18th century, and is the namesake of the University of Nottingham’s science library! His childhood home has since become a museum to both his and his father’s achievements, and if you time your visit right you might even get to see the sails turning, and be able to buy some of their award-winning flour!
Established in 1977, City Arts has been a long-standing member of the Nottingham arts scene. When first founded in Hyson Green, they offered local communities access to artistic facilities like screen printing equipment and photography dark rooms. Now based in Hockley, their work develops arts opportunities that benefit the local community, through workshops, exhibitions and arts groups, and aims to enrich and transform people’s lives through art. In recent years they have created an inclusive and accessible troupe for the Nottingham Carnival, produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the Cerebral Palsy World Games, and have taken art and artists into Nottingham Care Homes. Keep an eye on their website to find out more about workshops they have lined up!
William Booth Birthplace Museum:
Born in Nottingham in 1829, William Booth and his wife Mary earned their place in history through their founding of The Christian Mission, now better known as the Salvation Army. Booth was born to a poor family, but after a conversion experience aged 15 he started preaching in the streets of Nottingham, before founding the Salvation Army in 1865. Dedicated to telling the story of Booth and his family, the William Booth Birthplace Museum tells the story of how Booth’s upbringing and family played a role in the formation of the Salvation Army. Hidden away in Sneinton, the Museum only opens by appointment, but is well worth a visit!
Framework Knitters Museum:
Though technically outside of Nottingham, we’re including this because it’s such a lovely museum! The Framework Knitters Museum is a unique surviving example of a 19th century framework knitters’ yard, and is a working museum, which means that you can see the original knitting frames in action when you visit! Knitting frames were invented in 1589, and by the early 1800s there were around 10,000 frames in Nottinghamshire alone. Framework knitters had to rent the frames from the owner, and buy all their own materials, making it a dangerous and risky job. Thankfully, visiting the Museum now is far more pleasant, and definitely worth a visit!
As an added bonus, if you fancy looking at some amazing lacework, check out the lace archive at Debbie Bryan’s shop and tearoom in the Lace Market, where they have a variety of archival materials on display as well as a sample book of Nottingham lace patterns.
Canalside Heritage Centre:
Established in 2010 and opened in June 2017, the Canalside Heritage Centre was created with the aim of creating a new community facility in the workers cottages that sit alongside the Beeston Lock, close to Beeston Rylands. What were once bedrooms and kitchens have since been transformed in exhibition spaces documenting the history of the Rylands and its waterway, exhibitions spaces for local artwork and photography, and a new café. The Centre has come on in leaps and bounds since its establishment eight years ago, and is now one of the best small museums that Nottingham has to offer. They have an impressive program of outreach activities, including Weir-side yoga and life-drawing classes.
So, as you can see, Nottingham has plenty of hidden heritage gems both in the city centre and in the surrounding area – be sure to check them out if you’re looking for a pleasant day out! What underappreciated museums or galleries does your local city have that more people need to know about?
By Ellen Smithies