Dada Masilo

Can You Spot The Difference Between These Photos of Nottingham?

10 December 18 words: LeftLion

Oh, how Nottingham has changed over the years. We’ve gone from an industrial mining town full of factories and goose flogging, to a city crammed full of restaurants, call centres, arty shops, and one proper cool magazine. For a fun game of spot the difference, here are a few modern-day shots, alongside some found in John Henry Spree’s Nottinghamshire: a book of photos from around 1910, up to around 1930, put together by the photographer’s great grandson Alan Spree…

photo: John Spree

photo: Tom Quigley

River Trent

Did yer know that the Trent had a thriving salmon fishery in the late 1880s, with an average of 3,000 salmon caught yearly? A decade later, the number was closer to 100 because of human population growth and the introduction of a basic sewage system, with waste being dumped into nearby brooks and killing the salmon. Recently, with better-managed pollution, our fishy friends are being reintroduced to the waters.

photo: John Spree

photo: Tom Quigley

Lower Parliament Street

Did yer know that the building now known as Pryzm was originally established in 1925 as the ornate, modernist Palais de Danse? A dancehall host to jazz orchestras and an art-deco-style interior, in the eighties it was refurbed as Ritzy, with the illuminated globe replaced and the large fountain in the centre of the hall removed. It was then renamed as Oceana, and eventually Pryzm in recent years. Both nightclubs, both still filled with boozy people dancing the night away.

photo: John Spree (courtesy of Picture the Past and Nottingham City Council)

photo: Tom Quigley

Highfields Boating Lake

Did yer know that the lake was originally a mere fish pond? Owd Jesse Boot bought Highfields Estate in 1920, and did it all up for the university folk. In 1931, the Nottingham Model Yacht Club formed, who you can still clock most Sunday mornings, sailing their mini boats away. These days, with the development of small engines and radio controls, the group’s now known as the Nottingham Model Boat Club, and can sometimes be found doing their thing at Colwick Park.

photo: John Spree (courtesy of Picture the Past and Nottingham City Council)

photo: Tom Quigley

Nottingham Canal

Did yer know that the local waterways were once used to cart about coal, gravel, manure and general merch? In 1861, they were taken over by Great Northern Railway, who didn’t seem to give a bob about maintenance, so commercial traffic stopped in 1928. In 1936, Great Northern leased a section (from Lenton to Trent Lock) to the Trent Navigation Company, before selling it to them in 1946. After nationalisation, the canal went to British Waterways; these days it’s managed by the Canal & River Trust and carries pootling, Boaty-McBoat folk.

photo: John Spree

photo: Tom Quigley

Old Market Square

Did yer know that the bell living inside Nottingham Council House’s bonce has the nickname of “Little John”? He emits the deepest tone of any non-swinging clock bell in the United Kingdom, with his looming, E-flat dings heard up to seven miles away if your tabs are without cloth. The city hall that replaced the Nottingham Exchange building in 1927 is the one we see standing today, hosting our Lil J up top. At ten tonnes, he’s the fifth heaviest bogger of his kind in the country.
Left image courtesy of Alan Spree


John Henry Spree’s Nottinghamshire by Alan Spree is available for £14.99 from Amberley Publishing.

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