Sunday, 24 August 2008

More than shadows on an urban landscape

When Susan and I moved to Lenton in 1980 we spent a fair amount of time exploring the area. Looking back, I wish I had taken more photographs and made notes, but we didn't. Thankfully, Steve Zaleski and Lenton Local History Society were making a record of what Lenton looked like. Thanks to them and others, Lenton's historic landscape has been preserved in pictures, probably better than any other comparable community in Nottinghamshire. Much of the Lenton we discovered in 1980 has disappeared without a trace and when I look at pictures on the Lenton Times website (www.lentontimes.co.uk), I simply cannot remember what once I must have seen.

Just occasionally, the past that was no more than a shadow lurking in some corner of my mind, is still tangible. This is certainly true for the section of the Nottingham Canal which used to run from Old Lenton towards Wollaton and beyond.

This weekend I saw two reminders of the Nottingham Canal. This is a small 'green' space which has recently been created at the junction of Derby Road and Hillside in Old Lenton. The old canal bridge is clearly visible from the Derby Road and thousands of people must pass it by every day without realising its historic significance. The space looks much better than it did, so full marks to whoever came up with the idea of making it look better and then finding the money. I hope it will be looked after.

If you go to have a look, there is an information board in place, which gives a brief history of the Nottingham Canal and what could be seen from the Derby Road. Outside Lenton Lodge, on the north side of Derby Road, there was a canal lock and a basin, which is now the wooded area to the right of the footpath from the Lodge to Charnock Avenue and the Jubilee Campus.

Earlier on Saturday Susan and I had taken some friends from Stoke on a walk around Martin's Pond and Harrison's Plantation in Wollaton, then walked along the Old Coach Road to Lambourne Drive to see another section of this part of the Nottingham Canal, which has recently been recovered after being buried by undergrowth for decades. As at Hillside in Old Lenton, there is an information board for walkers to read. This picture of the old canal basin was taken from Lambourne Drive looking east. Beyond is the remains of a lock, so I assume the basin provided a passing point for barges, as they waited to go down the canal towards Old Lenton and Nottingham or Beeston.

This picture shows the canal beyond the basin and what looks like the entrance to a second lock, which remains filled in with earth. I don't know if there are any plans to dig it out. I suspect to have an empty, abandoned, lock would be too much of a risk from a safety point of view.
As we walked beside the long abandoned canal we came across this group of stones, perhaps from the lock structure. As random as they are, I feel that that they have an artistic quality and make a statement about the world that used to be here in a part of Wollaton, now surrounded by modern middle-class housing, all so comfortable. The canal is a lifetime and an age away from where they walk their dogs or take an afternoon stroll, before heading home for tea. I hope a few of those who pass by think and wonder about the world that was and here, at least, is more than a shadow on the landscape.

If you're not up to the walk, Nottingham City Transport bus 193 (Victoria Centre—Beeston) runs along Lambourne Drive every 60 minutes during the daytime, Monday–Saturday.

The government is poised to radically expand the academies programme to include children as young as four by announcing that it has given the go-ahead for an academy in County Durham to take over three struggling local primary schools.

1 comment:

Paul Pursglove said...

It is good to see pictures on your blog of the canal basin, especially since I was there when you took them. Check out distant thoughts for Harrison's Plantation.