I am an experienced urban walker who has been publishing walks and leading them for a good few years. In three weeks I will lead my last ever Lenton history walk, for when we move my interests will be elsewhere. It may seem an odd thing for a person with a passion for local history to say, but I only look back so that I can see the future more clearly.
Chris Matthews's TravelRight history walk around parts of Bilborough and Strelley on 19 April was a perfect example of this. Once we could fly and we still can. We are peddled lies as truths, and far too many believe the bankers and politicians who try to deny us a future of our own making. More of this later. Now, let us begin...
1. Bilborough Library, off Bracebridge Drive by the shops is where we gathered for our walk.
How different to Aspley Library where we had started the previous week's walk.
Brutalist and ugly. A fortress in looks. but a palace to learning inside, even though the lobby was cold and stark. Bilborough deserves better.
As you can see, we were a motley bunch, affable and eager to be off.
The houses were erected very quickly sixty–seventy years ago and whilst many are now in a poor state of repair, others have been cared for and cherished.
The Tory policy of allowing council tenants to buy their homes (and not stopped by Labour once in power) was, for the most part, a bad thing, but looking at these houses, you can see that the policy probably saved these houses from demolition.
Below is an advert I found in a 1954 Nottingham street directory and map.
I doubt if present-day Nottingham Planners would have the same eye for detail. They seem to know little of Nottingham beyond the City Centre.
It has been one of my favourite views since c1983 when the 35 bus started and I began using it to travel regularly between Lenton and Cinderhill (a story for another day).
I am not a religious person, but there have a pleasing appearance and texture.
The last couple of occasions Malcolm and I have had a chat has been on a 35 bus, so I hope he is going to make the History from a 35 Bus Day on 24 May, which I am leading for TravelRight.
I hope Wendy and Marcia will be there too.
The chapel extension to the left end was, for a while, used for church services.
Avoncroft Museum of Buildings in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, a place I know quite well for a number of reasons and have watched it grow ever larger as more and more historic buildings have found a new home at Avoncroft.
I suspect for many a prefab is the preferred choice, because they are detached.
This photograph shows one in the process of being clad to improve insulation and to extend its life for a good few years yet.
Chris Matthews's leaflet for TravelRight, a Walking & Cycling Guide (to) Beechdale, Bilborough & Strelley, has a section devoted to pre-fabrication. Well worth getting hold of a copy if you don't have one already.
Which one do you prefer? The one on the left or the one on the right?
I am in no doubt that the appearance of buildings in our townscape do impact on our social behaviour. Architects and planners rarely conduct their experiments in social engineering in middle-class suburbia or rural commuter land. I want to like it. Perhaps I will.
Local history is really old news — hence my belief that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Soon the 35 will have double-deckers again.
A fine Council building from a time when we had the confidence and vision to fly. Nothing was too good for the working class under Labour from the 1930s–1960s, then the Party got cold feet and reformist leaders. Nottingham folk still believe we can fly. There is hope yet.
10. The beginning of Strelley Lane, off the west side of Bilborough Road, heading north towards Strelley Village, yards away from a 35 bus stop and countryside all around.
Beyond, only three of Lenton's high-rise blocks of flats remain. Two have gone in the past year. All will be gone this time next year.
Beyond, hidden from view, is the Trent with a hint of the Vale of Belvoir beyond.
The Church Guide says it 'probably dates from the mid-12th century' and is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, which does have an entry for Strelley. The Saxons who lived here 'more likely worshipped outside at a stone cross, the base of which still stands in the garden of Fountains Cottage in the village'.
Truly wonderful and notice they are holding hands. This alone makes All Saints Church a national treasure. A must visit church within a few minutes walk of a 35 bus stop.
Perhaps some time in the future there will be an archaeological dig to find out just how old the site is.
In the middle of the photograph, just in front of a lone, dark foliaged, tree is a depression. It is the remains of a bell bid, from which coal was taken until it was no longer safe to do so, then another pit would be dug.
The walk had been lively and full of chatter — always the sign of a good walk — but legs were tired and folk were feeling hungry and, as I well know, the Broad Oak does great fish and chips. Need I say more.
Well done Chris, another great walk and thanks to TravelRight for their support and encouragement.
I then walked along Main Street towards…
This is one of my favourite little parks and I love its copse. How I wish there was one in Lenton Recreation Ground.
Perhaps I should offer myself as a personal 35 history guide to tourists visiting Nottingham. Now, there's a thought…