Thursday, 13 November 2014

Blog on hold until 1 December...

... whilst Susan and I move house.


PS. In the meantime an event not to be missed if you are free. Susan and I will have to miss Pauline Lucas I am sorry to say because we are moving.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Small Pinboard #3

As I prepare to leave Lenton I am aware that since starting this blog in February 2007 I have taken a lot of photographs of 'Lenton Faces' and a good few before. The next one will be of Lenton Recreation Ground pics, but these are a few which always come to mind when I think of the photographs I have taken. I like them all for different reasons.

No.1 is of Matthew Butcher, taken on the day of the 2010 General Election outside The Lenton Centre, where Matthew, the Green Party candidate, spent most of the day from 7am until 10pm with either Susan or me, who were there taking polling numbers for the Labour Party. I liked Matthew a lot. Always good company and a model student in every sense, active in the local community — which is how I got to know him. As I mentioned in a recent posting about the Green Party, poor Matthew lost heavily. Susan and I both voted for Lilian Greenwood, the Labour Party candidate and I have taken numbers at polling stations in election days for the Labour Party since I was a teenager and will volunteer to do so in Beeston, even though I let my Party membership lapse last year. Susan still has her card, so I am sure we will get to know local activists. In the photograph Matthew is minding a voter's dog.

No.2 is from 1994 and our first campaign to save Lenton's swimming pool. We were successful, but there were two more attempts to close the pool before Nottingham City Council finally sold Lenton Community Association the building for £10 in 2005. The pool re-opened in 2008 and I am very proud to have played an active part in all the campaigns to save the building, along with many others in Lenton, including our ward Labour Party councillors.

No.3 is a cropped version of a larger photograph I entitled 'Three ladies with large brassicas'. What you cannot see are the large cauliflowers they are holding. I took the photographs at The Lenton Centre back in the days when the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum ran a veggie box scheme. The lady in the middle is Lesley Fyffe, a community stalwart of the first order and very active at the Dunkirk & Old Lenton Community Centre by Dunkirk Flyover and a founder member of the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum. A good friend who will be one of our first guests to lunch when we have moved to Beeston.

No.4 is of Mr and Mrs Ferdi, who were close neighbours until last winter, when they went to live with their daughter. They were both originally from the Ukraine and made their way to England after the Second World War. They were a gentle couple, always ready for a chat. I will always remember them.

No.5 dates from 2007 and was taken at one on my 'Tea in the park' Sundays, something I did for a good few years once a month during the summer. These three teenagers were from Wollaton and they so reminded me of my own late-teenage days. I had similar moments myself in the company of lovely young ladies and it remains a photograph full of happy memories of my 'Tea in the park' afternoons. 'The park' by the way was Lenton Recreation Ground and held in the park pavilion, which the City Council allowed me to use free-of-charge.

No.6 is a photograph I took of local resident Shirley at the front door to her council flat above the Church Square shops in Lenton. Another community activist who was always good company.

No.7 shows Mairi Yuill at her desk in The Lenton Centre, where she still sits every week, now in her nineties, doing the Centre's day-to-day accounts. Before that she was a founder member of Lenton Community Association and always an officer until in 2006 it became The Lenton Centre, when she became a board member. When Susan and I arrived in Lenton and started going to Labour Party meetings she quickly recruited us as volunteers to help in the then Lenton Community Centre and from 1981–85 we were Labour Party county councillors together, both of us having previously been city councillors (Mairi in Nottingham, me in Birmingham). She helped found the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum and, over the years, we worked on many projects together. By any measure, Mairi is a community hero and I am so lucky to know her.

Leaving Lenton is a bagful of mixed emotions, but I am now looking forward to Beeston. I have never been a person to look back. I believe you have to be active where you are.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Nottingham Uni migrates to Beeston just as I complete my extended map

On the Noticeboard page of today's Nottingham Post, under 'What's On' there is an entry for Beeston which reads 'The University of Nottingham is hosting a Christmas cake and craft sale… on C Floor of the Portland Building next to the juice bar'.

On Saturday I posted a section of a City of Nottingham map dated 1914 showing the present-day area covered by the main campus of the University and making the point that seven of the large houses marked on the map include the place name 'Lenton' in their title. In 1914 this was very much the up-market end of Lenton.

To this day, the main campus remains in the City of Nottingham and is still part of historic Lenton, but this migration of the University's location by the Post to Beeston comes not far behind another claim by a Beestonian to make the campus part of Beeston.

I lift the following from the 3 October 2014 post to the Beestonia blog headed 'Oxjam – Two Week Klaxon':

We have also partnered this year with the University, who will be running an event called ‘THIS IS BEESTON!’ at Bartons throughout the day. This is an attempt to further bonds between town and gown, by showing students what we can offer them on the other side of the West Entrance. What better day to do this than at Oxjam? We’re dead lucky having a campus next door, it’s existence does a great deal to keep Beeston special, and not just a forgotten bit of urban sprawl outside the city. I even got a wife out of it. Let’s make this relationship even stronger.

Reading these words by Matt Goold at the time prompted me to start work on creating a 'eastward' extension of my Beeston Tram Map, which is not far from completion. My plan is to have it ready for not long after Susan and I have moved to Beeston in less than two weeks time (yes, that close after nearly a year!), so here is a sneak preview.

The next time you see this it will be part of a Beeston Tram Map running from Cator Lane in the west to the QMC in the east, or, as I intend to bill it, from Chilwell's Barton Gallery to the Lakeside Arts Centre and onto Nottingham Contemporary and the New Art Exchange in Hyson Green and all with The Tram passing by.

Having spent the last thirty-five years in Lenton (half my life) and thirty of them watching the University grow unchecked I do not share all of Matt's enthusiasm for the benefits the University brings. I will be leaving a street where just three out of twenty-three houses are not  owned by private landlords and occupied by students, nor do any of these properties pay council tax.

The University has blighted Lenton with the blessing of Nottingham City Council, Very belatedly the City Council is attempting to do something to protect other parts of the city, but it made selling our house very difficult and a traumatic experience. I do not wish on a single Beeston street the fate which has befallen every street in Lenton, so Matt, be careful of what you wish for!

Once in Beeston, this is a debate I intend to take part in and I will actively support those who want percentage limits on the number of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in any one street. My first question to Broxtowe Borough Council will be 'How many properties in the borough, and the number per street, are exempt from Council Tax because they are occupied by students from 2010–2011 to 2014–2015?' Hopefully, this is a question they will already know the answer to, as others will have already asked it.

I am not anti-student or University. Far from it, but if Beeston is to remain special, then it has to avoid becoming a young mono-culture. We shall see, but as my Tram map extension shows I do agree that Beeston can benefit from a relationship with Nottingham University, providing it does not allow itself to be seduced by them.

With restrictions now in place within the city, private landlords, the University and students will be licking their lips at the prospect of devouring an unsuspecting Beeston. You have been warned by one who knows!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Nottingham 1914 map

I recently purchased a booklet, The City of Nottingham — Past, Present and Future: Its special advantages as a commercial centre and as a place of residence, 'Officially issued by the Corporation', which included several maps, one of which I reproduce here, albeit much reduced in size, together with three enlarged sections. I have had the map scanned at 600dpi (creating a 717MB tiff file, as I could not get a svg file version made) and have since created a 72dpi copy for the web, which you can see below:

I have also copied the title and sections showing part of Bulwell and that part of Lenton which is now better known as the main campus of Nottingham University:

At some point I may will do more with the map. In the meantime I have had a copy made which I will take along the next Angel History Forum in Nottingham Central Library on Thursday 11 December 2014.

For the record, the map shows seven houses on what is the present-day university campus including 'Lenton' in their name: Lenton Abbey; Lenton Fields; Lenton Firs; Lenton Grove; Lenton Hall; Lenton House and Lenton Hurst.