1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nottingham

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NOTTINGHAM, a city and county of a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, and county town of Nottinghamshire, England. Pop. (1901) 239,743. It stands on the left (north) bank of the Trent and its tributary the Leen. It is 125 m. N.N.W. from London by the Midland railway, and is also served by the Great Central and Great Northern railways. Water communications are afforded by the Grantham canal eastward, by the Nottingham and Erewash canals westward, communicating with the Cromford canal in Derbyshire, and by the Trent. The plan of the town is irregular, and the main thoroughfares are generally modern in appearance, many of the old narrow streets having been wholly altered or renewed. About the centre of the town is an open market-place some 5 1/2 acres in area, said to be the largest of its kind in England. Nottingham Castle occupies a fine site to the S., on an abrupt rocky hill. The ancient remains are not large, including only a restored Norman gateway and fragments of the fortifications. In 1878 the site was acquired on lease by the corporation, and the building was opened as the Nottingham and Midland Counties Art Museum. The church of St Mary is a fine Perpendicular cruciform structure, with a central tower. St Peter’s church is mainly Perpendicular, but shows traces of an earlier building. St Nicholas' church, near the castle, is a plain building of brick dating from 1676. There are several handsome modern churches, among which is the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Barnabas, from the designs of A. W. Pugin, erected in 1842–1844. There are a large number of Nonconformist places of worship. The principal secular buildings are the guildhall and city sessions court (1887), the shire hall, the Albert Hall and the Exchange; there are two principal theatres, the Theatre Royal and the Empire Theatre. Among educational establishments the principal is University College, for which a fine range of buildings was opened in 1881, containing the free municipal library and the museum of natural history. The free grammar school, founded in 1513, for some time in disuse, was revived in 1807, and on its removal in 1868 to new buildings, became known as the High School. There are also the Nottingham High School for girls; the blue-coat school, founded in 1723; the People’s College, founded in 1846; two technical schools; the Congregational Institute; and the Nottingham school of art, for which a fine building was erected in 1865 in the Italian style. The Midland Baptist college was transferred from Chilwell to Nottingham in 1882.

The General Hospital was founded in 1781, and there are the Nottingham and Midland eye infirmary, the county asylum and the Midland institution for the blind. The Arboretum and the Forest are the principal public pleasure-grounds; the county cricket club plays matches on the Trent Bridge ground, and there is a racecourse at Colwick, E. of the city. To the N.W., but within the city boundaries, are the industrial districts of Radford and Basford, beyond which lies Bulwell, with collieries, limestone quarries and earthenware manufactures. Bestwood Park, in the vicinity, contained a hunting lodge of Henry I., being included in Sherwood Forest. To the N., Sherwood is a growing residential district; another extends towards Gedling on the E. Southward, across the Trent, West Bridgford is another large residential suburb. To the W. is Lenton, and Beeston has become a populous suburb mainly owing to the establishment of large cycle and motor works.

Nottingham itself became an important seat of the stocking trade towards the close of the 18th century. It was here that Richard Arkwright in 1769 erected his first spinning frame, and here also James Hargreaves had the year previously removed with his spinning jenny after his machine had been destroyed by a mob at Blackburn. Nottingham has devoted itself chiefly to cotton, silk and merino hosiery. Up to 1815 point lace was also an important manufacture. In 1808 and 1809 John Heathcoat obtained patents for machines for making bobbin net, which inaugurated a new era in the lace manufacture. The industries also include bleaching, the dyeing, spinning and twisting of silk, the spinning of cotton and woollen yarn, tanning, engineering and brewing, while cycle works and tobacco factories are important, and the industries have the advantage of the close proximity of coal-mines. Besides the general market there is a large cattle market.

Nottingham received its style of a city and county of a city by letters patent of the 7th of August 1897. The parliamentary borough returns three members to parliament, being divided into W., E. and S. divisions. The city is governed by a mayor, 16 aldermen and 48 councillors. Area, 10,935 acres.

History.—The advantageous position of Nottingham (Snotengaham, Notingeham) on the Trent, where it was crossed by an ancient highway, accounts for its origin, whether in Roman or Saxon times. The Saxon form of the name is taken to refer to the caves, anciently used as dwelling-places, which were hollowed out of the soft sandstone. Examples of these occur in the Castle rock, in the Rock Holes W. of the castle, in the suburb of Sneinton and elsewhere. It was chosen by the Danes for their winter quarters in 868, and constituted one of their five burghs. In 922 it was secured and fortified by Edward the Elder, who in 924 built a second “burgh” opposite the first and connected with it by a bridge over the river. Æthelstan, the successor of Edward the Elder, established there a royal mint. In 1013 the town submitted to Sweyn. William I. erected a castle, and mention of a new borough occurs in Domesday Book, and this seems to be the first evidence of the existence of the “French borough” which grew up in Nottingham under the Normans, and was distinguished from the English borough by the different customs which prevailed in it. Parliaments were held at Nottingham in 1334, 1337 and 1357, and it was the scene of the conference of the judges with Richard II. in August 1387. Several important persons have been imprisoned in the castle, among others David II. of Scotland. Edward IV. assembled his troops at Nottingham in 1461; and it was the headquarters of Richard III. before the battle of Bosworth in 1485. In 1642 Charles I. finally broke with the Parliament by setting up his standard at Nottingham, and during the ensuing Civil War the castle was held by each of the two parties more than once. In 1644 it was dismantled by Cromwell’s orders.

Henry II. granted the first extant charter, which confirmed to the burgesses the liberties they had under Henry I., referred to a market on Saturdays, and forbade the working of dyed cloth, except in Nottingham, within ten leagues of the borough. This was confirmed by John, who also granted a gild-merchant. Henry III. allowed the burgesses to hold the town in fee-farm, and Edward I. granted them a mayor and two bailiffs, one to be chosen from each borough. Henry VI. confirmed all preceding privileges, first incorporated the mayor and burgesses, and granted that the town, except the castle and the gaol, should be a county of itself. Two sheriffs were to replace the two bailiffs. This charter remained, except for temporary surrenders under Charles II. and James II., the governing charter of the corporation until the Municipal Act of 1835. Nottingham returned two members to parliament from 1295 until 1885, when the number was increased to three. Edward I. granted an eight days’ fair in September and a fifteen-days’ fair in November, the last altered by Richard II. to a five-days’ fair in February. Two other fairs were granted by Anne; one large fair, Goose Fair, is still held. This begins on the first Thursday in October and lasts three days. The markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays are held by prescriptive right. Besides the Reform riots of 1831, Nottingham witnessed in 1811 the Luddite disturbances. In 1870 Nottingham was made the seat of a suffragan bishop of the diocese of Lincoln, but as it is now in the diocese of Southwell there is no suffragan bishopric.