Most of my immediate family are from Nottingham; I was born there & also went to Nottingham Trent University. So I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, most recently visiting the Archives and Angel Row library for genealogy research. I’m proud of being from Nottingham & I love learning about the history associated with this city.
So I was very sad when I discovered the museum I volunteered at for a while, Brewhouse Yard
, is closed to the public, with the exception of group visits and special events.*
My children were also sad to hear of this; they have happy memories of story-telling in the cellar at Halloween, looking round the ‘shops’ and being told off for being left-handed in the school-room! I have a family link to this too, as my Great-Grandfather worked in the stores when it was the Water Board offices and was offered one of the houses, which he turned down.
Nottingham is also famous for its lace, but there is no lace museum. The Lace Centre based at the Severns building opposite the castle closed in 2009; the related costume museum closed a couple of years previously. There’s an article here
with more detail. I can remember going to the re-opening of the building after it had been moved from Broad Marsh. At the time it was considered an asset of great importance to the city.
Not only has Severns closed, the council have put it up for sale along with the entire run of listed buildings 43 to 59 Castle Gate, which are a mixture of medieval, Georgian and Stuart architecture and used to house the costume museum.
I realise that in the middle of a recession, spending money on old buildings is not a top priority on the councils ‘to-do’ list, but while these buildings stand empty they are gradually deteriorating – Severn’s gutters are full of weeds – and they are not replaceable.
The tourist industry is worth £115.4bn a year in Britain; Visit Britain
calculates that the number of jobs tourism supports is forecast to increase by 250,000 between 2010 and 2020, from 2.645 million to 2.899 million. Genealogy tourism is on the increase, but for the descendants of Nottingham lace makers there is nothing left to tempt them into the city. Giving tourists a reason to visit, stay and spend money could increase jobs in the city. So why is Nottingham City Council closing down its tourist attractions and not looking after its heritage? It’s a short-sighted attitude which could mean there is much to regret in the future.
*since writing this, Brewhouse Yard has re-opened on Saturdays & Sundays.