Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bilborough 35 History Bus Day less than a week away.

All aboard for a special Bilborough day. Ding ding!

This post is still a work in progress. It should be finished by 8 July 

Welcome to a unique post, based on Nottingham City Transport's 35 bus route between Bulwell and Nottingham City Centre, using maps copied from a Burrow's Pointer Guide Map of Nottingham c.1960, which you can find on the Notts History website created and managed by Andy Nicholson.

The blog has been created to accompany a one-off day organised by St Martin's Church, Bilborough, and generously supported by Nottingham City Transport.

The 35 bus route could fairly be designated Nottingham's 'Heritage Bus Route', for it takes you on a ride through history to a string of 'pre-conquest' communities, all with entries in the Domesday Book of 1086, which is a unique record of who owned what in William the Conquerer's England. Look through its pages and you will find place names at every twist and turn of a 35 bus, beginning with Bulwell, them Hempshill, Strelley, Bilborough, Wollaton, Lenton and finally, of course, Nottingham. To hear these place names in Old English is to hear our forebears speak: Bul(e)uuelle; Hamessal; Straelie/Straleia; Bileburch/burg; Waletone/Ol(l)avestone; Lentone/tune; Snoting(e)ham/quin.

If our 35 was able to go back a thousand years, it would also visit, or go very near, two 'lost' Lenton 'pre-Conquest' communities: Mortune and Sudtune/tone (now remembered as Sutton Passeys, the name having been revived in the 20th century). Nine of Nottingham's fifteen pre-Conquest communities are on its route. No other Nottingham bus route comes close to claiming the title 'Heritage Bus Route'.

The map below accompanies an entry on the Our Nottinghamshire website entitled 'A city greater than the sum of its parts'. The 

All the old photographs are from the Picture the Past website, the online image archive of Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, where there are thousands more photographs not only to look at, but buy as well.

The old adverts have been taken from a c.1936 Nottingham Official Handbook issued by Authority of Nottingham City Council. It is a treasure trove of information.

The orange line on the six maps below shows the route of the 35 from Bulwell to Nottingham City Centre. Many of the places which existed in 1960 have disappeared completely or have been replaced by parks, hotels, nature reserves, tram-tracks, housing and new roads.

The 35 bus route was created in about 1983. Its predecessors were the 55 between Bulwell and Bilborough and the 63 between Wollaton Vale and the City Centre.

If this Ride into History on a 35 has a theme of sorts, then it is housing. Nottingham has much to be proud off when it comes to housing, For all its black spots in the past and its failure to build more public housing in recent decades, the blame for this can be fairly laid at the door of successive central governments of all political persuasions.

Industry runs housing a close second, though in 2014 there is not much to see. In 1960 it would have been very different.

A trolleybus in Bulwell Market Place (enter years started and finished).

Babbington Colliery also known as Cinderhill Colliery (enter dates)

Holden Square, Cinderhill c1950. Also known as Brickyard Square (check).

 Broxtowe Boy by Derrick Buttress story and link to be entered.

Roman Broxtowe link to be entered.

Broxtowe Hall, demolished to make way for the Broxtowe estate. Location marked by the present-day street name, Broxtowe Hall Close.

Oxmoor Wood, Strelley, within ten minutes walk of the 35 bus (see walk page to be added).

At first glance this could be Tuscany, Italy. In fact its a view from Oxmoor Woods.

Balloon Houses, Bilborough, on the Trowell Road, demolished xxxx.

'Tottlebrook Bridge' on the Derby Road, located a few yards west of what is now the Priory Island roundabout.

Sherwood Foresters in September 1914 crossing the River Leen in Lenton, with the old Rose & Crown pub to the left of the photograph.

Spring Close, Lenton, showing the canal. The area was completely cleared to make way for the construction of the Queen's Medical Centre (add Lenton Times reference and link).

Lenton Lodge at Hillside by the Derby Road (add info)

Lenton Times link to be entered

South-west corner of Derby Road / Lenton Boulevard junction.

Lenton Savoy Cinema in 1949, surrounded by buildings (add info about makeover and when).

Nottingham Victoria Station forecourt, with Hotel to the right. Today, only the clock tower and Victoria Hotel remain.

Trolleybuses on Milton Street, outside the Victoria Hotel, in Nottingham City Centre, c1950. The 35 passes this spot every day as it makes its way to its own stop outside the Victoria Centre, by the entrance to John Lewis.

A view of the old Victoria Station clock tower from the 35 bus stop outside John Lewis.

A view down Angel Row, towards Old Market Square, from Mount Street
(add a 2014 photograph yet to be taken).


Each number refers to a location. See list beneath map for details (links to be added).

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hucknall Tourism & Regeneration Group mini-bus at Newstead Abbey.

For the past ten years Sheila and Ken Robinson have been organising and managing an annual programme of mini-bus tours for the Hucknall Tourism & Regeneration Group (HT&RG), which was founded in 2002. For 2017 they have arranged no less than seven different tours on twenty dates.

Laura Simpson, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Senior Practitioner in Heritage Tourism had the brilliant idea of asking Sheila and Ken to run a training day, ‘How to run a heritage bus tour on a budget’, which took place on 16 June 2017. A group of some twelve interested individuals, including two who found their way to the day from Derby, such was the interest. None of us left disappointed.

The morning was spent in the Dynamo House at Bestwood Country Park, where Laura did a presentation on Heritage Tourism in Nottinghamshire, which included information about the national scene as well. The county focus is on a collection of ‘themes’, including ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ (industrial history), ‘Rebellion and Freedom’ (dissent and liberty), ‘With Brush and Pen’ (literary and artistic heritage) and ‘Our Sporting Life’ (sporting heritage). 

The recession has resulted in the way we take breaks and holidays changing. More of us now stay with friends and family than in hotels or self-catering, and from the nodding heads I guessed it was a fact most of those present could relate to. Another one of the many interesting points made by Laura which caught my attention was a reference to ‘visitors’ (not ‘tourists’) who ‘come in pursuit of the real’. These are people who want to visit local pubs, sporting events, maybe ride on a bus. 

There was much in Laura’s presentation to hold the attention of local historians with an interest in reaching a wider audience, and as Sheila and Ken demonstrated with their presentation, you don’t have to have a museum or historic building. Organising walks is an obvious activity, but with the help of a mini-bus you can do much more. Sheila took us  through all the things you have to think about and plan for: funding (including sponsorship); costs (including insurance); routes (including duration); advertising ; Booking methods and the day of the tour itself — of which we had a perfect example after a sandwich lunch, when Sheila and Ken took us a Byron inspired tour from Bestwood to Annesley, Newstead Abbey, Hucknall, before returning to Bestwood, where we ended the day with a general discussion and muffins!

I went home mightily impressed by the enterprise of Sheila and Ken and thinking about the opportunities that exist for local historians everywhere to follow their example. I should point out that HT&RG does not duplicate existing bus routes or compete with them in any way. They fill up their 14 seat mini-buses quickly and they offered many tips on how to raise money from local businesses, especially people selling bathrooms and kitchens!

Among the pieces of paper we left with was a County Council Risk Assessment Record prepared for the training day. A useful document some might too easily dismiss as unnecessary. I found it quite the reverse. Laura’s enthusiasm also helped the day go well, as she made her way around the group talking to participants about their interests and reasons for attending.

I can see this training being organised again and when it is, book a place. You won’t be disappointed. Just to be sure you don't miss out, why not contact Laura Simpson direct and tell you are interested. Contact details as follows: Tel.0115 9932595, email:

There must be many other areas which could benefit from local heritage mini-bus tours. Beeston, for example, where I live has no direct access by main road or public transport to Eastwood and Brinsley, although we are in the same local authority area (Broxtowe). Heritage tours across Nottinghamshire could be organised. Some readers might remember the Sherwood Forester Sunday Network which used to run across the county, but was axed in 2010 because it was losing £40,000 a year. 

This year, the Hucknall Heritage Bus Tours includes to trips to Rufford Abbey and the Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum  — destinations difficult to reach easily from Hucknall. I'm sure you can think of your own examples.

The work of Sheila and Ken and their Hucknall Tourism & Regeneration Group shows that such ventures are clearly possible and, most importantly, viable.

Sheila Robinson talking to training day participants whilst at All Saints Annesley.

A view into what remains of Annesley (All Saints) Old Church.

Annesley Hall stable block, laundry and servants' accommodation.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A long overdo makeover is coming

After nothing for over three years I am returning to History By Bus with a monthly post and a makeover, beginning with the latter, as you can see in the new heading.

The focus of this blog will be History by buses which serve the Greater Nottingham area. Any wider ambitions have been ditched. Health problems and other priorities are the reason for this decision.

So why come back to it now? Well, anyone visiting my BeestonWeek blog will see that buses and heritage still figure in what I do, including maps. I have also continued to produce and amend my 'History by 35' leaflet which continues to be popular at what local history events I attend.

I am presently working with St Martin's Church in Bilborough, Nottingham, on a reprise of my 35 bus day out (date to be confirmed) and producing a new version of the 35 leaflet for the occasion.

Over the coming months I intend to look at selected individual bus routes.

I have also created a Nottingham City Centre heritage and cityscape map which offers the viewer a different perspective of what to see and do in the city. This is a work in progress (as maps always are) and can be seen under Pages in the column to the right of this text.

I am working on a blue plaque version of the City Centre map as well.

Robert Howard

Friday, 31 January 2014

Erewash days of delight

I spent over half my life crossing the Erewash valley without even knowing its name as anything other than that of a borough council or a river; somewhere to be crossed when going to and from other places. Long Eaton and Sandiacre were not more than names. Ilkeston I knew because of the Co-op and the town's lovely museum.

Eastwood is also part of the Erewash valley, even though it is in Nottinghamshire, so it is a town I know a little better, as much for its D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum as anything else.

The River Erewash forms part of the boundary between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and I knew about the Erewash Canal because I crossed it so many times on trips to Derby or Ripley and saw it from a bus at the point where the Tamworth Road and Canal run alongside one another as you leave Long Eaton heading towards Sawley and Castle Donington.

 A Skylink bus approaching Long Eaton town centre along the Tamworth Road, which for about half-a-mile runs alongside the Erewash Canal, on its way to Nottingham.

I always wanted to walk the Erewash Canal – something I finally managed in 2012 and 2013. Walking its seventeen miles  gave me a whole new appreciation of the Erewash valley and its importance. I did my walk in four chunks and have been back since on a couple of occasions. I am in process of creating a separate Erewash page and have created the map beliw to show how easy it is to reach from Nottingham and the buses you can catch. All run frequently, except the 20 (Sundays only) and the 21 (Monday–Saturday). These buses run every sixty minutes.

The northern end of the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill, where it joins the Cromford Canal. It also used to be where the Nottingham Canal ended.

The southern end of the Erewash Canal at Trent Lock, where it joins the River Trent. in the background you can see Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. To see more photographs and information about the Canal, go to the Erewash Canal page in the left-hand column.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Bestwood outing on a 141

Trent Barton's 141 calls at Bestwood Country Park every hour.

Even better it drops you off right by the Bestwood Village Park Road entrance to Bestwood Country Park and the old Bestwood Colliery Winding House.

Once beyond the sign and car park the Engine House comes into view...

...and to its left is the Dynamo House Tearoom — which was my first stopping point on a grey and damp January Saturday morning.

Inside the Dynamo House was full of folk looking at exhibits and displays, all on show for one day only, to support the launch of a new book, The Miners of Nottinghamshire: A History of the Nottinghamshire Miners’ Trade Unions Vol.4 1980–1985 by David Amos.

It was a great display and you can see it for yourself, as David is doing a reprise in Nottingham Central Library's Local Studies Library (Angel Row, in the city centre) on Tuesday 25 March at the Angel Row History Forum, 10.30am–12pm.

I took this picture of David with his book. A similar photograph and a review of his book was published in  the Nottingham Post a few days ago.

There is an information panel outside the Winding Engine House, albeit a bit faded. This is part of the panel, which tells you that the engine is the only existing twin cylinder vertical steam engine on its original site and is now a scheduled ancient monument. Bestwood Colliery opened in 1872 and the engine was commissioned in 1873 and was used continuously until the Pit closed in 1967.

The Winding Engine House opens every Saturday, 10am–12pm, from Easter until October, but a couple of volunteers were kindly taking groups round. Inside was an impressive model showing what Bestwood Colliery once looked like and I took this photograph of one part of the model.

A lift takes you, first, to level one where a brakeman used to control up to sixty ascents and descents an hour. From his position he had a view of the stockhead. The man at the controls is avery realistic looking dummy. 

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photograph of the cylinder, but I did manage to take two photographs of piston rods and supporting iron and steel girders.

This photograph shows the vertical piston rods which went to cylinder at a lower level.

The lift then took us to the second level, virtually in the roof of the engine house, where our volunteer guide, Malcolm Carter, showed us the eighteen foot diameter wheel drum around which 'the rope' (actually a steel cable of many strands capable of supporting loads of up to 120 tonnes — six times its maximum permitted limited), which was tested every few months.

What I found interesting was the fact that the drum's brakepads were made of oak and lasted 'many years'. The drum was also had weights to ensure that it was correctly balanced, so that it always operated smoothly. New weights were fitted when the drum was refurbished as part of the preservation process, but are not considered as good as the original balancing weights, because the engine is now noisier than it was when actually carrying loads.

Our guide Malcolm worked at the Colliery from the age of fifteen and started in the engine house, which he helped to maintain. 'Lives depended on us, so we took our work very seriously'. 

The last thing Malcolm showed us was a section of 'the rope', looking more like a work of art than something on which lives depended. It was a fascinating thirty minutes and a great example of Nottinghamshire's industrial heritage.

The 141 runs between Nottingham Victoria Bus Station and Sutton-in-Ashfield and also takes you to Newstead Abbey and Mansfield town centre and its excellent Museum & Art Gallery. Not the most direct route by any means, but a wonderful example of a working bus route serving lots of small communities, so come Easter why not spend an hour one Saturday morning at Bestwood Country Park, visiting the Winding House, then catch the next 141 to Newstead Abbey for lunch, then tea in Mansfield after a visit to town's museum.  A great 'History by Bus' day out I promise you.

The website Sherwood Forest Visitor has this excellent map of Bestwood Country Park (see below), but like so many websites it has no information about bus services. Otherwise a great website well worth looking at.