Nottingham by Professor John Beckett

Overview: conclusion      

Modern apartments alongside the canal at Castle Boulevard.Modern apartments alongside the canal at Castle Boulevard.

Modern Nottingham is a cosmopolitan city, a regional centre, with a reputation for its cultural heritage and its night life. At night its numerous pubs are filled to capacity, although for a city once famed for its ale the closure of the Shipstones and Home Breweries in recent years is a reminder of the growing power of a few large companies in the brewing industry. The city evokes very different responses, from the 1990 Moneywise survey which described Nottingham as ‘a wonderful place with a pleasant environment' to modern images of uncontrolled gun crime in certain areas and a thriving weekend night life. In the 1930s W.G. Jackson, later Director of Education, wrote of ‘a great industrial city [which had] preserved beauty where that was possible, and added beauty when opportunity afforded'.  Today the claim to be ‘the commercial, retailing and administrative centre of the East Midlands', is at least tempered with the recognition that ‘there are areas of extreme disadvantage, which have disproportionately high rates of unemployment, low income, poor health, and social problems'.

Nottingham still sees itself as a regional centre with a cultivated image as ‘Queen of the Midlands'. The market place, as it has been for nearly a thousand years, is the communal heart of the city, recently transformed and now dominated in some respects by the modern tram service. If the garden image disappeared in the great expansion of the years 1750-1830 a number of places still evoke the atmosphere of the old town, while the Arboretum and the several recreational walks laid out in the 1850s continue to remind us of Victorian civic attitudes towards open spaces. The rise since the late 1960s of the conservation movement, with its emphasis on regeneration and alternative use rather than wholesale destruction and renewal, means that at the heart of the city are buildings and areas which recall its long heritage. Nottingham is both a historic, and a modern city.