The Keith Train Memorial Lecture: 10 October

The annual Keith Train Memorial Lecture is now a firmly established feature in the lecture programme of both the Thoroton Society and the Nottingham Civic Society. On the 10th October over 120 members and invited guests from neighbouring Civic Societies gathered at the Djanogly Innovation Centre, Nottingham Trent University to hear this year's lecture given by Michael Gwilliam, the Director of the Civic Trust.

The speaker, using some excellent slides, ranged widely over entries in the various categories of the annual Civic Trust national award scheme. He stressed the need to find new uses for old buildings; this was essential if a city was to retain its unique character. He made particular reference to Nottingham, praising the Inland Revenue buildings and the new developments on the canal side between Wilford Road and Carrington Street. He enthused about the prospect of creating an urban renaissance in Britain such that those who looked to Barcelona and more specifically to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao for inspiration would find equally satisfying projects at home.

In answering questions at the end the speaker gave encouragement to those asking for advice on topics ranging from the impact of a supermarket on small local shops (Beeston) to the failure of Amenity Societies to recruit younger members. (Don't worry about it, attract those whose children have left home, have retired early, have time, enthusiasm and expertise).

Ken Brand

Dr David Knight’s lecture: 14 October

The Autumn lecture series got off to an unusual start: it is rare for the lecture chairman to start by announcing that the speaker is over the road in the Police Station!

David Knight had the great misfortune to have his car broken into and his precious slides and notes taken. A very distressed speaker came to the YMCA, then went to report the incident, check his car, and wonder whether a non-illustrated talk was feasible. He was bravely prepared to do that on his return, but in the meantime Jean Nicholson had stepped into the breach with a box of slides taken by Nancy Mulholland, so David agreed to talk on a later occasion.

Nancy’s slides provided an impromptu quiz. Taken within walking distance of Pennyfoot Street in the 50s and 60s, they proved a real puzzle, even with a knowledgeable audience – in fact some were not ‘identified’, including, surprisingly, a church under demolition and a porticoed chapel. Among rare slides of historic importance were two of the Victoria Hotel fire in the late 1960s.

So it is commiserations to David Knight; and thanks to Jean for providing a fascinating substitute at short notice.

Neville Hoskins

Health, Hope and Charity: ‘It’s The Poor wot got the Blame’: 28 October

So ran the title of the one day conference of the Nottinghamshire Local History Association, held on 28 October at Woodborough Village Hall. In the morning, Marion Wallwork, a member of the Council of the National Trust, spoke about the Poor Law and workhouses in general, followed by interesting slides of the Southwell Workhouse. Terry Fry then referred in particular to pauper lunatics and asylums in his talk on the treatment of the mentally ill in Nottinghamshire.

In the afternoon, there were five short talks. Margaret Bagley introduced us to the Gordon Boys Home in Nottingham, designed to rescue homeless lads who wore blue uniforms while working as messengers etc. Derek Walker commented on the attempts of ‘the well-intentioned Mr. Brown’, Rector of Eakring, whose attempts to improve the lot of the inhabitants were regularly thwarted by an obstreperous community. Barbara Gallon compared the rigours of the Mansfield Workhouse (1728-1837) with the Union Workhouse which succeeded it, and Rosemary Wood spoke about the benefits of the Woodborough Male Friendly Society which flourished from 1803 to 1954. Finally, Joan Bray made a plea for more groups and societies to visit the Local Studies Library in Nottingham for a guided tour to see what is on offer.

John Beckett