My brother Greg arrived in Nottingham yesterday for a stay of about 8 days. The allure of free accommodation and golf in the Midlands could not be resisted.
We met him at the bus station on Sunday and allowed him to settle and recuperate as we had a busy itinerary planned. So rested and fed, Monday morning we went on the walking tour of Long Eaton (just so he knew where Tesco is located in case he needed to go to the shop) finishing at Anderson’s for a cup of coffee, followed by a visit to Nottingham city centre.
We caught the bus at Market Place into Nottingham to investigate the Caves beneath the city. Now I had been here before but the tour had been changed for the better with three guides giving different parts of the story. It starts with the geology of the city and explains that Nottingham (Snottingham in Saxon – fortunately the name developed over time) is built on a sandstone plinth and that from the times of early settlement people were digging cellars and caves into the rocky plinth. A number of the caves were joined together during WW2 to provide an air raid shelter. Our first guide showed us one of the wells used by inhabitants down through the ages and explained how they unknowingly poisoned themselves through sewerage passing into these wells. She also pointed out the chisel marks of ancient tools on the walls explaining how these caves were dug by hand.
Our second guide was looking for apprentices to work in the underground tannery and described the dirty filthy work undertaken to produce leather and how this industry also polluted the water of the river causing illness among the inhabitants. Not only did they pollute the ground water by storing the hides in sandstone tanks which leaked into the ground and wells but they also polluted the river by washing their hides in the river.
With the commencement of WW2 and particularly the Battle of Britain, many of the cellars and caves were joined together to create Anderson shelters. Our third guide took us through one such shelter constructed in the caves, fitted out in much the same way as it was during the war with gas masks and bunks.
Even after the war, the caves continued to be used until the development of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre when through public pressure the developers were forced to preserve the caves and build the centre over the top of them.
It was after 4.00pm when we finished at the Caves however we had purchased a two for one ticket which included the Galleries of Justice which we planned for the next day. Before heading home we visited the Castle and decided to return there tomorrow also. For now we had to meet Kerry at the Crowne Plaza for our Rotary meeting.