English city, East Midlands

Founded near the River Trent, the settlement was originally named "Snodengaham" (later "Snottinghame"), after the followers of a local chieftain. The original settlement consisted of a number of caves in the cliff facing the River Trent, which now forms part of the Castle Rock and Sneinton, and dates back to the 6th century. Archaelogical evidence also supports Iron Age habitation. The soft Bunter Sandstone of the area is ideal for creating caves, and the presumed original site of Nottingham is still riddled with caves and tunnels. Nottingham's caves have been used for everything from living space, pub cellars, storage to involvement in political intrigues (Mortimer's Hole).

Saint Mary's Church, in what is now the Lace Market, formed the hub of the Saxon settlement, which became eclipsed when the focus shifted toward Nottingham Castle in Norman times. The town grew up between these two foci, and is now centred on the Old Market Square.

Considerably cheered that the "S" has been dropped over the years, the locals indulged in their various pursuits (poaching deer from Sherwood Forest, mining coal and trading with boats coming up the Trent), gradually expanding the city. In about 1760 the city began to grow much faster as the Industrial Revoution took hold, and growth continues to this day (although with less emphasis on light industry and more on service industries. Current population is around 280,000.

Commerce and industry grew apace, and the city grew quickly. Knitwear, lace and light engineering (based on coal) developed as communication with the rest of the country developed - the Nottingham Canal as well as roads to London and the North improved transport.

Once known as "King Coal" for its mining activities, Nottingham was at one time an important manufacturing city. Local industries are clothing and lace, light manufacturing and engineering, but the balance is shifting in favour of call centres. Nottingham Lace was, and is, world-famous, although output is somewhat scaled down nowadays, as production is cheaper overseas. It also boasts two universities, the University of Nottingham (the posh one), and the Nottingham Trent University (not so posh).

The city is now home to The Boots Company, John Player cigarettes and the tourist industry surrounding Robin Hood, although it is still hard to see exactly what brings people in, many of Nottingham's best buildings having gone under the bulldozer in the 60s and early 70s.

Famous people, and places to see

The legend of Robin brings tourists in from all over the world, but the romantic legends are not supported by the evidence. His traditional home of Sherwood Forest is almost gone, and only a few meagre square miles around the Major Oak remain. Supposed links with the castle are tenuous at best, and Robin (an outlaw remember) is unlikely to have spent much time in the city.

Robin is not the only tourist magnet, however - Lord Byron lived in Newstead Abbey, and is buried at Hucknall. Wollaton Hall houses a wonderful industrial museum with a nice working steam engine], and the Galleries of Justice provide an insight into the history of the British criminal justice system.

Famous Nottingham

Nottingham has its worthies, too. It is the birthplace of entertainer Leslie Crowther, the prizefighter and evangelist Bendigo and the mathematician George Green. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was born in Sneinton. Look for buildings by the great architect Watson Fothergill, it's worth an afternoon looking for them.

it is also famous for the annual Goose Fair and it boasts two football (trans:  soccer) teams, both of which have their grounds near the River Trent - the County Ground Notts County is in the City boundary, but the City Ground (Nottingham Forest FC) is outside, in the County. I still can't work that one out...

Other famous people with local connections are Su Pollard, Brian Clough and Conservative Prime Ministerial contender Kenneth Clarke.

Pubs and whatnot

There is some heated dispute as to which is the oldest pub in the city - some say the Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, some think it is The Salutation Inn, others, The Bell. I refrain from the argument, as they all serve fine real ales. Another evidence of the city planners' thoughtlessness is the Flying Horse - once the finest coaching inn in the city, all that remains of this fascinating pub is the frontage.

Nottingham people always raise a cheer during films whenever Nottingham Castle is shown, as the current incarnation looks more like a wedding cake than the castellated medieval edifices of Hollywood. During a local showing of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, there was an uproar fit to make the ears bleed when the beautifully ancient curtain walls and keep were shown.

Nottingham allegedly has "the prettiest girls in the Kingdom", and the female/male ratio is supposedly higher than anywhere else. Saturday evenings certainly bring out a bevy of beautiful babes (Sorry!), although many of these may not be indigenous, owing to a large student population.

The Other Nottingham

Little-known to most people is that Scotland boasts its own Nottingham, near Wick, Highland. Bereft of a castle, universities or football teams, and much closer to any coast, this hamlet will, sadly, forever remain in the shade of its East Midlands namesake.

Further in-depth research is required, to establish the state of its girls and beer.

Another Nottingham has been pointed out to me in Chester County, Pennsylvania. I apologise for overlooking this one. Further in-depth research is required, etc...

SharQ says There are two Nottinghams in Alabama (Jefferson and Talladega County), one in Georgia (Cobb County), one in Indiana (Wells County), one in Maryland (Baltimore county), one in Maryland (Anne Arundel County), one in New Hampshire (Rockingham county), one in New Jersey (Mercer county), one in Ohio (Cuyahoga county), one in Pennsylvania (Chester county), three(!) in Virginia (Scott, Northamton and Chesterfield county) and one in West Virginia (Pocahontas county).

Though it is true that Su Pollard is from Nottingham, and this is almost enough to warrant the entire place being nuked off the map (woman in question being an "actress" from pitiful UK sitcom Hi-de-hi, famous for being desperately, naffly terrible), Nottingham is actually a very fine place. A comparatively small city, it has a very young population (being a university city) and is therefore a city alive with a lot of energy and talent. Nottingham has a traditionally strong club culture and a ridiculous amount of bars - as in many.

One of Notts' fine strengths is its amazing strength in depth at participation sports. The people of Nottingham, though not fanatical like, for instance, the population of Newcastle, are very into playing sport - not necessarily watching, as the fairly small crowds of Nottingham Forest and Notts County testify. Many great footballing (soccering - blah!) talents have emerged from the city, with its nationally renowned youth leagues (Young Elizabethan). Also, there are many participants at rugby (union), where Nottingham are no longer a real force, yet still many young talents come through. There are a number of good junior clubs behind Nottingham such as Newark and Paviors.

There is the National Ice Centre, where the Nottingham Panthers play (ice hockey) and are moderately successful at the moment - the increased participation following the building of the stadium is likely to lead to greater takeup of winter sports and more Torvill and Deans...Nottingham's world famous Olympic champion ice dancers, who attended Frank Seely school. Plus...there is the Nottingham Tennis Centre, a great facility that is enabling the city to become a centre for tennis talent. The Tennis Centre holds the annual pre-Wimbledon Nottingham Open. Then there is Trent Bridge, the famous test cricket venue, which is being impressively renovated and provides great coaching facilities. Nottingham's cricket is very strong at a participation level - the Premier League of junior clubs is among the finest in the country. Add to this mix the success of the county's two athletics clubs (Nottingham and Mansfield), and a boom in minority sports (street hockey) and you have one of the Britain's most talented places as regards sport.

Nottingham (and Notts) is quite small, hugely busy (all of the country's traffic seems to go through it), and, in places, very beautiful.

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