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December 5, 2019


1920s Nottingham was a place of desperate change; the 1800s were a distant memory and the sourness of Victorian living could still be seen and felt across the city. Overcrowding and poor sanitation systems had let disease and illness run rampant and the city was still trying to recover, closing down slums in a bid to reduce people living in poor, filthy conditions and making way for improved services and living areas. It was also the time of the silver screen boom and would see Nottingham’s most grand cinema – the Elite Cinema open in 1921.

The 1920s Expansion

As the slums began to be torn down and families began to move from the cave network that ran beneath the city. There was a desperate need for housing that needed to be addressed. This is one of the greatest influences on the city of Nottingham you see today and is all down to a man called Thomas Cecil Howitt. Howitt was responsible for procuring sites, accepting tenders and the design of the properties that would become beloved family homes. The first construction of Howitt’s properties was on Woodville Drive and cost only £844 a house, or just over £35,000 today.

Following the success of the Woodville Drive project, a further three sites were rapidly developed. However, they had to follow a set of rules – one of which was to accommodate all existing trees, an influence from neighbouring Garden Cities. Additionally, all houses were to have their own garden spaces and access to gardens from the road, properties should be set back a minimum of 75feet from the road and living rooms should be built in a way to collect as much natural light as possible.

Today, you can see Howitt’s property influences, especially in areas with wider roads and plenty of green natural spaces and some of the properties built by Howitt’s tendered construction teams can still be seen in their glory today in the residential areas of Nottingham.

What’s Left From the 1920s

Sadly, a lot of the architecture and buildings that were built around this time faced destruction and devastation during World War II when a number of bombings rained down on the city. Included in the destruction was the loss of the Co-operative Bakery and the St John Baptist Church that stood on what is now Canal Street. Luckily, the Council House, now the city hall in Nottingham and built between 1927 and 1929 was unaffected and still stands proudly today with its striking Neo-Baroque style architecture.

There are still some glimpses of classic architecture around the city to be seen, including the first council houses on Bath Street in the Sneinton area. Built earlier in 1876, the original gothic architecture can be seen towards the front of the property, with the newer, less iconic modernisation towards the rear.

Images from Yesteryear

Nottingham, as it was in the 1920s, may be (mostly) all gone but that doesn’t mean the memories are! You can see a beautiful series of photos taken from the air over the city during the 1920s and 1930s on the Nottingham Post, and read about Nottingham’s literary history during the 1920s via the Nottingham City of Literature website. Not to mention, you can learn about historic Nottingham by visiting some of the most haunted locations in the area, too.

Need a hotel in Nottingham?

Are you looking to stay in Nottingham or explore the surrounding areas? Whether you are chasing history or coming to enjoy the modern-day city, the Best Western Nottingham Derby Hotel is your conveniently located accommodation.

With excellent travel links to both Nottingham and Derby, the Best Western is the ideal Nottingham hotel for excursions to the area. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner in the onsite Grill at Twenty Five, our contemporary restaurant or make use of our meeting room, with space for up to 60 guests.

Whatever brings you to the area, we look forward to welcoming you to the Best Western Nottingham Derby Hotel.

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