Late 20th Century Nottingham (1950 – 1999)

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Nottingham's Council House and Old Market Square (1991)
Nottingham’s Council House and Old Market Square (1991)

22 April 1950

Nottingham artist Noel Denholm Davis died. Born in Nottingham in 1876, he studied at Nottingham School of Art and then the Royal Academy Schools, working mainly as a portrait painter. After a decade in London, he returned to live in Nottingham. Among his notable portraits were Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent, Albert Ball V.C. and William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. In 1928 Davis painted the historic murals in the dome of Nottingham’s Exchange Arcade and, in 1929, the frescoes in the stairwell of the Council House.

September 1950

The Walter Fountain on Lister Gate was demolished by the Council after erosion and storm damage made it unsafe.


Clifton and Wilford (south of the River Trent) were incorporated into the city.


The first one-man operated bus appeared in Nottingham.

24 July 1952

The 7ft high bronze Robin Hood Statue, sculpted by James Woodford RA, a former student of Nottingham School of Art, was unveiled in the dry moat near the Castle Gatehouse.

6 October 1952

Agatha Christie’s longest running production ‘The Mousetrap’ was performed for the first time in Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.3

19 August 1953

The first Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig (TMR) or ‘Flying Bedstead’ conducted its maiden tethered flight at Hucknall Aerodrome, Nottingham. The TMR was used to test the principles of jet powered vertical flight and was the first vertical take off aircraft, and a forerunner of the Harrier Jump Jet. The first untethered flight of the rig was made on 3 August 1954.


Guide dogs were allowed to remain on the lower saloon of all Nottingham City Transport buses.

5 May 1955

Prince Philip, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, opened Holme Sluices, part of the Nottingham Flood Protection Scheme.

8 May 1955

The Nottingham sculptor Joseph Else FRBS died. He was best known for his work on Nottingham Council House and its lions. He studied at Nottingham School of Art from 1890 to 1900 and then at the Royal College of Art in London. He began teaching at the Nottingham School of Art around 1919 and in 1922 was made principal, a position he held until 1939.

July 1955

Queen Elizabeth visited the Birkin lace making company, her first visit to Nottingham since the coronation.

2 July 1956

An inaugural BEA inter-city helicopter flight between Nottingham and Birmingham left from the Heliport at Trent Lane; flights were ‘suspended indefinitely’ after four months.


Nottingham City Transport installed heaters in all bus drivers’ cabs.


Jessamine Cottages on Gillyflower Hill were demolished to make way for the building of Peoples College, which opened on 23 March 1961.


Nottingham and District Technical College’s Newton building was constructed.

11 February 1957

An earth tremor affected Nottingham and the Midlands, causing buildings and furniture to shake.


Eric Irons was appointed in Nottingham as the country’s first black race relations officer.

March 1958

Clifton Bridge was completed.

5 June 1958

Clifton Bridge was formally opened by Princess Alexandra.

5 June 1958

Nottingham and District Technical College’s Newton building was opened by HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent.

21 June 1958

The last night at the Empire Theatre.


Abel Collin’s 18th century almshouses on Friar Lane were demolished as part of the Maid Marian Way development.


St. Nicholas’ Rectory, designed by Watson Fothergill, adjacent to St. Nicholas’ Church on Castle Gate, Nottingham, was demolished prior to the development of Maid Marian Way.

October 1958

Nottingham author Alan Sillitoe released ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’. The novel, set in the world of post war Nottingham, became the first Pan paperback to sell a million copies.

2 May 1959

Nottingham Forest beat Luton Town 2 – 1 to win the F.A. cup.

4 May 1959

A civic reception was held at the Council House and thousands gathered in the Old Market Square to honour Nottingham Forest’s FA Cup victory. The cup was taken from Midland Station on an open-top bus for a celebratory tour of the city.

8 August 1959

Harvey Hadden Stadium was opened by Sir Arthur Porritt.


The Orion cinema in Alftreton Road, Nottingham, was closed. The building was demolished in 1961.


Clifton Teacher Training College was founded, later to become part of Nottingham Trent University.

27 October 1960

The release date for the film ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ based on Alan Sillitoe’s 1958 novel set in Nottingham, starring Albert Finney and Shirley Anne Field. Much of the location filming took place in Nottingham.20

23 March 1961

The new People’s College was formally opened.

30 June 1961

New premises for Clarendon College were opened on Mansfield Road.

19 December 1961

The formula for the painkiller Ibuprofen was discovered by the pharmacologist Dr Stewart Adams and a team of scientists at the Nottingham Research Department of the Boots Pure Drug Company Ltd.


Eric Irons was appointed as the UK’s first black magistrate in Nottingham.

10 May 1962

The Reg Harcourt TV interview with Eric Irons and Alderman Cornelius Cameron about the appointment of Eric Irons as Britain’s first black magistrate in the city of Nottingham.


Pullman’s Store on Lower Parliament Street closed.

7 March 1963

The Beatles played for the first time in Nottingham, at the Elizabethan Ballroom above Co-operative House on Parliament Street.

23 May 1963

The Beatles played Nottingham again, this time at the Odeon Theatre on Angel Row.


The Post and the Nottingham Evening News merged.

24 June 1963

A demonstration and press conference was held in London for Telcan; a home video recording device. This first VCR was invented by the Nottingham Electric Valve Company, it cost £60, but could only record 20 minutes in black and white. The demonstration created a lot of interest, but few people at the time could actually see the need for home video recording.

1 July 1963

The last edition of the Nottingham Evening News was published.

13 July 1963

The old Playhouse on Goldsmith Street was closed.

5 November 1963

Nottingham still had 40 miles of cobblestone streets.

11 December 1963

The new Nottingham Playhouse was formally opened on Wellington Circus.


The Nottingham Mechanics’ Institute was demolished and the site redeveloped.


Part of Nottingham’s medieval town wall was discovered during the construction of Maid Marian Way.

6 November 1964

ATV Midlands News: GEM Super Centre opened in West Bridgford, Nottingham. The first UK large-scale edge-of-city superstore.

7 November 1964

US firm Gem opened the first UK large-scale edge-of-city superstore in West Bridgford, Nottingham.12

12 July 1965

The Odeon on Angel Row reopened as the country’s first two screen cinema.


Maid Marian Way was described as ‘one of the ugliest streets in Europe’ by Arthur Ling, professor of town planning at the University of Nottingham.


Nottingham’s notorious Hyson Green flats were built.


The first regional branch of the National Film Theatre was opened in Nottingham.


Nottingham’s Balloon Woods flats, on Wollaton Vale, were built between 1966 and 1970.

30 June 1966

The last public service journey by Nottingham trolley buses took place; the last ceremonial journey was on 1 July 1966.

3 September 1966

The last steam hauled through train service ran between Nottingham’s Victoria Station and London.8


Nottingham’s Post and News was the first British newspaper to publish computer-set editorial and advertising text.


The Nottingham Bluecoat School moved from its city centre site.


Nottingham’s Lenton flats were built; five 16-storey blocks; Abbey Court, Willoughby Court, Newgate Court, Lenton Court and Digby Court.

25 May 1967

A new section of the M1 motorway from Nuthall, Nottingham, to Annesley, was officially opened by the Transport Minister Barbara Castle.

4 September 1967

Victoria Station was finally closed.7

31 January 1968

BBC Radio Nottingham went on air.

May 1968

Queen Elizabeth visited the Raleigh cycle factory.

20 May 1968

Nottingham’s first female Lord Mayor, Winifred Case, was elected.


The city and county police forces were merged to form Nottinghamshire Police.


West Bridgford UDC Transport undertaking came under Nottingham City Transport’s control.


The famous Raleigh Chopper was unveiled by cycle manufacturer Raleigh.


Nottingham’s Basford flats were built.

8 March 1969

Nottingham’s famous Black Boy Hotel, the landmark Victorian masterpiece by local architect Watson Fothergill, finally closed its doors and, against local opposition, was demolished and replaced by a dull utilitarian concrete store.

20 July 1969

The Apollo 11 space flight landed the first humans on the Moon.


The 15th century Severns building was moved timber by timber from Middle Pavement on the edge of the Lace Market to opposite Robin Hood’s statue, near Nottingham Castle.


Nottingham’s famous Black Boy Hotel was finally demolished and replaced by a dull utilitarian concrete store.

January 1970

Nottingham City Transport introduced one-man operation and by 1977 nearly all services were one-man operated.

March 1970

Fashion designer Paul Smith opened his first shop in Nottingham.

2 June 1970

Trent Polytechnic was designated.

11 July 1970

A painting of Queen Elizabeth II, by local artist John Townsend, was presented to Nottingham City Council by local businessman Lewis Coulton.

October 1970

Nottingham University established the UK’s first Medical School of the 20th century.


Dr Ernest Want became Nottingham’s and Britain’s first Asian Lord Mayor.21


Stan Mellor, the first jockey ever to ride 1,000 winners, attained his record at Nottingham Racecourse.


Speedo, the world’s leading name for swimwear, took over a Nottingham factory and made it their centre of European operations.


Construction began of the four multi-storey blocks of the new Queen’s Medical Centre.


Clifton Bridge was made into a dual-carriageway.


The main Post Office moved from the ornate Victorian building on Queen Street to new premises at the top of the street.


The largest Boots store in the world opened in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre.28

9 February 1972

Wings played their first ever gig at Nottingham University. Students and staff were stunned when Paul McCartney and Wings rolled up on their doorstep, for an impromptu debut gig in the Portland Ballroom, at midday on Wednesday 9 February 1972.

21 June 1972

The old Central Market, on King Edward Street, Nottingham, was finally closed, before the new Victoria Market opened in the Victoria Centre on 23 June 1972.

23 June 1972

The formal opening of the Victoria Shopping Centre took place.

1 November 1972

The official opening of the huge new John Player & Sons Horizon Factory, built between 1969 and 1971.

4 November 1972

Jessop & Son closed their old department store on King Street, Nottingham, ready for the move to new premises in the Victoria Shopping Centre.

8 November 1972

Having closed its old store on King Street on the 4 November, Nottingham’s Jessop & Son department store opened in its new premises in the Victoria Centre. Over 800 managers and staff stopped the traffic in Parliament Street as they wheeled trolleys full of stock and carried mannequins and tables to the new building.6

20 February 1973

The Emett Clock in the Victoria Centre was unveiled.

June 1973

Nottingham’s morning Guardian Journal newspaper closed.

27 July 1973

The National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont opened.

November 1973

A Zone and Collar traffic control scheme was proposed for Nottingham, to reduce the amount of traffic entering the city centre and to improve bus services, in an attempt to deal with the rapidly increasing number of cars in the city.

28 January 1974

Some Nottingham City Transport bus inspectors were issued with portable radio sets.

28 January 1974

Jim Lees of Nottingham, probably the world’s foremost expert and author on Robin Hood, set up the Robin Hood Society.

6 January 1975

Brian Clough became Manager of Nottingham Forest.

25 March 1975

The Broad Marsh Shopping Centre was opened by H.R.H, The Duke of Gloucester.

3 July 1975

Radio Trent was amongst the country’s first commercial stations when it was launched in Nottingham.

August 1975

The unsuccessful Zone and Collar traffic scheme was introduced experimentally on the western side of Nottingham, aiming to delay non bus traffic, give buses priority and encourage car drivers to use the scheme’s Lilac Leopard park and ride coaches.


Nottingham City Transport’s fleet of buses reached an all time high of 494 vehicles.

17 March 1976

Everest Mountaineer Doug Scott was made a Freeman of the City.

May 1976

The Nottingham Evening Post became the first newspaper to publish a story set electronically by a journalist.


The Theatre Royal was refurbished by Nottingham City Council.


Dr Peter Mansfield tested his first prototype magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner on himself at Nottingham University.


Castle Rock Brewery started brewing beer in Nottingham.

13 May 1977

Samantha Morton, the actor and film director, was born in Nottingham.

28 July 1977

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Nottingham on the Silver Jubilee Tour.

28 July 1977

Queen Elizabeth officially opened Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

22 April 1978

Forest became First Division Champions with four games to play.

6 June 1978

Princess Anne visited Nottingham.

11 November 1978

Nottingham’s Children’s Hospital was transferred to the University Hospital, Queen’s Medical Centre.

21 November 1978

Nottingham’s Viv Anderson became the first black football player to represent England at international level when he was picked to play against Czechoslovakia.

17 March 1979

Nottingham Forest beat Southampton 3 – 2 to win the League Cup at Wembley.

30 May 1979

Forest beat Malmo F.C. 1 – 0 in Munich to win the European Cup.

January 1980

Blenheim Industrial Estate was opened.

28 May 1980

Forest beat Hamburger S V 1-0 in Madrid to retain the European Cup.


Experian, one of the world’s leading information services companies, was established in Nottingham.


Pretty Polly, a British brand of women’s tights based in Nottingham, was the first hosiery company to advertise on TV in the UK.

12 July 1980

The Bulwell factory of flower pot manufacturer Richard Sankey and Son Ltd was destroyed by fire.34

5 June 1981

Queen Elizabeth visited the University of Nottingham for its centenary celebrations.

10-12 July 1981

The Nottingham ‘Riots’ as they were referred to by the local paper, a battle between the Police and rioters, took place mainly in and around the Hyson Green Flats complex.


The first year of the annual Nottingham ‘Robin Hood’ Marathon.


Nottingham’s Wilford Power Station closed and was demolished shortly afterwards. The site was redeveloped as Riverside Retail Park.

17 November 1981

The Women’s Hospital on Peel Street closed.

27 November 1982

The Royal Concert Hall opening concert took place with Elton John.

2 December 1982

The Royal Concert Hall was officially opened.


Richard (Dick) Iliffe, local photographer and film maker, died. Richard and his colleague Wilf Baguley set up the Nottingham Historical Film Unit, holding a huge collection of old Nottingham photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, many published in a series of books.


Police Constable and Ex-Grenadier Guard Dennis ‘Tug’ Wilson retired from the police force. He was a familiar figure in and around the Old Market Square in Nottingham, well-known not only for his height of 6ft 8in (7ft 2in with his helmet), but also for his magnificent handlebar moustache. He died in 1991.


Nottingham’s Torvill and Dean won the World Ice Dance Championship in Helsinki, scoring maximum marks for artistic interpretation.

28 April 1983

Jayne Torvill O.B.E. and Christopher Dean O.B.E. were made Freemen of the City of Nottingham.

14 February 1984

Nottingham’s Torvill and Dean became Olympic Ice-dance Champions in Sarajevo with a record score.

2 March 1984

Prince Philip visited Central TV and Nottingham High School.

4 April 1984

Nottingham’s Highfields Science Park project was launched with a time capsule being buried by Tomorrow’s World TV presenter Judith Hann.

19 April 1984

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip met Torvill and Dean on the Council House steps.

June 1984

Nottingham’s Balloon Woods flats, on Wollaton Vale, were demolished after defects were found in the concrete. They were replaced with conventional homes.


A canoe slalom and water ski lagoon were added to the National Water Sports Centre.


Nottingham’s Basford flats were demolished and a new estate of traditional homes was built on the site.


The first Mela in the country was held in Nottingham, a celebration of Asian arts, music and culture.


Nottingham’s Hyson Green flats were demolished and the City Council sold the site to Asda for a supermarket.

14 September 1987

Confirmation of the Nottinghamshire cricket double of the County Championship and the Nat West Trophy.

January 1988

The iconic Pearsons of Nottingham department store, with its Georgian facade facing Long Row, closed after 98 years.18


Nottingham’s notorious Hyson Green flats were demolished.


Diamond Cable started laying fibre-optic cables in Nottingham.

9 April 1989

Forest beat Luton Town 3-1 to win the Littlewood Cup-Final.

23 April 1989

Nottingham Panthers become Heineken British Ice Hockey League Champions.

8 May 1989

The inauguration took place of Councillor Tony Robinson the first black Sheriff of Nottingham.

27 May 1989

The Tales of Robin Hood visitor attraction opened on Maid Marian Way.

25 September 1989

Trent Polytechnic became Nottingham Polytechnic.

17 May 1990

Nottingham Tennis Centre was opened.

21 August 1990

Nottingham was voted ‘Top Town’ in the Reader’s Digest Moneywise Poll.

25 October 1990

The first Robin Hood Pageant was held.

18 May 1991

Tottenham Hotspur beat Forest 2-1 at Wembley to win the F A Cup.

18 July 1991

The UK premier of the new Robin Hood ‘Prince of Thieves’ film took place at the Showcase Cinema.

16 October 1992

Nottingham Polytechnic became Nottingham Trent University.

18 November 1992

The new City Information Centre opened in Smithy Row.


The new Robin Hood railway line from Nottingham to Newstead opened.

23 March 1993

Brian Clough O.B.E., M.A. was made a Freeman of the City of Nottingham.


Nottingham won the English Tourist Board’s England for Excellence Destination of the Year Award.


The Trent Wing of Nottingham’s old General Hospital was demolished.

14 July 1994

Alan Sillitoe was given an Honorary Degree by Nottingham Trent University.

September 1994

Completion of the award winning Inland Revenue Centre offices by architects Michael Hopkins and Partners.

19 October 1994

The start of Nottingham’s association with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.


The Robin Hood railway line was extended to Mansfield Woodhouse.

7 April 1995

The Galleries of Justice visitor attraction opened in the Shire Hall.

19 June 1995

The new Inland Revenue Building opened.

30 June 1995

The first London style taxi was introduced to Nottingham.

10 January 1996

BBC Radio Nottingham presenter Denis McCarthy died.

11 March 1996

The Nottingham Evening Post changed from a broadsheet newspaper to a tabloid.

3 May 1996

The new Magistrates’ Courts opened.

19 July 1996

Nottingham’s Unitary Status Confirmation was received.

7 September 1996

The first major ‘Gut-barging’ championships were held at Rock City in Nottingham.

25 December 1996

Part of Nottingham Castle museum path and retaining wall fell away from Castle Rock on to Peveril Drive. 200 tons of rubble, mud and infill material collapsed after a leak in a water main.

21 March 1997

Queen Elizabeth visited Nottingham during the city’s Centenary Year.

1 October 1997

Nottingham won the 1997 ‘Britain in Bloom Large City Award’.

October 1997

Games Workshop, one of the largest wargames companies in the world, moved all its UK-based operations to the headquarters in Lenton, Nottingham.

23 June 1998

A new ‘Our Style is Legendary’ logo to promote the city region of Nottingham was launched at the Council House to the local business community.

3 October 1998

Nottingham won the 1998 ‘Entente Florale Gold Award’.

1 March 1999

Nottingham City Council’s web page was launched on the Internet.

September 1999

Official opening of the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus by Queen Elizabeth, an academic park of award-winning architecture at a stunning waterside setting, regenerating the former Raleigh bicycle factory site.

Continue to Nottingham Now (2000 onwards)

Return to the introduction and contents page

Go to the top of this page

For other information about Nottingham click here

If you want to know more about Nottingham’s past there is further information in ‘Events and dates in Nottingham’s history’ and through these websites:

The Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway

The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

Nottingham Local Studies Library

3 Robinson, Oonagh, Nottingham Post, Bygones (Nottingham, Nottingham Post, 15 October 2012) p24
6 Hill, Steve, Nottingham Post, Bygones (Nottingham, Nottingham Post, 22 November 2012) p28
7 Willis, Nick, Nottingham Victoria Station Website (
8 Willis, Nick, Nottingham Victoria Station Website (
12 Kelly, Jon, BBC News Magazine Website: How first out-of-town superstore changed the UK (, 2 September 2013)
18 Lowe, David, Nottingham Post, Bygones (Nottingham, Nottingham Post, 2 December 2014) p36
20 IMDb, IMDb Website: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) (
21 Christopher Kul-Want, Guardian Website: Other lives, Ernest Want (, 16 November 2007)
28 Nottingham Post website, Nottingham in the 1970s: Photos from every year of the decade (
34 Smart, Andy, Nottingham Post, Bygones (Nottingham, Nottingham Post, 26 May 2016) p32

4 thoughts on “Late 20th Century Nottingham (1950 – 1999)

  1. I think that we have found a surviving part of Richard Ilife and Wilfred Baguley’s film archive …we are working on a project to transfer & conserve previously unseen home movie footage of Nottingham’s past and to screen a film of it at Lakeside on Oct 11th.

    While researching a tale of a local film archive gifted to a college, we came across cans of 16mm film, some of them clealy produced by the ‘Nottingham Historical Film Unit’ … more info as I have it…

    1. Hello Gary, yes, you have a good point there. That information was taken from City Council documents, but having researched Dr Want’s background I see you’re correct. I’ll make the changes to the blog pages as soon as I can. Thanks, Roy.

  2. Cheers, Dr Want was a really lovely man, he was my GP as a child and I remember him being a kind man.

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