My calendar had a sad message this morning which I had forgotten to delete. It reminded me that today I was to open the Nottingham town trail which follows the route taken by the annual Nottingham inclosure walk. The event has, of course, been postponed.
The trail was designed by the redoubtable June Perry, chair of the Friends of the Forest which campaigns to protect Nottingham’s network of ancient green spaces. The Friends work closely with Nottingham City Council.
June also organised the event in October 2015 when I planted the second inclosure oak in the Forest, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inclosure award of 1865 (made under the Inclosure Act of 1845) which protected the forest—in the same year that the Open Spaces Society was founded.
The five-mile inclosure walk and the town trail link the open spaces which resulted from the 1865 award. starting by the River Trent at Wilford Bridge and ending by the original inclosure oak of 1865, which is still going strong.
And the little tree which I planted is also growing well (a screenshot from the video of the town trail which you can watch here).
June has described the route:
‘The pieces of “allotted recreation ground” as they are called, are more or less linked up already, except for Queens Walk, which is separated from most of the remainder which are on a northern semicircle of the old town. Queens Walk has been eroded by, first, the rebuilding of the Meadows which involved cutting off about a quarter of its length at the station end, and then the extension of the tram taking the centre of the walk for its tracks. So the fine view from the station to the riverside as the first glimpse for travellers to Nottingham was removed, and the view back to the church of St Mary’s was made more difficult.
‘After Queens Walk Park, which is next to the Walk, the old town must be crossed to reach the next allotted recreation ground. This one is Victoria Park, which had started life as Meadow Platt cricket ground, but later in the century it was refashioned as Victoria Park with attractions for the numerous children round about, trees and a drinking fountain. It is next door to an old cemetery, known as the cholera cemetery, where Bendigo’s monument can be seen. The wall between has now been opened and the tombstones removed to create additional green space.
‘After following St Ann’s Well Road to the bottom of Robin Hood Chase, the route is almost continuous. From the Chase to Corporation Oaks, St Ann’s Hill, Elm Avenue, the Arboretum Approach, the Arboretum, the General Cemetery, Waterloo Promenade and the Forest the only break is from the top of the cemetery at Canning Circus to Forest Road West, and the backstreets between these have their own historic and visual interest.
‘We decided to finish the Inclosure Walk at the inclosure oak, which commemorates the final award of the act, partly because it seems an appropriate place to do so and partly because the Rock Cemetery, just beyond, is one step too far for most walkers. In 2015 a second inclosure oak was planted ceremoniously by the secretary of the Open Spaces Society, to celebrate the passing of 150 years since the planting of the first oak, with a visit from the Sheffield Giants and a Morris team.’
Town trail information boards have gone up through the town, marking the stages of the route.
I have already booked 27 June 2021 in my diary when I fervently hope I shall be able to open the town trail, and to thank the Friends and June in particular for all their hard work. Only two digits on June’s beautifully prepared invitation will need altering.
Meanwhile, the Friends and Nottingham City Council continue to work together to keep Nottingham’s precious and ancient open spaces in good order.