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Clifford W Fulford
West Bridgford Resident.
From Kelly's Directory of Nottinghamshire 1922.
WEST BRIDGFORD is a parish, township and village, on the south bank of the river Trent, at the junction of the Grantham canal, 11/2 miles south-by-east from Nottingham, the river being here crossed by a substantial bridge; the parish is in the Rushcliffe division of the county, wapentake of Rushcliffe, Basford union, |Nottingham petty sessional division, county court district and archdeaconry, rural deanery of West Bingham and diocese of Southwell.
Much derided by Nottinghamians as “Bread and Lard Island”, West Bridgford is for the greater part a dormitory town for Nottingham. With a largely by white middle class population anxious to avoid the higher rates across the border, West Bridgford has successfully fought off attempts at annexation by the City Nottingham on several occasions. With the backing of the local MP, West Bridgford residents have also resisted attempts to introduce much improved accessible transport provision in the form of the modern tram which would have substantial improved travel to and from the City.
West Bridgford has a thriving town centre which consists primarily of coffee shops and restaurant chain outlets, together with a remarkable number of Charity shops. It is generally asserted that these establishments, for different reasons, are the only ones that can afford the commercial rent and rates. As each of the few remaining independent retailer's leases comes up for renewal it appears that they are forced to look for cheaper premises elsewhere or fold.
Twice a month the old Bridgford Park croquet lawn is given over to a “farmers market” where residents can buy produce in a lively market atmosphere at what many may think to be enhanced prices which include the notorious Bridgford premium.
Albert Heymann, the son of a wealthy lace maker in the City of Nottingham sold the hall and grounds to West Bridgford Urban District Council for a song. The park was supposed to be maintained for the recreation of local residents in perpetuity but there has been successive encroachments in order to build car parks.
When I was a boy there were 7 tennis courts and a putting green behind the hall. There was a park keeper and a park keeper's hut which on occasion the local youth took pleasure in turning over during the night. You could rent equipment when you paid for the court or the putting green. Now there are just 2 tennis courts which Rushcliffe Borough failed to maintain or manage for years until Activeace took over the management of the courts. In 2016 when the court surface had become so slick with wear, mud and moss that they were dangerous, even on a damp day, the courts were finally cleaned and resurfaced. Currently the courts are grippy even in the rain.
The park is quite small now, very flat and consists mainly of grass and trees with a few flower beds in front of the hall. There are well maintained asphalt paths and the park is very accessible to people who are mobility impaired.
There is now an al fresco coffee outlet on the edge of the old croquet lawn next to the public toilets. The croquet lawn is used for craft markets and the twice monthly farmers market.
Many of the trees are fruit bearing as they were part of the orchard to the hall. The cherry trees are smided out with fruit. As the trees aren't maintained, a lot of the cherries look a bit misshapen but there is a lot of fruit available if you have the brass neck to bring a set of steps. There are several varieties of crab apple, one that I particular like, has a sweet pink flesh. Elderberry also grows in profusion.
Many of the trees now have identification plaques on nearby posts. There is a tree walk for which the signboard is near the old main gates to the hall.
There are 4 copses in the park which in recent years have been routinely cleared of undergrowth and wood chippings have been used to enlarge the paths through them. I suspect it may not be that good ecologically but it does look good and makes more of the park accessible.
Bridgford Park is home to grey squirrels, magpies, blackbirds, hedgesparrows, pigeons and a couple of very cantankerous crows. Foxes roam the park at dusk but appear to be residents of the adjacent Bridge Fields rather than the park itself. There was a nesting mistle thrush until late June this year (2017).
The cast iron drinking fountain which was hugely popular when I was a kid is still in place but is now surrounded by shrubbery and it is no longer functioning.
Most of the old park benches have been replaced over the years with the latest incarnation being all metal, presumably some light weight alloy, structures but there is is still at least one old West Bridgford UDC cast iron affair left. Some of the slats have been broken out and I do wonder whether it will be survive to be restored to its former glory or if it will be replace with one of utilitarian all metal affairs.
The gates are supposed to be open between dawn and dusk but the process is very unreliable.
Sometimes you will find the gates locked at 5.30 or 6pm when it is still quite light until 8pm, other times they will still be open when it is very dark indeed, particularly if there has been a big match at the City Ground or an England game on TV. Bank holidays, the gates aren't locked at all, which I assume is to avoid paying premium rates to the park staff.
The eight gates may be locked in clockwise or counter clockwise order starting from any gate at all, so it is quite easy to get locked in. There used to be egress from the gate to the Hall car park but since the renovations started this has been closed off completely.
In extremis I recommend using the wall by the recycling skips. Climb on the wall with the aid of the last tree before the gate, there is a gap in the hedge right there, walk along the wall to the gate and you may find it a relatively simple task for an adult or teenager to step over the fence onto the wall on the other side. For the elderley or infirm I guess you will need to call the police. NB. Once the renovations were completed a new gate was introduced an the left side the Hall to give access to users of the apartment hotel. This is currently left open all night (as at 2/2/2018).
Frustrating as it is for adult residents the locked gates are welcomed by teenagers as their late night trysts in the summer months are unlikely then to be disturbed.
The children's play park is well maintained and is hugely popular even in midwinter if the sun is out. The proximity of shopping and now the al fresco coffee and snacks has made the venue more popular than ever for parents and toddlers.
There are a number of outdoor exercise groups including mums, bums and tums that meet regularly in park.There is also a circuit of rude exercise equipment located around the park which empirical evidence would suggest is rarely used.
Activeace provided tots and children's tennis coaching on Saturday mornings, almost whatever the weather and there are adult classes during the week and at weekends. There used to be a free social tennis evening throughout the year on Thursday evenings organised by the players themselves. With only two courts now available numbers were restricted so would be attenders were asked to book first. Unfortunately the social tennis event has been withdrawn I am endeavoring to work with Activeace to get it reinstated. As Rushcliffe, unlike the City of Nottingham does not fund any public parks tennis it is likely that if we are successful in bringing back social tennis that there will be small charge of perhaps £3 a session. If you would like social tennis to be revived please email email@example.com.
There are two annual events in the park, the “Lark in the Park” in August. Described as a family fun day I'm afraid that after the first 10 years of minimal variation it does start to get a little tedious for the adults. Children tend to give up on it after the first 5 years.
The other major event, if it doesn't rain, is the Prom in Park where again there are children's activities throughout the day and then a concert in the evening. On a good day the park is packed with picnicers, some of whom bring their own picnic tables and chairs to watch the concert. Some make a party of it and bring their own wine or champagne. Booze is also on sale in plastic cups at hugely inflated prices. Presumably the consumption of alcohol and the use of the copse at these events is in breach of the Borough's PSPO (public space protection order) but nobody, least of the all the council, seems to care. Slightly older children tend to love the event for a couple of years as they get to run riot in the dark as the day comes to an end.
Saddly in recent years the Prom has become combined with Armed Forces day, which for some of us creates a sense of unease which spoils the event just a tad.
33 miles lonh, the Grantham Canal was completed in 1797 with the primary purpose to carry coal from Nottingham to Grantham. Just 33 years later the profits of the canal were under threat from the railways. 1850 saw the opening of the Grantham to Nottingham railway and by 1861 the canal fell under the control of the railway company.
A Closure Act was passed in 1936 with the proviso that that a 2 foot level of water must remain. In the 1950s 28 of the bridges over the canal were flattened to facilitate road improvements with the water flow being preserved through concrete pipes. By 1969 with the structure failing the canal became officially “remaindered.
There is now a very active restoration society with ambitions to restore the whole length of the canal to navigability. Meanwhile the stretches of waterway that run through West Bridgford form lush and peaceful habitats spoiled by often difficult and unsightly road crossings.
There are a pair of swans that return to the Grantham Canal in Lady Bay each year to nest. This year (2018) they have produced nine signets. There were 10 eggs but only 9 hatched. I was luck enough to be around at some of the key stages in the nesting and rearing stages and you can click through the images below to see an awful lot of pictures of these elegant fowl.
|I was fascinated to learn that it was cob sitting on the eggs and the pen that sought to drive me away.|
Other common birds on the canal are Coots, Mallard Ducks, Moorhens and Greylag Geese. On a walk from Radcliffe Road to Morrisons you may expect to see them all. On occasion you may also see a Heron. The Heron has been adopted as the symbol of the Lady Bay area of Bridgford.
As a dormitory town to Nottingham City across the River Trent, West Bridgford has never been dependant on it's own resources. The local town shopping centre continues to do well but in recent years high rents and business rates have largely driven out independent retails. The shopping centre is now dominated by chain coffee houses and charity shops. The town centre has three small supermarkets in Marks and Spencer, Iceland and the Co-op. M & S occupies the site of the old Manor House, once a club, more latterly a public house. Part of Bridgford Park was given over to the creation of additional public car park when M&S was built. There are two larger supermarkets, ASDA on Loughborough Road and Morrisons on the Gamston Estate.
Although gone from Central Avenue there are still 3 butchers in West Bridgford, one on Abbey Road another on Melton Road and a third in Edwalton. There is also a fishmonger on Melton Road.
There are a considerable number of businesses and independent tradesmen in West Bridgford and some of them may be found in the Business Directory.
West Bridgford has 10 primary schools, 8 state schools and 2 Christian faith based. and four secondary schools, all now academies, 2 of them, both Christian faith based, primarily serve the City of Nottingham.
Any business, manufacturer, solicitor, retailer, tradesman, educator, carer et can be added to the business directory, the only requirement is that the business must have a business address in West Bridgford. You can added a listing in the appropriate category and or add a page describing your operation. To find a business you can either follow the menus or use the search box to find either business by name or by the services offered. Go to the West Bridgford Business Directory.
Go to the West Bridgford Accommodation Directory
Try the Live and Local listings for performance arts events in West Bridgford. Presentation of the arts at community venues is supported at subsidized rates by Village Ventures. You can pick up a digital copy of the current Village Ventures leaflet at issuu.
The Christmas lights switch on this year was on Saturday 2nd December. The switch on at 5pm is immediately followed by a short fireworks display as it always is, because Rushcliffe Borough Council knows that the best way to celebrate any event within a month of bonfire night, especially at a time of budget cuts, is to burn money to light up the night sky for a few minutes. T'was not a bad display but I do think that the cooperative efforts of the Fulfords and Rileys| Bonfire night in Edward Road on the 5th did it quite out do.
As always the prime purpose of these “entertainments” is to provide shopping opportunities and my cursory patrol around the "Christmas Market" on the croquet lawn was that the standard and variety of vending was a little improved on previous years. My wife says “no” but well, I still think so. Hot mulled wine was being sold on the street (Central Avenue) in greater volumes (per cup) than is usual at this type of thing and at gob smacking prices which is considerably more usual I suppose.
Gordon Square end had the mini kid's ice ring (er perhaps I should say kid's mini ice ring. The children, it was my impression atlleast, were much the usual size. Substantial numbers of celebrants were imbibing on the frontate to the Test Match Inn and there were queues for both Santa's grotto and the Bridgford Chippy which was pleasing to see. (I do like to see queues at chip shops, it is, I always think, the right way to do things and I have an especial soft spot for the Bridgford Chippy since they desisted from taking up vital chip room in the now almost universal take away box with the mushy peas carton, and also because they went to such efforts to restore dandelion and burdock to the soft drinks menu.
Every year there is a bizarre ritual in Bridge Fields. At the beginning of October caravans start arriving and parking near the old railway embankment. Within a couple of days fair ground rides start arriving and are set up ready for the official opening on Thursday evening. The fair opens for a few hours each day until the following Sunday when it starts packing up again. A tiny handful of people go. Fun fairs I suspect are not generally popular among the burghers of Bridgford and the few that are interested will be visiting Nottingham's Goose Fair which runs over the same dates. It must make a substantial loss I would think and it puzzles me that the ritual survives although I am oddly pleased that it does.
Food stalls, real ale, kids rides and live music on the croquet lawn, Central Avenue. Seemed pretty good this year (2017) despite some very blustery weather. The chairoplane ride was rather under subscribed when I was there and the big bouncy slide was deflated, probably due to the gusts of winds but a fare few had turned out the music was goodish and folks were enjoying themselves. Beer prices were extortionate, as you might expect where there are low overheads (no staff, no buildings, no rates etc). Beer was £3.50 a pint, cider, being generally a cheaper product, was £4.00 a pint and larger £5.00 a pint. Still anything that reduces the consumption of lager get my vote and I didn't see any one approach the larger part of the sales stand at all.
In line with Rushcliffe's policy on sensible drinking a half pint of beer was considerably more expensive at £2.00 a half. Worked for me. I was going to buy a half but having seen the prices I decided against drinking anything at all. As far as I know no one was pulled up for drinking in a public place.
Dan Walsh is an extraordinary 5 string banjo player and songwriter. He also plays the guitar a bit.
Dan has an amiable, laconic and humorous stile of presentation and easily engages his audience with stories of learning to play the banjo and life on tour interspersed with the inspiration for his songs and details about the 5 string banjo which he teaches us, is very different from the 4 string tenor banjo commonly used in in Irish folk music.
A scintillating set at The All Hallows Community Hall, Pierrepont Road, Lady Bay, West Bridgford. At £10 per head for adults the event was very good value and took place in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere. Tables and chares are placed informally and the audience is invited to “bring a bottle”. Teas and coffee are also served in the interval.
These events are although very good value, are not well publicised, best to get on the Village Venture mailing list or check the website for forthcoming events.
In the last 10 years a lot of restaurants have opened up in Bridgford. Sadly most of them are instances of chains.
The primary objective is profit and as far as I know, few of them are dedicated independents driven by a love of food. The emphasis is on style and ambiance. The ubiquitous “boil in bag” product is bland at best and sometimes as with the Mud Crab industries' populist and surprisingly popular offering , downright terrible. Escabeche Tapas Bar and Restaurant stands out as a genuine independent that wants to stay that way.
The takeaways are not much better. I used to think that the chief reason for opening as a takeway was to avoid the overheads of running a restaurant and thus substantially cutting costs. Well maybe it still is but the saving in Bridgford does not appear to be passed on to the customer. A takeaway in Bridgford is often equally as expensive a restaurant and considerably dearer than eating in a Pub. If your looking for a quick cheap takeaway style meal, Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese or Thai and have access to a microwave, Iceland is probably a better option (the shop, not the country, I have no idea what takeways charge in Iceland). If you want something of considerably higher quality, The excellent Cook providing heat it your self, quality frozen takeaway food at around £12 per head, is probably the best option.
West Bridgford Sports Directory. Nottingham Forest's City Ground, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club's Trent Bridge Test and County Cricket Ground, The National Water Sports Centre, at Holme Pierrepont and Nottingham Rugby Club at the old Boot's sports ground (now apparently called “The Bay” although not by anyone that I know) are just the tip of the iceberg. West Bridgford has an astonishing array of sports facilities. Add your club or association to the sports directory.
The number of cubs, scout, brownie and girl guide troops in West Bridgford has it appears declined significantly since 2013 but there are still a handfull. There is also a Boys Brigade still listed at St Giles but no Woodcraft Folk.
Nottingham City Transport
Parking is a major issue in many parts of West Bridgford. In the streets between Musters Road and Loughborough Road the parking situation is so bad it is sometimes difficult to even drive down the road as there is insufficient room for two cars to pass between the parked vehicles.
In the streets between Bridgford Park and Radcliffe Road the conflict is not just between residents competing for space. There are also would-be shoppers seeking to avoid the charges on the official car parks who cruise the streets behind the park looking for spaces. The problem is compounded on match days when there are also football supporters looking for free parking within walking distance of Nottingham Forest's City Ground. The football fans are at least, only likely to block access for residents for an afternoon whereas the cricket fans will leave their cars outside your home for anything up to 5 days during a test match while they stay with friends or use the local guest houses and hotels.
When Rushcliffe Borough Council introduced night time parking charges in the Library, Nursery and Gordan Rd car parks, they ensured that the workers in the night time economy, which has boomed in the last ten years, would stop using them for the duration of their shifts and take to parking in the local streets as well. Who can blame them, when your working a shift on little more than minimum wages who would want their earning instantly reduced by parking charges.
A few years ago the residents of Edward, Crosby, Ella, Trevelyan and Mabel Grove were given the option of voting for a residents parking scheme. The initial results were in favour but then a campaign by a contingent of the bread and lard islanders led to the decision being over turned before implementation had taken place. In response dozens of residents have removed their front garden walls, paved over their gardens and had crossovers put in. One of the objectives of this investment is to reserve the space outside their homes as it is illegal to park in such a way as to block access to a crossover. The residents are safe in the knowledge that if they do park in such a fashion, that no one is likely to complain to the police and that if they do the police would take no action anyway so long as no car was trapped on the hard standing and unable to leave. Some suggest that the paving over of the front gardens causes substantial ecological damage and increases the flood risk significantly.
The decline of public sensibility in West Bridgford has been noticeable in the last couple of years. We now have residents parking across the pavement a la Citizen Khan, even when they have sufficient hard standing on their property. For several years now it has been an irritant that selfish parking causing inconvenience and risk to their neighbours by leaving cars jutting out onto the pavement but now, ordinary middle class families feel that their own convenience is of such paramount importance that they will park fully across the pavement with their second or third cars perpendicular to them on the road. This forces the elderly, infirm, mothers with push chairs and school children out into the middle of the road to get by. It is dreadful to think what social attitudes their children will be growing up with. Thirty years ago while working for Community Transport in Harlesden in London, I participated in the making of short TV programme highlighting the problem of parking half on the pavement and blocking wheelchair user access. Campaigns to create parking bays and to clamp down on selfish parking were spreading across the London Boroughs. Then when I visited home I thought one of the benefits of provincial life was that at least in middle class areas this wouldn't happen. How wrong I was.