In the summer of 2019, Gedling Borough Council Parks Department contacted Haywood Road Community Association and asked if they would provide the text and images for a history board to be sited on Haywood Road Green. Steering group members Rachael Long and Paul Drury collaborated with local historian Bob Massey and produced the following – an edited version (due to limited space on the board!) can be found on the Green but here is the full text:
Section 1: Mapperley gets its name
The land that became the present day Mapperley was part of Sherwood forest, being mainly elevated scrubland. Sections of this land came into the possession of various landowners as part of their holdings in the area.
One who inherited a chunk of these lands in the early 1300s was William Holt. He was born in the village of Mapperley in Derbyshire, the son of Thomas Holt Senior, a successful lawyer with extensive estates in the Derbyshire area. Thomas Junior inherited a large amount of land in Nottingham, which included those which he named ‘Mapperley Closes’ after his home village (a ‘close’ is an area of uncultivated scrub or grazing land). William moved from Derbyshire to his lands in Nottingham and embraced life in this new town, changing his name from Holt to de Mapperley to reflect the place where he was born and brought up. The area then became known as Mapperley Plains or the Plains (another name for a Ridge). So Mapperley in Nottingham is named after the village of Mapperley in Derbyshire and its original land owner.
In the 18th and early 19th century, making the climb up to Mapperley was a popular way to escape the city
Section 2: Mapperley develops
Mapperley is the highest point in the area, set on top of a ridge, making it difficult for people to reach due to steep hills. The result was that it was not occupied for many centuries, except by forest keepers and the odd farmer, though those who did brave the ascent were rewarded with spectacular views over Nottingham. As the population of the city grew, people would often climb the track that is now Woodborough Road on a Sunday to spend time in the countryside.
Mapperley owes its present stature to two things: the overcrowding of Nottingham and brick clay. Mapperley’s clay was easily accessible and ideal for producing good quality bricks. In fact there is evidence that the Romans had used Mapperley clay for some local building projects of their own.
With the start of the industrial revolution, there was huge demand for bricks to build the new factories. The coming of the railways in the 1840s increased the demand for bricks and also provided a means of quickly delivering them to where the building projects were taking place.
Mapperley brickworks circa 1910
Brick making started in a small way on a number of local farms in the area as a side line, but as the demand grew, these brickyards were expanded and the owners moved away from farming to this more profitable work. These early brickworks started to amalgamate and invest in machinery to fulfil the needs of the building boom and eventually were combined into one large commercial company, the Nottingham Patent Brick Company. Bricks are still made in the area by the Ibstock Brick Company at Dorket Head.
Workers cottages were built at Mapperley for those engaged in the brickmaking industry, joining the country houses that the wealthy businessmen of Nottingham had already built in the area to escape the smoke and overcrowding of the city. Soon shops, workshops, pubs, tearooms and other businesses sprung up in the expanding village to service the needs of these new residents. This was the making of the busy town we know today.
The first shop in Mapperley was established in 1904 and situated at 39 Hickling Road, pictured here with proprietor Eliza Ann Smith.
Section 3: The Battle of Mapperley Hills.
On Tuesday 23rd August 1842, about 5000 people assembled on Mapperley Plains near to this spot to hear speakers from the Chartist Movement. It was a peaceful meeting in support of the ‘People’s Charter’, a document presented to Parliament which was calling for political reform. The authorities were concerned that so many were meeting for political purposes, so they sent in the militia to break up the meeting. The crowd had been sitting on the ground eating their lunch and when they refused to disperse, the soldiers rode about the assembled crowd brandishing their swords. The militia arrested 400 (without injury) and escorted them to Nottingham. By next morning, all but 40 had been released without charge. A few of the remaining were charged with unlawful assembly and imprisoned for up to 6 months with hard labour, while the rest were released.
The rights asked for in the Charter, such as universal suffrage and voting by secret ballot, eventually became part of British law. The event was known as the Battle of Mapperley Hills and the anniversary was celebrated for many years as a day when the political system and the rights of the ordinary person started to change in Britain.
Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor was elected as MP for Nottingham in 1847 and a statue of him still stands in The Arboretum in central Nottingham
Section 4: Porchester Gardens
The Porchester Freehold Garden Estate was created in 1887 for local working men wishing to spend their free time in a healthy environment and grow fresh produce for their families.
The Porchester Freehold Garden Estate. Can you spot the original allotment where your house now stands?
Nationally, the demand for allotments was huge. In 1873, there were 244,000 allotments but by 1890 the number had almost doubled to 445,000, reaching a peak during World War One of 1.5 million.
The estate eventually covered an area of 258 acres and roads and mains water were laid. The 832 allotments were allocated by ballot and each plot was 600 or 700 square yards in size and surrounded by a hedge. Does your garden still have a Victorian brick summerhouse?
Some gardens in the area still have a Victorian brick summerhouse, like this one on Porchester Road
In 1889, the Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, inspected the estate, demonstrating the strong Victorian belief that allotment gardening encouraged ‘respectable’ behaviour, notably thrift, sobriety and industriousness. During this visit to Nottingham he announced the ‘controversial’ plan of free education for all.
As the pressure for housing increased, buildings began to spring up and by 1925 there were 400 properties on the estate.
Many of the roads in Porchester Gardens are connected to the original committee members. Samuel Robinson, brother of Sir John Robinson, founder of Home Breweries, was president. His nephew, John Sandford Robinson, an England cricketer, died aged 30, after he fell from a horse. David Whittingham, a solicitor, drew up the legal documents. George Bennett rose from humble beginnings in the brickmaking industry to become an alderman and local magistrate. J.H. Haywood was the treasurer. He was immortalised as ‘Mr Jordan’ in the D.H. Lawrence novel ‘Sons and Lovers’, a short “red-faced, white-whiskered old man” who reminded the novel’s hero “of a Pomeranian dog”.
A view of Kent Road in 1932
Mapperley War Memorial commemorates local men who died in WWI, including James Doubleday, whose family ran a plant nursery on this site
Section 5: The Doubleday Plant Nursery
By the 1950s, many allotment gardens had houses built on them but there were some pockets of green space left.
The Gilbert family ran the beautiful Mapperley Tea Gardens, a popular place to hold wedding receptions and family celebrations. It had a wooden pavilion, an orchard, an aviary and visitors could sit on a huge oak from Wollaton Park blown down in a storm. It stretched from Plains Road to Haywood Road and the site is now occupied by the Co-op supermarket and its large car park.
A map from the 1950s, showing the location of Doubleday’s Plant Nursery, now Haywood Road Green
Several families owned commercial plant nurseries, including the highly successful Robinson’s Nursery on Westdale Lane which specialised in roses and also Vrynhoef’s Nursery on Mapperley Plains.
Mapperley Tea Gardens, which once stood on Plains Road
John and Ada Doubleday ran a plant nursery on Haywood Road. Their son James worked as a gardener there until he enlisted in February 1916. He was serving in the 20th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry when he was killed in action on 18th March 1917. He was buried in Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery in Belgium and his name is commemorated on the Mapperley war memorial at the junction of Plains Road and Woodthorpe Drive. As James was their only child, the Doubledays had no-one to inherit their business so the 11 houses John owned were left to friends and family and their land on Haywood Road was given to local charities including the Nottingham British Legion, the Salvation Army and St Jude’s church. It lay derelict for a number of years before being converted into a bowling green.
An aerial view of Porchester Gardens, with the asylum (latter known as Mapperley hospital) in the foreground
Section 6: Porchester Bowling Club
Between 1961 and 2016, the green was home to Porchester Bowling Club. Open to men and women of all ages, the club won numerous trophies during its 55 years at Haywood Road, including a particularly successful year in 2012, when it was crowned champion of both the Midweek and Saturday leagues and won the Glover Trophy. In its heyday, the club boasted over 100 members and players would often represent Nottinghamshire in national competitions.
The Leafe family in particular have had a long association with the club. Albert Leafe was one of the founders and members of the family continue to bowl for the club at its new home. For many years, the Leafes ran the butcher’s shop at the top of Robinson Road and Albert’s nephew, Reg, refereed the 1955 FA Cup Final and several games at the 1958 World Cup.
Tragedy struck the club on August 25th 1992, when John Straw, aged 55, died on the green, whilst bowling with his son, Kevin.
Though Porchester Bowling Club was forced to leave their home in 2016, they relocated to the Proprietary Bowls Club in central Nottingham and continue to compete in local leagues.
The Porchester Bowling Club Men’s First Team in 2012 (Top row L-R: A. Temnochud; B. Ward; E. Partridge; J. Leafe; C. Garner; J. Coldwell; J. Lucas; C. Whyte; G. Greenwood; P. Knight; R. Chambers; K. Foster. Front row L-R: D. Coldwell; R. Sisson; F. Sisson; P. Davies; J. Coleman; J. Newham)
Section 7: Saving the Green
In 2016, Gedling Borough Council considered proposals to sell both the bowling green and the adjacent Haywood Road Community Centre for a housing development. However, after a hard fought campaign by the local community, the council listened to residents’ concerns and the plans were withdrawn in 2017. The centre was transferred to community ownership and is managed and maintained by a committee of volunteers. Many groups meet at the centre and it is home to a vibrant Preschool, as well as providing a venue for parties and other celebrations.
On the evening of October 10th 2017, over 300 local residents gathered on the Green to oppose the sale of the land and helped to convince councillors to withdraw plans to sell the site
The council retained ownership of the green and in partnership with Haywood Road Community Association, made a successful bid for funding to help turn the former bowling green into the park you are enjoying today. The green has become a focus for community events such as outdoor cinema screenings, silent discos and the Great Get Together, an annual event in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox. A rose was planted on the green for Jo at the inaugural Get Together in 2017.
The annual silent discos on the Green always attract a large crowd
You can keep up to date with events on the green and at the community centre by visiting their social media pages or looking on their noticeboards.
Text and photos provided by Bob Massey, Rachael Long and Paul Drury. Thanks to Gedling Borough Council Parks Department for funding this history board.