Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Drury Hill - Its History

Drury Hill, was the quaintest street in England, but protesters failed in their bid to stop it being demolished to make way for the entrance to the new Broad Marsh Shopping Centre. 

Drury Hill

Leading from Low-pavement to Sussex-street, was called Vault-lane because of the fame of the huge rock cellars underneath the house at its juncture with Low-pavement.

Later, it was called Parkyn-lane, probably after some member of the Parkyn family of Bunny.

It got its present name about 1620, and it has nothing whatever to do with Drury Lane in London.

About that time one of the leading figures in Nottingham was a certain Alderman Drury, a wealthy cordwainer (a shoemaker or worker in cordovan leather). He occupied Vault Hall, the house just mentioned, and from him the street derives its modern name.

It is a very old thoroughfare. Originally, Nottingham stood round about St. Mary’s Church. There was no Arkwright-street, and the only access to the town was along the track of what is now London-road.

The traffic had to get up the precipice as best it could, first by Malin-hill and Long Stairs and then by Hollow Stone. The town grew, and it was found easier to bring the traffic along Narrow-marsh and up the much less severe gradient of Drury Hill, and this line consequently became the chief business thoroughfare of the town.

In the Seventeenth Century when wheeled traffic began to come into general use and to replace horseborne traffic, it was found that this ancient roadway was too narrow to deal with the cumbrous vehicles of the times, and so Hollow Stone was taken seriously in hand, its gradient eased, and it was turned into a principal entrance to the town.

Drury Hill, with its narrowness and congestion, and its curious haphazard buildings, gives us some idea of the appearance of Tudor Nottingham.

Opposite Bridlesmith Gate is one of the entrances to a construction of the 1960s and 70s - the Broadmarsh Centre. During the construction of this shopping mall many old buildings were demolished and the old mediaeval thoroughfare of Drury Hill was also lost, although the name plate for the street can still be seen just right of centre in this image. Drury Hill was a steep and narrow descent that I remember walking down to the old bus station when I worked in the city in the mid 1960s
How the entrance was in 1967

The Postern Gate was situated at the corner of Drury Hill and The Pavement.
Built just prior to the English Civil War

Note lack of Big Issue sellers, muggers, yobs and traffic? - Heaven!

A wet day in Nottingham... and no one in sight?

Slightly better quality shot of folks coming up the Hill
No for sale or rent signs either like today!

1967 - Note the Ford Anglia, Ford Popular, Vauxhall Victor...
but what make of car is the one at the far end?
Please let me know if you can work it out please!

As you enter today, what was the entrance to Drury Hill, you see closed down and boarded up retail untis on both sides of you, and all the way down into the centre itself. Sad!

As I was leaving the Broad Marsh Centre, where once stood several retail stalls in the walkway, now abandoned, I found Dave doing his bit for the Forces - dropped some cash in his bucket, and thanked him.


  1. i remember going up Druryhill every day in the mid sixties,there was a lovely little coffee shop upstairs in one shop on the left half way up, we used everyday thought it was very cool.I worked in the lace market and walked from the meadows . I was 15 years old and worked 40 hours for 5 pounds aweek and tipped up 3 pounds of that to my mum for living at home .so sad it gone forever xx Lynda Price was Stevenson

    1. Hi, Long shot i know but would the shop with the Cafe upstairs be called Coffee and cards ????

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  2. Nice to read of your memories Lynda.
    My first job in !962 when I was 14, was 3 guineas a week £3.3.0.
    Drury Lane should never have been demolished - it could have been a great attraction for tourists now.
    TTFN Take care.