Nottingham The Postcard Collection by Alan Spree
Whilst researching information for my John Henry Spree`s Nottinghamshire book, published by Amberley in September 2018, I came across many postcards of Nottingham that I found interesting so I embarked on a personal project of putting together a Nottingham Postcard Collection book.
I now live in Spain, a long way from where I was born but part of me is forever in Nottingham. Maybe not the most glamorous city in the world but it shaped the way I am. Of course Robin Hood, Players Cigarettes, Raleigh Bicycles, Boots the Chemist, Wollaton Hall, the Council House, the Castle, the River Trent, Goose Fair and the Coal mining industry were all in some way part of my early education. Goose Fair, Bonfire Night and Christmas were the times that I most looked forward to.
I was very lucky that as a child we lived in a council house in Bilborough on Glaisdale Drive which in those days was opposite fields and woods. An Improvised football pitch was made on one part of the fields but this was generally used by the older boys so the youngsters played on the green just down the road from where we lived. The ‘No Playing of Games’ sign was used as one of the goal posts and a coat as the other. Of course the provider of the ball had first choice when picking the teams.
The woods were an endless source of entertainment, we built dens, made weapons such as slingshot catapults and bows and arrows and at that time when it was socially acceptable we collected bird’s eggs and used our Observer Book to identify them.
As we grew older, we explored further afield and took the short walk through the woods to a railway line to do some train spotting from the bridge using our latest edition of the ABC British Locomotives, London Midland Scottish book to record our sightings. It was also close to the Wollaton Section of the Nottingham Canal where learning about nature was part and parcel of growing up. Although at the time it was just finding newts, getting frogspawn, sword fighting with bull rushes and the occasional dip in water, and once not intentionally. My parents had warned me about the dangers of the canal and so when I fell in I had to make quite an effort to get my clothes dry before returning home. The section of the canal we mainly frequented was around the bridge on the Old Coach Road which was near to Wollaton Colliery. Occasionally we would manage to get onto the slag heaps at the colliery and pick through it to collect bits of coal which were piled into an old pram to take home.
My final year in Nottingham, at the age of fourteen, was the first time that I had a girlfriend and how could I ever forget the day that Forest beat Luton Town in the 1959 FA Cup Final. I managed to go to some of the earlier rounds of the cup but not to Wembley. We did however watch it on television.
Everyone went to school on Monday proudly wearing their red and white, the homecoming was scheduled for about 3 o’clock at the Council House. Even Mr Unwin, the Headmaster of Glaisdale Bilateral School, joined in with the spirit of things and gave us the afternoon off to go and welcome the team home. A friend and I had to wait for a couple of full buses to go by before we managed to get on one. The streets in town were a seething mass of red and white but we managed to work our way to the Council House just in time to see the open top bus arrive with Jack Burkett holding the cup aloft. We cheered and sang until we were hoarse, there seemed to be nothing like your team winning the FA Cup.
I felt that I had to set boundaries and timescales for my collection of postcards, so I decided to do that in accordance with the city as I knew through childhood until we moved to Portsmouth in 1959. It covers many of the places that the family visited on days out and brings back many happy memories. As well as the postcard collection the book includes a short history of Nottingham and its boundary changes. I also took the opportunity to include more recently obtained postcards by my great grandfather as well as the collection from other publishers.
The collection of postcards therefore covers the period from the late 1800s to the mid 1950s with the majority of the images taken in the period from 1900 to 1940. The area covered is that of the Nottingham City Boundary as extended in 1951. Some of the postcards featured in the book are shown here with information about the image but not to the same detail as in the book captions.
In later years I visited the city many times and explored those places I remembered as a child and some that I had not been to before. Many of the places had changed and some not for the better but the city is still a place dear in my heart.
Alan Spree's book Nottingham The Postcard Collection is available for purchase now.