You may have felt a sense of things moving along the banks of the River Trent and you’d be right. The first phase of the Waterside development finished in April 2016 and there’s a real feeling that it’s being connected by history, goodwill and a desire to tell different stories.
Environmentalist, historian and former Nottingham Post staff journalist Mark Patterson has produced a really rich insight into the people, places and history of the Trent Basin for Blueprint, the local partnership developer of environmental homes and workspaces.
Public works built the two warehouses on the Trent Basin that contained all the trade that to and fro’d from Nottingham to Hull starting in May 1933.
Below is the plan of the warehouses built in 1933, demolished in 2012 by the Homes and Communities Agency that have formed the first phase of the new Blueprint plan for waterside living, commuting and working in the 21st century on the River Trent.
Connecting City Life and Waterside Mark Patterson Page 6
In Warehouses 1 and 2, Cadburys and Frys stored their cocoa, Hobson and Bampton, Sons and Knight stored Timber here. Raleigh bikes, Players cigarettes, dredged Trent grit, wheat, bagged flour, concrete, timber, paper, wire coils, bone meal, Finnish wood pulp, Norwegian ferro-silicon and Dutch strawboard, as well as tomatoes, fish and coconuts for funfairs…..’ to’d and fro’d down to the Humber along the Trent Basin, Connecting City Life and Waterside Living p11 By Mark Patterson
Connecting City Life and Waterside Living by Mark Patterson P6
Mark talks about the two warehouses in a very interesting way. He first came across them walking, cycling and running along the river, thought they looked like concrete relics of Stalingrad, wondered what they were and found them again through journalist work, in Jenny Syson’s Hinterland Project in 2008 where Helena Jonsdottir’s film of Reykjavik handyman Birgir dancing around glacial lakes ‘provided a portal to the common wilderness of Iceland’. Jennie’s canniness was to project this onto one of the derelict warehouses.
Connecting City Life and Waterside Living p26
Image courtesy of Left Lion May 15th 2013 Image David Perry Photographer/Designer
Mark says the book is a shaping narrative to give the whole of the new site some depth. Also a nice gift to the people who will move in. I think he’s written the story that could create new images that are much richer than the usual kind of marketing.
What the book is really about though, is landscape, history and people. Talking to Mark I think about the landscape work of Martyn Williams, local West Bridgford photographer, Martyn works with local settings and images to give a much broader connection to the history of a place. Artists, like detectives, of space, place and time.
The story traces the history of trade in Nottingham from roman times till 1980s when the Trent Depot closed. It was an overlooked part of city’s history of the people who’d worked on the Hull Trade. The story in the Blueprint booklet could become a book that sets the record straight. Mark did an interview with Alan Robey, who grew up in Clifton on Radio Nottingham about the story of the Trent Basin earlier this week.
You can hear his questions. ‘Why has it disappeared… (think of the pollution now, HGVs, traffic accidents). Why have we lost that artery of trade? Short sighted views? John Prescott wanted to renew the canals, the heritage societies have created working railways and museums
I get the feeling that the parent environmentalist takes the journalist forward into new ground and this is the motivation behind Mark’s research and publication of two books on Roman Nottinghamshire and Roman Derbyshire (really interesting, conversational history packed with facts that make you think: ‘So that was how the Romans distributed their authority! Or not!) The books are published by Five Leaves Press 2011, 2012 and 2016)
On the Waterfront homes have been built by Wilmott Dixon and it’s called simply: Trent Basin. It’s a vision though that’s come from the dynamic Blueprint.
Blueprint has evolved out of a fearless approach to living and working innovation: an Igloo and Nottingham City as well as County council and Rushcliffe council vision that will draw in further community and retail innovation, undoubtedly. It will also enable first time buyers to tap into government assistance for home purchase (5% deposit, government low interest loan for 20% and 75% mortgages)
The Blueprint partnership and collaboration as well as the hard working estate agents Royston and Lund and FHP are bringing a new era of community, connection and accountability not just to this generation but to the generations who made it all possible.
The river knows this, the river knows everything.