What’s New

2021 update: Following the sad loss of our friend Chris Richardson in 2020, this website will continue to be maintained for the foreseeable future, but will no longer be updated. Please keep an eye on the blog/website of the People’s Histreh group instead.

What’s New:

A few changes and additions to what you will find in the book. Page numbers in brackets refer to references in the book ‘A City of Light: Socialism, Chartism and Co-operation – Nottingham 1844’.

 Where was the Democratic Chapel?

Gothic House

Gothic House

The location of the Democratic Chapel given, speculatively, in the book gave rise to an exchange of emails in August 2014 with Paul D, and led to some detailed scrutiny of maps and street directories. My own opinion remains that it was probably in or near the Salem Chapel although ‘contrary indications’ (page 123) remain. However, I now believe that the Salem Chapel was on the site of what is currently known as Gothic House, and not alongside it where the two storey building with the inscription ‘1874’ stands.

Site of the Salem Chapel

Site of the Salem Chapel

Salmon’s map of 1862 shows the square building on the north side of Barker Gate with the burial ground at the side and rear marked ‘Salem Chapel’ and the Stavely & Wood map of 1831 (shown here) shows a smaller rectangular building within the same boundary wall as the Salem Chapel, which might conceivably have been rented out by the New Testament Disciples to the Chartists whilst the Disciples continued to use the chapel itself. Street directories show the building in use as a private school in later years.

James and Martha Sweet’s house:

Site of the Sweets' house

Site of the Sweets’ house

The location of the last abode of these two veteran Chartists in Broad Street was given (on the Secular Walk 2013) as being on a plot of land adjacent to the Newmarket Inn. This was later found to be incorrect. Their last home was at 21/23 Broad Street at the corner of Lenton Street (a correction made clear on the Chartist Walk 2014).

Interestingly, the whole narrow piece of land from Broad Street to George Street, was said by Robert Mellors in Old Nottingham Suburbs (1912) to have been the site of houses built by a  co-operative of framework knitters. If James Sweet was aware of this, he would have been pleased, as he was a pioneer of provision store and workers’ productive co-operatives himself.

The Seven Stars:

Site of the Seven Stars

Site of the Seven Stars

This public house was once a radical meeting place of framework knitters, where Operatives’ Library No. 2 was set up in 1837 (page 113), and where the Operatives’ Hall Society and the Chartist Land Company met.

There was a photograph of the Seven Stars before its demolition in the late 1960s in J J Rowley’s dissertation on Drink and Temperance in 1974. It was seen by Christopher while researching for the book, but in 2013 it was destroyed along with other ‘old’ disserations in an act of academic vandalism by Leicester University Victorian Studies Centre.

This photograph shows the site of the Seven Stars at the junction of Barker Gate and Maiden Lane.

 The Birthplace of Co-operation in England – Blidworth:

The New Inn, Blidworth

The New Inn

What, not Rochdale 1844? Well, so far the revelation that Blidworth should claim the honour has rocked neither Rochdale nor Blidworth, but insider information tells us that a banner should soon appear on the old Midland Railway bridge at Blidworth announcing ‘Blidworth the birthplace of Co-operation.’

This photograph of the Blue Ball Inn – where the Blue Ball Club was founded – later the Crispin Arms, and later still the New Inn, is shown here before demolition.

The Durham Ox:

The Durham Ox, Pelham Street

The Durham Ox, Pelham Street

The Durham Ox stood on the site of what is today the Bodega. A glimpse down the alley at the side suggests that the Bodega was built on the same foundations as its predecessor. This illustration of the Durham Ox was made around 1900 before demolition.

The Durham Ox was a favourite meeting place of Nottingham radicals, and it was here in 1838 that Robert Buchanan, Social Missionary, came to address a meeting which established the first socialist branch in the town (page 34).

The Durham Ox was previously the Sun Inn, a meeting place of lacemakers, and of democrats who supported Thomas Paine in the late 18th century.

The Temperance Hall:

The proposed Temperance Hall

The proposed Temperance Hall

This was never built but detailed plans were drawn up, as shown here, for the Nottingham Christian Temperance Society. The eventual outcome of the campaign for a Temperance Hall was the People’s Hall, opened in 1854. The manager appointed to run it was Mr J B Wright, who had revived the call for a Temperance Hall at the annual dinner of the Society the previous year (page 130).

James Sweet, Chartist, was at one time associated with the People’s Hall but it never satisfactorily met the demands of those who had been active in the campaign for an Operatives’ Hall, and it struggled to attract users. It could be said that the aim of opening an Operatives Hall was not achieved until the middle of the 20th century when the Nottingham Trades Council opened the Trades Hall in Thurland Street in the former Corn Exchange.

Susannah Wright:

St. Peter's Church, Kennington

St. Peter’s Church, Kennington in 2015

An almost forgotten  Nottingham woman, Susannah Wright (page 73), has now been given recognition for her services and sacrifices to the cause of free thought and free expression by the Nottingham Writers’ Studio.  Arising from James Walker’s interview with Christopher Richardson published in Left Lion, the Studio has named one of its meeting rooms ‘The Susannah Wright Room’.

Susannah and her family seem to disappear in late 1826, with no records in the parish registers, BD&M registers after 1837, or census records from 1841 onwards. The discovery of a death of a Susannah Wright in Kennington in 1854 suggested that she might have returned to the area of London where she was married (at St Peter’s Church) in 1815 but this hope was dashed on further investigation. Any information on Susannah Wright and her children would be much appreciated: acityoflight [at] phonecoop.coop

Women members of the Chartist Land Company:

A list of the occupations of 113 Nottinghamshire women members of the Chartist National Land Company is given in Appendix 2 (page 220) of ‘A City of Light …’ .

This is a list of those women, with their occupations and addresses, as recorded in the original Registers at the National Archives: Notts Women members of Land Company.