Since I developed an interest in Nottingham history, I’ve learned to pay attention to short streets. Rather than having been built short, they usually indicate a change or development in the footprint of the surrounding area over time. Newcastle Street and Clare Street (both off Lower Parliament Street) are good examples. They used to stretch north through the poor neighbourhood beyond but were curtailed firstly when that area was demolished to make way for a train station, and then six or so decades later when Victoria Centre was constructed. Broad Marsh (off Lister Gate) is another. Now it seems to be a service area for the shopping centre that stole its name, but until the 1970s it was an important retail street in its own right, with a grand and impressive Burtons store dominating its western end.
In my day-to-day life I often pass Alfred Street South, between Stone Bridge Road and Carlton Road. As we all do with streets we frequent, I didn’t think much about it. One day, though, I was doing some research on another element of local history and I blundered upon the fact that Alfred Street used to connect Carlton Road, St Anns Well Road, and Mansfield Road. I took a walk up Mansfield Road and found Alfred Street North, Alfred Close, and Alfred Street Central. I realised that I had always known of these streets and glimpsed their signs many times, but had never made a connection with the fairly anonymous and slightly ramshackle southern portion. I consulted the amazing Insight Mapping website (click here when you have several hours to immerse yourself in historical maps of the city and suburbs) and found these fragments were once one huge thoroughfare, connecting three important Nottingham roads and linking neighbourhoods I’d always thought of as being very disparate. It looks densely populated, and that research which led me onto the subject in the first place informed me that there were many shops peppered along its length.
I’ve included an edit of these maps below. The old map is circa 1880, whilst the modern map is 2015. I’ve indicated the ends of Alfred Street with red dots on each. Things have to change over time, of course. We’d still be dwelling in caves and brandishing spears if they didn’t, but I enjoy noticing these little clues to the past. It seems odd walking alone along an almost deserted Alfred Street South now, and imaging what noise and bustle there must have been in the area in the past.