A pal tells me that part of the refurbishment plans for Broadmarsh Centre involve demolition. The owners aren’t planning just to spruce up the existing structure, but — largely — to begin anew. The old saying, ‘What goes around, comes around,’ springs to mind. When Broadmarsh Centre was built, large portions of the existing street layout were wiped-out and the footprint of the city irrevocably altered.
I took a screen print of an 1875-85 street map off Insight Mapping and overlayed a plan of Broadmarsh Centre. I’ve added some numbers to help highlight features you’ll probably know to help navigate the old map. (1) is the main entrance on Lister Gate. The building just outside our red boundary labelled ‘Hosiery Works’ is where that small branch of WH Smiths is now. (2) shows the position of the road that gave the shopping centre its name. Broad Marsh was a main street, adorned with shops. You’ll notice a little asterix near the (2). In modern times you can see an old street sign for Broad Marsh roughly at this site on the side of the building that currently houses a Cancer Research shop. (3) is the upper entrance to modern Broadmarsh, a little to the east of olden day Drury Hill, a notoriously narrow and steep street clearly visible on the map. In modern times (4) is the Cliff Road exit from the shopping centre. To the north of the number nowadays are the steps leading up to Nottingham Contemporary, which stands roughly where the building marked ‘Town Hall’ stood. (5) marks the subway that takes you under the busy main road of Colin Street into the bus station (with the multi-storey car park above) which occupies the area bearing the number (6).
From a sentimental point of view, I’ll be sad to see Broadmarsh go. I remember fondly visiting Skills with my parents when I was a kid, and hoping for a plastic sword or bendy skeleton to play with. Sounds weird, I know, but I was a big fan of Jason and the Argonauts. The water wheel by the escalator and the wooden grasshopper and frog were landmarks of my childhood. In my teens, Forbidden Planet on the upper level was a Tardis of superhero and space adventures.
However, individual sentimentality can’t halt the progress of a city. We no longer have the medieval castle atop Castle Rock, which has perhaps desensitised us to architectural pruning. Broadmarsh Centre radically altered the street layout, and now its layout is to be radically altered. I’ll remember the past fondly, but I won’t be shedding any tears. Time moves on.