Fothergill Watson (aka Watson Fothergill) is a much celebrated figure from Victorian Nottingham, and rightly so. His buildings are bold, startling, and eye-catching, and frequently adorned with striking reliefs and sculptures. One of my favourite Fothergill buildings is one of his less celebrated. It’s Station Buildings on Lower Parliament Street, which is dated 1896. You get a good view of it when you leave Victoria Centre via the footbridge. It’s over on the right, a red brick building housing Lloyds Bank. I love the elevated view we get from the footbridge. There aren’t many places in Nottingham where you can glimpse a building in this way; on the ground level, from Clinton Street West and Lower Parliament Street, then close-up but elevated from the bridge. There’s often talk of knocking down the bridge and I always hope it won’t happen, mainly because of the view we’d lose of Station Buildings. The name of the building comes from the days of Victoria Station. The strange and lonely southern portion of the shopping centre, clad in dark bricks, and seemingly too enormous for the few shops it houses/housed, was once the southern cutting of Victoria Station. There’s a little image accompanying this post for the more visually-minded showing Fothergill’s building in relation to the cutting. Its upper reaches would have provided a view of trains plunging into the entrance of the tunnel that ran directly under Thurland Street and out to Weekday Cross. These trains would undoubtedly have rattled the bookshelves and ink pots of those in Station Buildings.
On the north face of the building are reliefs showing scenes of work, toil & industry. A relief is a sculpture carved onto a surface, such as the queen’s head on a coin. I’ve read the scenes relate to the growing, processing and trading of sugar beet. This involves people from diverse ethnicities trading and working together; a nicely prophetic idea, given how cosmopolitan our country and county were to become.
The eastern elevation of Station Buildings features decorative tiling that lend an otherwise bland and modern street some much-needed character. The colour of the tiles seems remarkably vivid, and I assume at some points in the past they have had the grime of Victorian steam trains washed away.
Next time you’re visiting the cash points at Lloyds bank, awaiting your bus home, leaving Boots or walking over the footbridge, give Station Buildings a bit of your time. It’s not as grand or ostentatious as other Fothergill creations, but still oozes class, character, and history.