If my mum’s parents were still alive, they would have celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary this year (assuming they hadn’t divorced). They married at St Ann’s Church on St Ann’s Well Road in 1936.
St Ann’s is one of the many lost churches of Nottingham. It stood on the northern side of St Ann’s Well Road, a short distance from the entrance to Robin Hood Chase. On Picture The Past there’s a nice photograph of the church from around 1910. On the left of the image are some railings, and the entrance to Robin Hood Chase. Beyond the railings, a number of tall trees grow. There seems to be a group of three or so people walking up the Chase. There are four people in the centre of the picture, on or near the pavement. One of them may be riding a bike towards town, while the others are headed up St Ann’s Well Rd. One of them – a woman, I think – has paused at the corner of the now vanished Corporation Rd and looks back down St Ann’s Well Road.
The church is visible beyond the turning for Corporation Road. It seems a tall, striking building, and would doubtless have been central to the heart of the community in a time when organised religion played a more pivotal role than today. Two whitewashed gateposts are visible, flanking an entrance to the church grounds. A blurred figure crosses the cobbled road, and behind them a tram is visible. There are three (or maybe four) figures walking along the pavement by the church.
I went out earlier today and took an image of the modern scene. It was a grey but pleasant morning around 7am. The entrance to Robin Hood’s Chase is largely unchanged from the 1910 picture. The pavement outside the Chase entrance has been modified to make a crossing giving pedestrians priority when trying to traverse what can become a busy road later in the day. The trees of course are thriving, and in the colour picture look so much more alive than the grey representations of their earlier selves. Corporation Road and St Ann’s Church are no more, and the areas they occupied are now paved land leading to a relatively new building housing a Post Office and One Stop shop with residential flats above. You often hear people moaning about the closure of suburban Post Offices but not much is said when a new one opens. The skyline of the modern scene is far shorter than the image of yesteryear, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of picture comparisons. Beyond the shop is the St Ann’s Valley Centre, a combination of library, open access computers, and NHS services.
As much as I love pictures of the past, I don’t want the world to remain unchanged in any particular time. I appreciate that cities and their suburbs need to shift and evolve, but I enjoy noting the changes. People were married and christened at St Ann’s Church, some of whom may be alive today. Others may have benefited from a collection for the local needy, or found words of inspiration or enlightenment in a particular sermon. I suspect my grandparents were married there as my granddad’s family were very local to the church, living on either Northampton or Southampton Street depending on whose information you listen to (or maybe different elements of the family lived on both).
St Ann’s is much derided, especially because of the new housing and street plan that was stamped onto the area in the 1960s, but in truth it’s an area with a rich and diverse history. I’m certain your neck of the woods will be similar. Nottingham and the surrounding shire aren’t new settlements, and I’d wager there’s a rich social history underpinning all of our local neighbourhoods.