Friday, 28 July 2017

From a 'beach' in Beeston to Dunkirk in four hours ten minutes

This post has minimal text, just captions as brief as I can make them. Anyone who knows me well will know that brevity does not come easy to me. This post is all about the pictures. At the end you will find a map of the route my walk followed.

'Beeston-on-Sands' has taken over the abandoned town bus station for the duration of the school holidays.  

Excluding Smith's, which sells new books, there is only Oxfam which sells second-hand books...

... 'Book Land' which sells remaindered books, now, as the sign says, either for £1 or £2. Most of the charity shops have small book sections, even the supermarkets now provide racking where customers can leave or pick up a book.

I bought Nottingham Transformed for £2. When published in 2006 the book cost £24.95. Its full of great photographs of Nottingham past and present as well as drawings of proposed future developments at the time of publication. Most of these aspirational visions of the city lost out to the financial crash.

The Sewing Box which is housed on Willoughby Street behind Barnsdales the Butchers, is now selling fabric. Mike Barnes, the owner, was just setting up his outside stall when he got his first customer...

...quickly followed by another. You can find The Sewing Box on my Beeston Vertical map.

Gourmet Delights closed on 2nd December last year. I did a blog at the time. It still stands empty.

You have a measure of how hard it is to let retail units on Beeston High Road when an estate agent as good as C P Walker & Son is forced to do this!

Odin's Table came and went in what seems a matter of months. Now it's another empty Beeston shop.

One person who is making a go of it is Lucy at 2 Little Magpies. Whilst have a wander around her lovely little craft and gift shop I came across these toddle 'London Bus' waistcoats. I have asked her to get me a price for a grown-up version.

I wonder how many folk have noticed the new housing going up behind Home Made Bakery?

It is a development by the long established local builder Hofton & Son on their old Roberts Yard site, comprising of a terrace of ten house. Visit their website to learn more. At £195,000 they are not cheap. Whilst I was taking this photograph Susan and I were invited to have a look around one of the houses. We wanted them to impress but they didn't.

What we did see from the Roberts Yard was the back of a development at the Broadgate end of Marlborough Road, where an old retail unit looks like it's being transformed into housing. The bamboo and fatsia look like they have been there forever.

Susan and I stopped at The Coffee House for a light lunch. It was until recently Mason & Mason, but has been 're-branded' by the owners. It is a cafe we have been visiting since it first opened in 2011. They do lovely salads and have a brunch menu that goes on into the afternoon. It was about 1pm when we sat down to Eggs Benedict and Egg Royale. They really do do a perfect poached egg.

After lunch Susan left me and I began my wander along Broadgate towards Dunkirk. This road sign at the junction of Broadgate and Broadgate Avenue remains in view thanks to the houseowner who trims his hedge to ensure passers by can still see the sign.

And its ditto for Peveril Road.

Along this stretch of Broadgate is a boundary marker dated 1933. To the left it is Beeston (now Broxtowe) and to the right the City of Nottingham (Lenton).
A part of me is loath to share the picture for fear of someone stealing it, but it's worth looking for

The Salthouse Lane road sign has no diligent householder to attend it, so in the absence of City Council care it has been lost from view (well almost)!

I like all my walks to have a bus nearby just in case I get tired or it begins to rain. In this case a Trent-Barton Indigo bus. Its driver has just let off a lady carrying two shopping bags and about to turn into Salthouse Lane. Perhaps she has been to Chilwell Retail Park (M&S Food) or Long Eaton Market rather than Beeston town centre? Someone said once that 'A bus is a community on wheels where people get to know one another and lives get exchanged'

Just beyond the bus is this row of lovely houses with pollarded trees.

At the University end of Broadgate another hidden road sign.

This entrance to part of Nottingham University has to be the best. To see it walk straight across from Broadgate and past the University's controlled west entrance and it's just don on the right.

A very different view of the University from Jubilee Avenue. Behind you is Florence Boot Hall. A few yards to the right and you are walking into Highfields Park.

The waterfall in Highfields Park is not always turned on, but it was last Tuesday. Back in the 1980s and into the 1990s all this was clean enough for me, my children and grandchildren to paddle in. Lack of care and maintenance as the City Council had to deal with budget cuts imposed by central government have seen it silt up...

...Now it's dogs who have all the fun. Off camera a little girl is crying because she can't join the dog!

I have included this picture as large as I can so that in the distance you can see a tram gliding by on a section of reserved track. Between the tram and the park is University Boulevard.

This is part of the footpath which hugs the north side of Highfields lake.

I wait to cross East Drive on the University Campus and into the Lakeside Arts Centre as a City Transport 34 bus goes by. The students have gone and it's coming up to 3.30pm but the bus has quite a few passengers. NCT have worked hard over many years to establish this route, so it is disappointing to see in County Council's August 2017 list of bus service changes that from September the 34 will run during term times only. 

Inside the Arts Centre a dinosaur grabs my attention. It's a free spinoff off the dinosaur exhibitiion currently on in Wollaton Hall.

To read the signage telling you more about the dinosaur, click on the image to enlarge.

In the Art Centre's cafe I sit for awhile sipping my Dandelion & Burdock (no ice) and catch a tram passing by. There can't be many better places to sit if you want to watch trams go by.

Outside I catch this pic of a tram as it glides past the Arts Centre on its way to Nottingham City Centre, Bulwell and Hucknall.

Then I crossed University Boulevard (or is it Beeston Road at this point?) and caught sight of the footpath beside Tottlebrook, which takes me to Dunkirk and my destination, a car repair bodyshop beside Beeston Cut, where I am having a dent and some scratches (of my own making) removed from our car.

Along sections I have to brush the blackberries away which dangle in front of me. I eat a good few as I go.

The footpath and Tottlebrook bend just before I reach Dunkirk. Not a sound apart from the brook and the birds which seem to occupy every tree and bush. 

Then I burst out onto Montpelier Road at its junction with Claude Street. Not quite a war zone, but look to the right (see pic below) as well and you can be forgiven for thinking that parts of Dunkirk are in need of attention and restoration.

As far as I'm concerned landlords, the University and the City Council are responsible, but a good few of what remaining locals there are blame 'students'.
Dunkirk housing stock is c.80% student housing and it forms part of historic Lenton — hence the City Council ward name, Dunkirk and Lenton (which I can say Susan and I are truly responsible for).

The arguments which rage around Brexit mirror the arguments which have raged around university expansion and accommodation since the 1980s. The incomers are blamed — not those who encouraged them to come in the first place, then failed to provide accommodation and the extra services and facilities needed to manage more people.

There are some lovely Victorian semis and terraces in Dunkirk, a good few of which are adorned with ceramic tiles like these. All different, put together by workman as it took their fancy on the day. I'm sure there is a dissertation on them waiting to researched and published.

My very last picture, and bleak as it appears, is my favourite. The end of Montplelier Road. To the left of this pic is a low railway bridge, as grubby as this broken window and broken panes of glass. Dunkirk gets more depressing every visit I make. Those who hang on, working to keep what community that's left alive are local heroes. Once I was one of them. Not any more. I imagine an independent Dunkirk, in charge of its own destiny (as I do every neighbourhood).


  1. I like how Beeston always looks lively and happy in your shots. Love the little beach set up.

  2. I asked the ward Councillor for Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey (who is very conscientious) about the silted up paddling Pool at Highfields a year or so ago - I assume this is the same area you mention. I was informed that the brook that feeds it has some level of pollutant in it (presumably fairly minor or there would no doubt be warning notices) and thus it is not good to encourage paddling in. I can only assume this is accurate info.
    Dan L

  3. The paddling went a good few years back when the bottom was layered with straw-like bundles, then reeds planted so that it could filter Tottlebrook which had become full of oil slicks. The dog in my picture is at the west end of Highfields lake between the stepping stones and the waterfall — which was where my kids, grand-kids and me paddled on hot summer days before it became silted up. You could watch the tiddlers swimming round your feet. I look forward to doing it again after the present Lottery clean-up is complete.