by Joe Earp
Shakespeare Street in Nottingham is now famous for Nottingham Trent University and the great number of students that walk up and down the Street every day. But the Street has not always been so grand.
The natural position of Shakespeare Street stands lying in the valley between two gently-sloping hills. J Holland Walker states that “it was conveniently placed to collect all the drainage from these hillsides and, consequently, was always notorious for its unpleasant condition. In fact, so bad did it get that it was called Mud Lane”.
In 1358 gallows used specifically for Jewish criminals stood roughly where the University now stands. Walker (1935) states that “no Christian could be hanged upon the same gallows as that which terminated the life of a Jew”.
In 1852 it was all tidied up and re-christened Shakespeare Street.
The original University college (now Nottingham Trent) opened on the 30th June 1881 by Prince Leopold ( eighth child and fourth son of Queen Victoria and he was given the title of Duke of Albany). The University College was established on Shakespeare Street to give educational lectures to the Mechanics Institute by University Extension Lecturers.
Some of the famous students the College has produced have included no other than DH Lawrence. Lawrence received his teaching certificate after studying in the Arkwright building. In his novel The Rainbow (1915) Lawrence drew on his own memories of Arkwright for Ursula Brangwen’s first impressions of University College, with the lines: “The big college built of stone, standing in the quiet street, with a rim of grass and lime-trees all so peaceful: she felt it remote, a magic-land.”
Lawrence, DH., 1915. The Rainbow. 1st edn. London: Methuen & Co.
Walker, JH., 1935. An itinerary of Nottingham: Goldsmith Street, Clarendon Street and Sherwood Street. Nottingham: Transactions of the Thoroton Society.