by Frank E Earp
An abiding memory from my childhood is shopping expeditions to Hyson Green, with my mother and grandmother. ‘The Green’ was – and still is – one of the best shopping areas in Nottingham. “We are going down ‘The Green’!” my mother would say, – a chance to spend my 6d pocket money on a toy soldier from Woolworths. A fascination for a young boy was a visit to one of the famous Staddens shops. Here, they employed a ‘mysterious’ purchasing system, where your cash was placed into a ball by the shop assistant. The ball was then placed into a tube where it would ‘shoot off’, only to return what seemed like moments later, with the change or a receipt. I always wanted to put one of my soldiers into the ball to see where it went. A real treat was the bakers. This shop had a ‘counter’ with glass barrels filled with biscuits.
There never was an ancient village called Hyson Green. The area covered by what we now call ‘The Green’ was a part of the parishes of Lenton and Radford. It did not become a parish in its own right until 1844, with the completion of St. Paul’s church. Largely a sandy wasteland covered with heather and gorse, it was a part of the ancient Sherwood Forest. The earliest reference to the district comes from 1488, where it is called the Linges, – (ling is an old word for heather) – “….the Outgoings of Radford and Lenton leading toward the Linges on the north side.” – The area was also known as the Outgang and Radford Road was formerly known as Outgang Lane.
A mystery surrounds the origin of the name Hyson Green. In 1814 Captain Barker refers to the area as the High Sands, – as opposed to the Low Sands at Radford. It is easy to see how, in popular speech, High Sands could be corrupted to Hyson. The Rev. George Oliver in his book Shadows Departed, suggest that an ancient monolith known as the High Stone, once stood somewhere around the junction of Mount Hooton Road and Bentinck Road, – High Stone (Green) becoming Hyson (Green). A more simple explanation says that an old shop in the area had on its gable wall a faded, painted sign, advertising ‘Hyson’s Green Tea’, – a popular brand of Chinese Green Tea.
The history of the ‘Green’ as we now know it today does not begin until after the Inclosure Act of 1798, when the Linges began to be cultivated with fields and gardens. At this time, an old house existed somewhere in the vicinity of Pepper St, but it was a joiner, Mr Elliot, who built the first modern house around 1802. A few years later, John Ison built two more houses. It is said that on completion he painted the name ‘Ison Green’ above their doors, – another explanation for the origin of the name Hyson Green.
Perhaps one of the most influential developers of the area was John Pepper, – hence Pepper Street. In 1824 Pepper established a ‘Tea Garden’ and a Bowling Green at his public house, the Cricket Players. Hyson Green became a popular and fashionable resort for Nottingham folk.
In the early 19th century the city of Nottingham began to expand rapidly into the surrounding countryside. As more land came up for sale, more houses were built and the former sheep tracks of the Linges became roads and streets. The building of the first fashionable houses gave way to more practical dwellings. In 1820, The Society of Workmen, Stocking Makers, and Warp Hands, built the houses on Pleasant Row, Lenton St., Savile Row, Lindsay St., and Pepper St. These houses, for which Society members paid £70 by subscription, had workshops on the second floor.
More and more commercial properties were built to service the needs of the growing community and by the beginning of the 19th century Hyson Green had established itself as Nottingham’s premier – and first – ‘out of town shopping centre’.
Article By Frank E Earp. Originally Published in The Topper, November 23, 2011.