Nottingham Hidden History Team

This week we discovered an important video of the original Nottingham Hidden History Team. A anonymous member of the public  contacted us stating that they had video footage of the original Nottingham Hidden History Team working in a cave under Nottingham.

The original Nottingham Hidden History Team were formed in 1965. The purpose of the Team was to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City in the 1960s and onwards. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was officially notified; the last thing contractors wanted was someone telling them to stop work on a project; TIME is MONEY.

During this period the ‘Team‘, – about ten strong (varying on availability of members at any particular time), recorded, cleaned and helped preserve many sites that would have
been lost for ever. The team’s founder and team leader (for thirty plus years) was Mr Paul Nix.

In the early days, the team found themselves involved with various cave explorations. Readers should remember that it was groups like the Nottingham Hidden History Team and others who were the first to excavate and record the many caves under Nottingham.  The team’s cave highlights saw them recording Daniel in the Lion’s Den and the Colonnade in the Park Terrace. They were also one of the first to record the Old Angel Inn, Judge’s Restaurant on Mansfield Road, caves under Long Row, and caves under the old Flying Horse Hotel, plus many more.

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Paul Nix under Long Row, Market Square, Nottingham, c 1982.

Perhaps the highlight of the team’s work was a rescue excavation of the Goose Gate caves. In 1979 shops along Goose Gate were being demolished. Whilst the land was being levelled, it was decided to excavate the site before further development. On Thursday the 30th January 1979, while scraping a section around twenty yards in from Goosegate, a large hole was found containing opening into a cave system. Paul Nix was called in to excavate and record the caves. Through the team’s research, it was discovered that the cave system was Nottingham’s first brewery which was called Simpson’s, on land leased from Richard Arkwright. It was also discovered that part of the system was an underground slaughterhouse used by a pork butcher’s shop, which over several years had subsequently various uses. By the end of the team’s dig, the Council’s Department of Technical Services decided to save the caves and preserve them.

In 1982 the Team was officially recognised by the City of Nottingham’s Arts Department with Paul Nix as its Leader. It was officially agreed that the Team would record various aspects of Nottingham History, including features and functions of old buildings, as well as recording and photographing old caves, related cellars and underground features. It was also agreed that the Team would work in collaboration with the City’s Museums and advise on any possible archaeological investigations.

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Nottingham Hidden History Team being ‘officially’ recognised by City of Nottingham’s Arts Department

By the late 1980’s the Team working collectively, involved Paul Nix, Robert Morrell and Syd Henley. The Team researched and worked on Nottingham’s local history, folklore and archaeology. Nix, Morrell and Henley would go all over Nottinghamshire recording what they discovered as well as photographing everything . The team published a quarterly magazine on their research, plus various Nottingham local history booklets which was published through Robert Morrell’s publishers ‘APRA Press’. The team’s major works included published material on the Hemlock Stone at Stapleford, material on Nottinghamshire’s Holy Wells and Springs, Nottinghamshire Mazes and of course Nottingham cave publications.

The team with the leadership of Paul Nix also started a quarterly magazine ‘Mercian Mysteries’, in collaboration with well established and respected publisher and writer Bob Trubshaw. Trubshaw remembers their days together “I would help Paul put together each issue of Mercian Mysteries. A vast amount of Computer equipment was squeezed into his bedroom. I would sit on his bed, surrounded by relevant paperwork, while he beavered away on the keyboard. Hours would go by and I would return home nearer to midnight. The following Saturday I would collect him and the artwork for the magazine, we would drive to Trinity Square and then spend ages in a stationery shop photocopying about a hundred copies of each issue before going back to Cromer Road to put them in envelopes and add stamps. Eventually I would drop them off at the PO sorting office on the corner of Huntingdon Street on my way back home”.

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The Original NHHT. From left: Robert Morrell, Unidentified Woman, Paul Nix and Syd Henley.

Later in Paul’s life he met Peter Woodward, while researching a village near where Peter lived in 2002. After their first meeting the pair spent many hours, days and nights together, with Paul teaching Peter about manipulating images and Web Pages . Paul had helped many people with their web sites and with answered questions relating to Nottingham or Nottinghamshire. Paul Nix was one of the first people to set a website up on Nottingham Local History. Their days together would be spent with Paul teaching Peter how to build a webpage which developed into a vast site called ‘My Broxtowe Hundred’. The pair worked together on their two websites as well as collecting and writing material. Perhaps the highlight in their research was work on Huntington Beaumont’s first railway line at Wollaton and their extensive work on Nottinghamshire villages.

The team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix in 2008. Luckily Bob Trubshaw and Frank Earp managed to save some of the Hidden History Team’s vast collection of photographs, postcards, slides and research. The result of the recover and preservation of the collection, made me decide to reform the team back in 2011.

This video below shows the team working in a unidentified cave in Nottingham. In the video there is Paul Nix, Robert Morrell and an unidentified young man. If anyone can identify the cave and the unknown man please do contact us (via the contact link).

Below is a link to the video on our YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oguWau-rYY

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About nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam

Originally formed in 1965 to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City that took place in Nottingham in the 1960′s. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was notified; last thing they wanted was someone telling them to stop what they were doing; TIME is MONEY. The word HIDDEN in the Team’s title is because a lot of what was being invisibly lost in the redevelopment was our early history in the caves, they are under most, if now all, of Nottingham. In the 80’s and 90’s the Team conducted with the help of Dr Robert Morrell and Syd Henley, research and work on Nottingham’s history, folklore and local archaeology. The Team published quarterly magazines on their findings. The Team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix who was the team leader for thirty plus years. The Team has reformed and is now back working on Nottingham local history. On this blog you will find a series of history, folklore and archaeological related articles and information. Most of the material published will be specifically related to Nottingham/shire local history.
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