The Wells, Pumps, Pinfolds and Stocks belonging to the old town of Nottingham

by Joe Earp 

Wells with ropes or chains and buckets for winding up the water appear to have been the only sort used in Nottingham until some time after 1636. In that same year an attempt to have a pump fixed to a well at Weekday Cross, with the daily market held there, the well would have had considerable use. The council were asked to order a pump and they replied “this companie, having heard the nocions of the inhabitants aboute the Weekday-Cross touching a pumpe to be made the leadon well now stands. They are of oppynion that one cannot conviently be made to hold longe or to be kepte sweete; therefore doe not allowe of theire mocion, but are content that the same shalbe sufficiently repaired by the newe chamberlaynes, butt nott otherwise to be altered”. The experience of the corporation respecting this matter was extremely limited and their opinion untrustworthy. At this period the pump barrel or piping would probably be made of wood.

The next time a pump is mentioned is to be found in the Chamberlains Accounts for 1651, namely: “the paid to Widdow Bennett for iron sweape (handle) for the pumpe at the Narrowe Marshe end, and a milnstone there, 2s 0d”. This is perhaps the first mention of a pump which was being used in Nottingham. James Granger ( 1901/1902) states “judging from inferences to be gathered in the records, there appears good reason for supposing that at one period the town possessed nearly thirty public wells, of which several were made in the seventeenth century, one of them being ordered on Short Hill (in the Lace Market), in 1663. Of this number it is possible to located over twenty, namely:- Weekday Cross, East End of Spice Chamber, St Mary’s Church Yard, Shambles End, St Peter’s Church, The Poultry, Plumptre Square, Long Stairs Foot (Narrow Marsh), Upper Parliament Street (Back Side), Lower Parliament Street, Narrow Marsh End, Short Hill, Chapel Bar, St James’s Street, St Nicholas Church Stile, Beast Market Hill, Front of the Exchange, Goose Gate, Friar Lane, Warser Gate, Spittle Well, Castle Gate and St Mary’s Gate”.


Regarding pinfolds, there is according to Granger ( 1901/1902) “Five or Six in the old town of Nottingham. Their positions were:- Bridge End, Goose Gate, towards High Cross, in the Sandfield and Narrow Marsh near Long Stairs”. One is also mentioned at Leen Bridge, and Bridge-Foot. From there being proportionately so many pinfolds in the town formerly, and other circumstances confirming, we are left assuming that there must have been a large number of cattle and other domestic animals belonging to it.

James Granger ( 1901/1902) explains regarding the stocks in the old town of Nottingham: “I can easily believe that the stocks in the town would have been in constant requisition. There were four of them, of which the positions can be defined as follows:- Weekday Cross, Timber Hill, Goose Gate and Bridge End (now Plumptre Square). Constant references are made in the “Records” regarding the repairing and upkeep of the town’s wells, pinfolds and stocks.



Granger, J., 1901/1902. Old Nottingham: It’s Streets and People. Nottingham.

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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