Nottingham has a great deal of green spaces many of which I’ve never actually visited, so this year I’ve decided to try and visit more of them. Arnot Hill Park was the first of these, which I picked solely because I happened to be roughly in the area on the day. It was easy to get to by bus – there’s a stop right outside the entrance on Nottingham Road.
The most striking part of the park is Arnot Hill House. Built in 1792 it was the home of the Hawksley family. John Hawksley was a wool manufacturer who co-owned what was at the time the largest worsted wool mill in the country on the site of what is now the park. The mill engine’s cooling pond is now the lake. John’s son Thomas was an engineer who among other achievements created the first pressurised clean water supply which ensured Nottingham residents’ life expectancy was greatly increased. Interestingly the house was also used as a convalescence home by the British Red Cross for soldiers during the First World War. The wounded men would arrive by train at night so as not to alarm the locals and signal how the war was going.
A memorial to Hawksley was actually unveiled in 2019 with some of his direct descendants in attendance. It was funded by Severn Trent Water and designed and built by local artist Richard Janes and also includes designs from children at Arnbrook Primary School. It’s built with materials and techniques that Hawksley would have been familiar with but I have to say it was quite hard to read the details around the sides and even harder to photograph owing to the pipework you can see directly in the middle of the information panels.
One of the things I really liked about the park was the abundance of art work. The local council and young people from the Express Yourself Programme designed the decorative aspects of the rose and sensory gardens which lent a lot of colour to areas that understandably were looking quite barren on a random February afternoon.
There is also a very nicely carved war memorial commemorating local men who died fighting both world wars.
And of course there are lots of water fowl which were receiving a lot of attention – you can apparently buy bird food at the kiosk and lots of swans and geese were taking advantage!
A lovely space to walk around there is also a skate park and children’s playground. You can find some more photos here.