Most people might know Nottingham thanks to its association with Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest and the Sheriff. However, there’s much more to this beautiful city than just its legends – in fact, there are plenty of interesting facts about Nottingham to learn. Here are a few we bet you didn’t know…
This historic city has plenty of secrets to tell…
Where did Nottingham get its name?
One of the most unusual facts about Nottingham is where its name comes from. Around 600AD, the town was under the control of an Anglo-Saxon tribe called the Snotingas, where the chief was called ‘Snot’, meaning caves. They called the town ‘Snotengaham’, or literally ‘the homestead of Snot’s people’. Over the years, the city’s name was gradually modified until it became known as Nottingham around the 12th century.
Nottingham is home to many famous faces
Many celebrities and well-known personalities have a long association with Nottingham – the Boot family, founders of Boots the Chemists pharmacy chain, musician Jake Bugg, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, poet Lord Byron, fashion designer, Sir Paul Smith, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, and HP Sauce inventor, Frederick Gibson Garton are just a few of the famous locals.
The Sheriff of Nottingham actually exists
Robin Hood may just be a medieval folklore, but his arch-nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham is a real-life position that actually exists today. It’s an ambassadorial role where the Sheriff is charged with welcoming visitors and promoting Nottingham’s historic associations. The current High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire is Judy Naake, who previously made her fortune selling St Tropez fake tans.
The Nottingham Goose Fair is one of the oldest events
The Nottingham Goose Fair is an annual travelling funfair that has existed since at least 1284. Once it was known for as a trade event with exceptionally high-quality cheese; today it’s one of the UK’s most prestigious fairs with over 500 attractions, games and rides. The Nottingham Goose Fair is held at the Forest Recreation Ground during the first week of October.
Ibuprofen was invented in Nottingham
In 1953, Boots pharmacist Dr Stewart Adams was working in a house in the south of Nottingham, performing clinical trials on pain-killing chemical substances. His only successful attempt was ibuprofen, which he tested on himself for a hangover. Since 1983, ibuprofen (now known as Nurofen) has been one of the most popular over-the-counter painkillers.
We can thank Nottingham for traffic lights
After seeing thousands killed on the roads, Nottingham High School student John Peake Knight came up with a solution in 1866. He created a system with a revolving gas-powered lantern and a red and green light to control road traffic. The very first one was placed at the junction of Great George Street and Bridge Street in Westminster, London.
Nottingham’s bell could one day replace Big Ben
Nottingham is home to the deepest-toned bell in Britain, the ‘Little John’ hour bell in Nottingham Council House. The 10.5 tonne bell sounds out the time every 15 minutes and it’s reportedly the loudest clock bell in the country, with its strike heard up to 7 miles away. In 2015, Nottingham City Council offered the loan of Little John to replace Big Ben if it should ever fall silent.
Ice Age art can be found at Creswell Crags
Some of Britain’s only known Ice Age art is found at Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge and cave network 25 miles north of Nottingham. The caves are believed to have been inhabited during the last ice age, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago. Today, these caves tell a long and interesting story about mankind throughout the ages with evidence from Neolithic, Bronze Age, Roman and medieval times. Bones, flint tools and other artefacts have been uncovered, as well as Ice Age engravings of animals, birds and people.