How Nottingham’s heritage strategy will breathe new life into its tourism sector

Nottingham is on the cusp of an incredibly exciting time in its history, with a number of extraordinary transformations and regeneration projects taking place in the city centre. Alongside the shiny new developments in its Southside area, there are also a number of significant heritage projects which will bring the city’s fascinating history to life and help to preserve it for future generations. With many of these projects nearing completion or well underway, Visit Nottinghamshire takes a look at the positive impact that this will have on the city’s tourism sector.

First impressions count: a number of key developments and extensive public realm improvements are underway in Nottingham’s Southside area, helping to create an attractive welcome to the city for tourists entering via the train station or, once reopened, via the new Broadmarsh Bus Station and Car Park. City Buildings – one of Nottingham’s most iconic buildings and located on a key route between the railway station and the city centre – has been restored to its former Victorian era glory using funding from the Carrington Street Area Townscape Heritage Scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This includes the restoration of historic shopfronts and upper floor windows, providing a visually appealing gateway into the city. Likewise, a number of nearby buildings and businesses have also benefited from the grant funding scheme, including The Barley Twist, Gordon House, the Gresham Hotel and Hopkinson’s amongst others, helping to restore Nottingham’s historic character. Nottingham’s Southside area today is characterised by a mix of historic, listed buildings alongside brand-new developments, which complement one another and help to create a unique character for the area. The importance of creating a positive first impression for visitors should not be underestimated, and will be invaluable in shaping their overall view of the city and the likelihood of their decision to explore further, stay longer, and to return for a future visit.

The transformation of Nottingham Castle will provide a major boost for the city’s tourism offer, and it is hoped that its reopening will kickstart the recovery of this industry. Nottingham Castle aims to welcome more than 300,000 people through its doors every year once the sector recovers – many of whom will explore the city as part of their visit, meaning that the wider tourism and hospitality sector will feel the benefit. A significant element of the Castle’s new visitor offer includes an immersive and interactive exploration of Nottingham’s fascinating heritage, history and legend (not least the legend of globally recognised outlaw Robin Hood). The Castle’s innovative new galleries, exhibitions and experiences will bring this history to life for visitors and hopefully inspire them to explore the region more widely, further benefiting the local economy.

Making the most of Nottingham’s unique hidden heritage. The city is built on soft sandstone rock, and our ancestors carved out an extraordinary subterranean underworld which can still be explored by visitors today at attractions such as the City of Caves. Nottingham City Council’s recent public consultation on the future of the Broadmarsh site revealed a desire for the city to make better use of the caves network in this area, and the Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group will be working with partners including the University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council to explore this option, aiming to better understand the caves’ history and archaeology, and delivering high-quality visitor experiences and educational resources. Nottingham’s caves continue to be a highlight of the city’s visitor offer, with a number of accessible caves in its pubs and bars (such as the Malt Cross, the Bell Inn, and the Hand and Heart) and even an underground escape room. Maximising the opportunities provided by the city’s caves network will help to create an impression of Nottingham as a city where visitors can follow in the footsteps of its ancestors, delve deep into its history and uncover hidden secrets.

Nottingham’s history and heritage is an extremely important element of the city’s visitor appeal. According to research undertaken by Visit Nottinghamshire, tourists have a very positive view of Nottingham’s history, with 86% feeling that the city has beautiful architecture, 79% believing that Robin Hood should be an icon for the city, and 72% considering the history of Nottingham’s lace industry to be important. Nottingham’s Heritage Strategy and the associated projects will play a key role in helping to bring the city’s history and heritage to life for tourists, creating an attractive, enjoyable and memorable city experience for those who visit.

Image credit: Tracey Whitefoot and Nottingham Castle Trust

Posted on 28 April 2021

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Sophie Milne

A member of the Marketing and Communications team at Marketing NG, Sophie manages press and PR. This includes writing and distributing press releases, arranging FAM trips, liaising with the media to gain press coverage for Nottingham/shire and Marketing NG, monitoring the news and ensuring colleagues are kept up to date with news stories and doing media interviews.