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Nottinghamshire has two early sixteenth century terracotta locations at Kneesall and Rampton, although here the material is not used in such a lavish manner as at the better-known group of contemporary Norfolk hall houses. From the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there are good Powell’s opus sectile panels at Hucknall, Lenton (Nottingham) and St Mary Magdalene, Newark, where there are also some unusual Victorian memorial tiles; in addition, there is a rare tiled reredos by the stained glass makers Shrigley & Hunt at St Edmund, Holme Pierrepoint. However, the bulk of the county’s sites are in Nottingham, where the local architect Watson Fothergill produced a series of showy buildings with tile and terracotta decoration, and the recently restored Prudential Assurance building has an excellent Burmantofts interior. Not surprisingly, considering the city’s proximity to the former Hathern works (about ten miles to the south, near Loughborough), Nottingham also has a good variety of interwar faience facades. Modern work is in fairly short supply in the county. Suggested reading: Ken Brand, Watson Fothergill, Architect (Nottingham Civic Society, 1997); Ken Brand, Ornamental Nottingham (TACS Tour Notes, 1992). The Gazetteer entry for Nottinghamshire covers the administrative areas of Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.


The hand-painted tile reredos (1877) in St Edmund’s Church is a rare example of tiling in a church context by the Lancaster stained glass firm Shrigley & Hunt; their tiles were very popular in the 1870s and 1880s, but were mostly used in furniture and fire surrounds. The tile panels show emblematic plants - vine leaves and a corn on the cob - on either side of an inscription.[1]


Three fine Powell’s opus sectile panels may be seen at the Church of St Mary Magdalen, burial place of the poet Lord Byron. A panel showing angels with musical instruments is on the north wall of the church, between two of the twenty-five Kempe windows. This dates from 1897, while ‘The return of the prodigal son’ was supplied by Powell’s in the following year. The third panel, including angels bearing a scroll, dates from 1905.[2]


Old Hall Farm was probably built as a hunting lodge around 1515-40; its significance resides in its early use of constructional terracotta, which can be seen in the terracotta blocks of the staircase and in the remains of the mullioned windows. There are two other sites in Nottinghamshire with early sixteenth century terracotta: the gateway near Hill’s Farm at Rampton, which bears terracotta coats of arms, and All Saints Church at Granby, where the east window of the chancel was of terracotta (replaced by stone in 1888, although fragments remain). However, none of these buildings had such lavishly decorative terracotta as the Norfolk hall houses of the same date.[3]


H. & R. Johnson’s provided two tube-lined murals for the Mansfield Safeways store around 1990; made by the firm’s Minton Hollins section, the murals depicted Robin Hood and Nottingham Castle. In contrast is the faience facade of the shop at 11 Leeming Street, which was built for Boot’s the Chemists and dates from about 1900. Its decoration includes roundels bearing the letter ‘B’.


The parish church of St Mary Magdalene, Church Walk, is the third on its site, an impressive spire signalling its presence at the centre of Newark (Fig 221). The present tower was begun by 1230, while the remainder of the church was rebuilt in the two centuries after 1310. The galleries accumulated during the eighteenth century were swept away in the mid-nineteenth century, when most of the stained glass was installed. A very fine Powell’s opus sectile panel depicting ‘The Adoration of the Lamb’ was installed in the Lady Chapel in 1912, to mark the seventy-eighth birthday of Newark’s vicar during 1880-1907, Marshall Wild (who also has a memorial tile in the choir). The design of this costly panel, one of Powell’s more expensive opus sectile contracts at £256, combines angels from cartoons used previously by the firm with a new central feature by Charles Hardgrave.[4] The angel wings in deep reds, greens and blues are vibrant, as is the flowing water of life. The choir has a Minton pavement and there are lozenge-shaped memorial tiles dotted about throughout the church, dating from between 1885 and 1916. These commemorate individuals, including the Borough Surveyor, but - more unusually - also events such as the installation of glass in the tower (1887) and clerestory (1890) windows. There is also a handsome royal coat of arms in an ornate border set into the red and black pavement just inside the west door.

There is little else in Newark of ceramic interest apart from a couple of minor locations, each close to one of the town’s pair of railway stations. The Waitrose store in Ossington Road (opposite Newark Castle station) sports two large tile panels by Reptile behind its meat and fish counters, while near Newark Northgate station is Jabez House (1880), 51 Alliance Street, with a strip of pretty green and white floral-motif tiles set into the doorcase at either side of its front door.


Central Nottingham has a slightly foreign air, with lofty, bright red brick buildings layered upward like inverted wedding cakes and topped by half-timbering. Tiles and terracotta feature mainly as decorative additions in these late Victorian structures, particularly in the work of the architect Watson Fothergill. The only complete faience interiors were introduced to Nottingham by organizations based outside the city, the railway companies and Prudential Assurance. There is also much interwar faience to be seen, of varying quality, on this circular tour which begins and ends at the railway station, to the south of the centre, with an optional extension to the west and a few items from the suburbs.

Nottingham’s first railway station, the terminus of the Midland Counties Railway branch from Derby, opened on Carrington Street in 1839. Their through station came into operation in 1848, just to the east, but despite enlargements this appeared totally inadequate in the face of direct competition from the Great Central Railway, whose Victoria Station, on the northern edge of the central area, opened in 1900. Victoria Station was designed by a local architect, A. E. Lambert, who provided the Great Central with an imposing renaissance-style structure complete with a clock tower over 100 feet in height. The interior was also impressive, with its dining room and refreshment room decked out with Burmantofts faience; they were both shown in the Leeds firm’s catalogue of 1902.

The Midland Railway responded by hiring Lambert to design a new station of their own, a rebuilding of the through station on the Carrington Street site. The Midland Station (1904) is now the sole functioning passenger station in the city, as the Victoria Station was closed in 1967 and mostly demolished, although the clock tower remains, near the Victoria Centre (see below). For the Midland, Lambert produced a long, red sandstone facade dominated by a central, orangey-brown terracotta-domed clock tower. There are masses of ornate terracotta dressings, and the airy booking hall behind the outer screen is lined with bottle-green glazed faience blocks; on the floor is a modern mosaic portraying local industries. Down at platform level, the small buffet (formerly refreshment room) between platforms two and three has a nicely tiled interior in pale yellows and greens, with some relief pattern tiles and a chunky brown fireplace surround, all probably by Burmantofts.

Directly north of the station on Canal Street is Broad Marsh Bus Station. Inside, running across the width of this long, low space at both ends are large murals of Shaws Twintiles, probably dating from the early 1970s. The western mural shows a townscape of Nottingham while the portrayal of the Goose Fair at the opposite end includes a huge white goose. Continue northward through the grim Broad Marsh shopping centre, whose 1970s wall tiling - including one mural believed to be the largest permanent work of computer art in the world in 1974 - disappeared during later refurbishments.[5] Leave the shopping centre at the Lister Gate exit and pass the complex interwar white faience facade of Marks & Spencer, topped with strange mushroom-like finials. Its next-door neighbour W. H. Smith’s also has a good white faience facade with black faience columns at first floor level.

Head directly north through the pedestrianised area to reach the Old Market Square; on its far side, Long Row, is the unusual green and white striped interwar faience facade of Namco. Turn right along Cheapside, which runs along the southern face of the massive classical Council House, to pass more white faience in the form of the neo-Baroque offices above Poultry Arcade. Just to the right, on the corner with Bridlesmith Gate, is the County Club (1869, now American Express), designed by one of the city’s two most notable Victorian architects, Thomas Chambers Hine (1813-99); it sports horizontal strings of buff and brown terracotta tiles which alternate the club motif and the entwined letters ‘NC’ for Nottinghamshire Club. Turn left into High Street, which is dominated by the beautifully preserved shopfront of the former Boots the Chemists store (1903-4, now a fashion shop), a wonderful domed Edwardian baroque structure clothed in deep buff terracotta; it was designed by the local architect Albert Nelson Bromley and became the model for Boots stores throughout the country. There is some good detailing, especially the pair of figures supporting the clock on the corner tower, and more figures almost hidden beneath the semicircular balcony. The store was restored by the Architects Design Group in 1974 and by Hathernware in 2000.

To inspect the Lion Hotel, a turn-of-the-century essay in yellow and green faience, go directly ahead into Clumber Street; now return to the High Street and turn east into Pelham Street, then left into Thurland Street for the red brick Corn Exchange (1849-50), on the right; this was T. C. Hine’s first major building in Nottingham. Its facade displays a string course of encaustic tiles with a guilloche motif in brown, buff and black. Continue along Thurland Street, then right into Lincoln Street; at the T-junction go a few yards to the right to see the architect Watson Fothergill’s office (now a shop and gallery) at 15 George Street. Fothergill (1841-1928) had been turfed out of his previous office accommodation just to the west in Clinton Street as a result of demolition work caused by railway construction. His new office, put up in 1895 and which he designed himself, was a model of his architectural attitudes: it was a confident and eclectic stylistic mix with much ornament, including a canopied figure of a medieval architect holding a bundle of plans, surely based on Fothergill. Over the entrance is a stone bearing the words ‘Watson Fothergill Architect’, close to the names of his mentors George Gilbert Scott, William Burges and Richard Norman Shaw, and unnamed busts of G. E. Street and A. W. N. Pugin. The major terracotta decoration is in the form of four panels, each about a foot high and two feet across, depicting the construction of classical, medieval and Elizabethan buildings. Inside is some unusual wall tiling, possibly of terracotta, with motifs including a multi-rayed sun.

Turn back northward along George Street, going left into Lower Parliament Street and soon reaching another Fothergill extravaganza, the shop and warehouse of Furley & Co, high class provision merchants, built in 1896-7. There are a few strings of art nouveau tiling on the side elevation and four terracotta panels on the main facade; these have an oriental theme and show Five men plying sampans, A Far Eastern market, Cutting sugar cane and Boiling sugar cane. Across the road is the Victoria Centre, and a brief diversion northward along its Milton Street boundary brings into sight a dramatic printed-tile mural designed and made by the London artist Robert Dawson (Fig 222). Entitled Cycle, it was installed in 2001 during the John Lewis Partnership’s redevelopment of the Jessop & Son’s store. The mural is almost 50’ long and about 8’ in height, and shows highly convincing computer-manipulated images of moving bicycles, entirely appropriate for its site behind a set of bicycle racks. Return to Lower Parliament Street and continue west into Upper Parliament Street to see the offices of the Nottingham Express, built by Fothergill Watson in 1876; the extensions of 1899 are by the same architect, who by that time was known as Watson Fothergill, having changed his name by deed poll in 1892. There are eight tiles, four of them portraits, set into the inside wall of its open corner porch, which also has a rather worn encaustic tile pavement.[6]

The circular route now goes left into King Street; for the longer route, which continues along Upper Parliament Street, please see below. On the corner of Upper Parliament Street and King Street is the soaring white Hathern faience facade of the former Elite Picture Theatre (now Paul Davey), with its series of statues - figures representing art, drama, music and so forth - crammed into niches along the parapet. This cinema development of 1919-21 was designed by Adamson & Kinns and incorporated a four-storey office block, restaurants and masonic lodges in assorted historical styles.[7] Further south, the triangular site at the junction of King Street and Queen Street is occupied by the towering pile that is the former Prudential Building (now the Hard Rock Café), designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built in 1893-8. The rich, deep red terracotta of its facade and the ornate faience of its recently restored interior - including a pitched-roofed faience clock - were supplied by Burmantofts. At the corner of King Street and Long Row is Queen’s Chambers (1897), another typical Watson Fothergill building with much terracotta decoration.

Opposite is the Council House; from here, the return route to the railway station lies directly south, past St Peter’s Church and through the Broad Marsh Shopping Centre. However, to explore the western fringe of the city centre, return via Queen Street to Upper Parliament Street and continue west, passing the Blue Bell public house on the north side of the road. It was designed by Hedley Price and built in 1904; the decorative ground floor facade is in matt olive green faience. Just before the pub is a sixties shopfront with several high-relief abstract turquoise panels which are probably ceramic. Next, on the south side, is the pub now known as Number 10, with a good interwar faience facade including lettering for the local Home Brewery and the date 1928. Further along, and back on the north side, is the rather larger form of Co-operative House, the former Nottingham Co-operative Society store, with a fine terracotta frontage dating from 1916 (architect W. V. Betts); this featured in a Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company publication issued around 1930.[8] The facade is particularly notable for its three colourful relief panels above the main entrance, showing giant-size figures in the shipbuilding, textile manufacturing and railway engineering industries. It is unclear whether Hathern or another manufacturer was responsible for these panels, which are probably ceramic.

 West of Co-operative House, across the broad road junction, is the landmark domed tower of the Albert Hall on North Circus Street. It was built in 1907-9 to the designs of A. E. Lambert and includes much buff terracotta. Opposite on Derby Road is the R. C. Cathedral of St Barnabas (1842-4, A. W. N. Pugin), which - after St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham - was Pugin’s second great church commission in the Midlands. Some of its Puginian character has been lost during frequent internal rearrangements, but original encaustic floor tiles remain in several areas, notably the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to the south of the retrochoir. Here, in intensely Puginian surroundings reminiscent of St Giles Cheadle, are floor tiles with large Agnus Dei motifs. The rather stark nave pavement dates from the Cathedral’s 1994 re-ordering. West of St Barnabas, via Upper College Street, is 19 Park Terrace (1881), one of the many houses on the Park Estate designed by T. C. Hine; it bears a large terracotta plaque with the date and the initials ‘TCH’.[9]

A diversion about a third of a mile north of the Cathedral, via Clarendon Street, leads to the former College of Art and Design (1863-5, architect Frederick Bakewell of Nottingham) on the corner of Peel Street and Waverley Street. Now known as the Waverley Building of Nottingham Trent University, it carries an encaustic tile frieze. In the General Cemetery, immediately south on Waverley Street, is the Bright family memorial, a white faience tabernacle on an octagonal shaft with an hexagonal pedestal and plinth. This dates from about 1908 and can be found on the south side of the cemetery; it commemorates members of the family who died between 1871 and 1928.

From the Cathedral, return to the railway station via Long Row and the main shopping area, or alternatively by taking in the Castle Museum, about a third of a mile south of St Barnabas. Here tiles by Joanna Veevers, made in the late 1990s, are set above the handbasins in the lavatories. The tiles, which depict scenes from Nottingham’s history, were designed using a monoprint technique in which images were drawn in slip on a plaster slab then cast in semi-porcelain.

Just east of the city centre in Sneinton a wide range of porch dado tiling may be found in an area taking in over thirty streets. Here the housing generally dates from between 1900 and 1914, and over 250 different tile designs have been recorded including striking art nouveau flowers. In the western suburb of Lenton is Holy Trinity Church, Church Street, where the cigarette manufacturer W. G. Player  worshipped; the John Player & Sons tobacco factories were built just to the north, on Radford Boulevard, from 1883. The present reredos was given to the church by W. G. Player in 1911. It is a handsome Powell’s piece which combines opus sectile work with green and gold glazed tiles; it shows the figure of Christ holding a chalice, with the cross in the background and angels at his feet. This was a costly commission at £310.


The gateway between the churchyard and the yard of Hill’s Farm is a splendidly showy piece of early sixteenth century work in terracotta and brick, the panels of terracotta bearing coats of arms. The gateway originally formed part of the route between the now-demolished manor house and the church.


Papplewick Pumping Station, in Longdale Lane, Ravenshead (just over a mile east of Papplewick), was built in 1881-5, and was one of three such water pumping stations serving Nottingham. Its 1884 twin beam-engines still occupy palatial surroundings with much ornate cast ironwork, tiling, stained glass and lacquered brass. The decorative theme is water-based and naturalistic, including motifs of fish, water birds, plants and fauna, as well as a terracotta phoenix which guards the pump house entrance. The phoenix was stolen around 2002 but a replacement was soon made by Hathernware, who were also responsible for the restoration of the building’s terracotta decoration. The stamp of the Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company has been found on some of the original terracotta, identifying it as an early example of the firm’s production.

Nottinghamshire Roundup

The spectacular octagonal dairy (no public access) at Dairy Farm, Mansfield Road, Arnold has wall tiling showing scenes of dairymaids throughout the world. The architect G. F. Bodley’s 1864-5 decoration of the chancel at All Saints Church, Coddington included the installation of an encaustic tile pavement. In the chancel of All Saints Church (1875, architect J. T. Lee of London), Harby is an encaustic tile pavement whose design incorporates texts. The colourful Minton encaustic tile pavement in the chapel (the former chapter house) at Newstead Abbey dates from its redecoration in the 1860s; the Pugin-type designs include some on an unusual pale green ground. All Saints Church (1886-8), Winthorpe has an encaustic tiled pavement in its chancel and baptistery. The French Horn Hotel (architect F. Hopkinson), 15 Potter Street, Worksop has a good Burmantofts faience facade of 1906.


1.^         William Waters, Stained Glass from Shrigley & Hunt of Lancaster and London (Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, 2003), pp26-7, 81.
2.^         Dennis W. Hadley, James Powell & Sons: A listing of opus sectile, 1847-1973, (2001).
3.^         Nikolaus Pevsner and Elizabeth Williamson, Nottinghamshire Buildings of England (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1979).
4.^         Hadley, James Powell & Sons, 2001.
5.^         'Mural expresses computer art', Ceramic Industries Journal, 84 (1974) 989, p9.
6.^         Ken Brand, Watson Fothergill (Nottingham Civic Society, Nottingham, 1997).
7.^         Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain: One Hundred Years of Cinema Architecture (Lund Humphries Publishers, London, 1996).
8.^         Modern Practice in Architectural Terra Cotta, (Hathern Station Brick & Terra Cotta Co Ltd, Loughborough, 1930).
9.^         Ken Brand, Thomas Chambers Hine: Architect of Victorian Nottingham (Nottingham Civic Society, Nottingham, 2003).

The Tile Gazetteer is Copyright © 2005 Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society and Lynn Pearson, Richard Dennis.