Aside from some thrilling history, spectacular architecture and a great creative culture, the abundance of independent business in the city says a lot about the people here.
When it comes to personality, we don’t think it would be biased to say Nottingham has it by the bucket load. Aside from some thrilling history, spectacular architecture and a great creative culture, the abundance of independent business in the city says a lot about the people here.
Chic retail, enticing eateries, and a great array of entertainment can be found within the distinctive districts and historic passageways of Nottingham, bringing the individuality and creativity of our people to the streets. These are the places you stumble upon by accident, tell your friends to visit, and find yourself returning to again and again.
A particularly exciting element to Nottingham’s flourishing scene is the number of city spaces that are being opened up to the public for the first time in decades. Until 2015, Cobden Chambers lay behind a rusty gate on the busy and established thoroughfare of Pelham Street. Today it is home to a record shop, a trendy magazine retailer, countless creative start-ups and a fantastic gallery, cafe and meeting space. In the warmer months this is the place to chill in the sun with a coffee, find pop-up events and markets, and admire the street art and atmosphere.
Wander up the road to Hockley and you’re guaranteed to find a shop window that will interest you. Vintage, urban, alternative and new age styles are all catered for here, and the shopfronts blend with a cool array of international restaurants, bohemian cafes and lively bars which spill onto the streets. When exploring the area make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more unassuming doorways however - a number of off street buildings, and even caves, have been transformed over the past few years, and now make up some of the city’s most exciting bars. Hockley also boasts an independent theatre, cinema and two gaming arcades. Head to Jam Cafe to get an ear of Nottingham’s notable music scene, the Angel Microbrewery for a full vegan, vegetarian and meaty menu, or taste a world of flavours at August Moon Tea.
The hustle of the area makes way for tranquil historic charm as you enter The Lace Market. Once the heart of Nottingham’s industry, the tall brick factories are now home to many studios and spaces that make up the city’s Creative Quarter. Check out a supper club or crafternoon at studio and tea rooms Debbie Bryan, find inspiration at renowned modern art gallery Nottingham Contemporary, or learn about the fascinating history of crime and punishment at the National Justice Museum.
While Hockley is the most well known hub for independent business, elsewhere throughout the city lie more areas that should not go unexplored. Well worth the extra five minute amble, both Derby Road and Mansfield Road have a range of long established indie galleries, quirky shops and cracking pubs. Another hidden gem is Bridlesmith Walk, an unobtrusive passageway which features the vintage styled White Rabbit Teahouse, ale emporium Junkyard and fashion connoisseurs Stick & Ribbon.
There’s more fun to be had in the east of the city centre, towards Nottingham Castle, where you can test your wits at Escapologic escape rooms, roll the dice at Ludorati board game cafe, or relax with a feline friend at the esteemed Kitty Cafe. Stunning Victorian music hall The Malt Cross, which is complete with caves, live music and gin tastings, is also an all-round fascinating organisation in the area. Nearby, check out Hurt’s Yard, this historic ramshackle passageway has bars dedicated to ale, tequila, and coffee, plus the famed Rob’s Record Mart, which has been trading in vinyl for over 30 years.
For days when the weather is wet there are numerous sheltered shopping areas, each wildly different in atmosphere and architecture. Choose from the grandeur of The Exchange Arcade in Nottingham Council House, the retro vibes of West End Arcade, Flying Horse Walk’s meandering boutiques, or the a dedicated independent quarter of Broadmarsh Shopping Centre.
There’s nothing better than learning from those who have a passion for their subject, so if you are the type who prefers acquiring knowledge to possessions, then check out the variety of specialist businesses in the city. Learn the art of coffee making at a 200 Degrees barista course, discover the intricacies of jewellery making at Focus Gallery, or take a film course at Broadway Cinema.
This is just a taste of what you will find if you set out to explore Nottingham’s independent scene, and with an ever evolving cityscape the variety is bound to blossom throughout coming years, making for a brilliantly exciting city to keep on discovering.
Explore some of Nottingham’s independent businesses here