At the Hub of Sneinton's heritage stands... The Old School Hall

The Old School Hall makes up part of a heritage hub at Sneinton. In its urban setting, it is at the centre of a group of historic buildings comprising Green’s Mill, The William Booth Museum, and St Stephen’s Church and the Old Rectory. These buildings are currently disconnected, but the Hall and its car park connects to each of them them in various ways. Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum have recognised this, and the future potential of this site. The Old School Hall is also at the heart of an “At Risk” Article 4 Conservation Area.

There is a strong social heritage: This is the last surviving fragment of four Victorian institutional buildings which were a feature of the expansion of Nottingham eastwards to take in the former village of Sneinton - all were demolished by the 1970s except the Old School Hall: 

Above: 1880s map with institutional buildings highlighted

The current population of Sneinton places enormous value in the Old School Hall because of this connection, with many commenters to our petition keen not to see the last vestige of this era wiped away. Amongst the older population, many were pupils of the school, whilst their children and grand-children have used the building for scouts/brownies, community events, birthday parties and weddings. You can see this from the responses to our online petition (over 700 signatures, click on “view all reasons for signing".

Above: A small selection of the hundreds of comments received supporting the campaign to save the Old School Hall for the community.

The Old School Hall has a value in the setting of Green's Windmill and the Windmill Park. The hall would form a valuable part of the Mill masterplan because it is part of the Mill curtilage, and in fact frames the experience of approaching the Mill from the main access on Windmill Lane. Whilst the Mill Trust may need to focus its efforts on the Mill and immediate surroundings, and not have the capacity to incorporate the building into their heritage plan, this does not diminish the heritage value of the Hall. In fact it makes it more urgent than ever to recognise this value. 

The Mill itself is of course unique in being an Inner City working mill. We are working with Kimberley Bell at the Small Food Bakery to bring to the fore the exceptional qualities of the flours that are milled here, and the heritage bakery methods that Kimberley researches through the use of sourdoughs. Many facets of her (international) work are of profound importance to the future of food in the modern city and are linked to traditional working practices. She has a vision for a bakery at the Old School Hall, and we believe the provision of a bakery at the Mill in the historic building will actually become as important as the world-wide focus of George Green himself.  The Mill was one of several mills along the ridge at Windmill Lane and this is itself is a worthy part of the heritage story of the site. Recent heritage work at Sneinton Market has brought to the fore the food connections of this part of the City, and we hope to be able to add the ‘Working Lives’ researches to those of focussing on our national grain heritage to show how the history might be significant in feeding the city healthful foods in the future.   

Above: 1831 map by Staveley & Wood, showing a series of mills on Windmill Lane and the County Lunatic Asylum. In the following decades, Sneinton was linked to Nottingham by housing and institutional buildings

Heritage provides the research which leads to future stability. Our Business Plan is based on new uses which have their roots firmly in the history, with the community very much in mind.

Tom Hughes & Wendy Honeyman Smith, April 2018

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