From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 50
March - April 1988
On The Promenade
In 1896 Albert Ball, later to become Sir Albert Ball, bought a parcel of land at the corner of Derby Road and Lenton Boulevard. With his brother Frederick, he submitted plans to the Town Council for the laying out on this land of three roads to be called Henry Road, Gloucester Avenue and Devonshire Promenade. The Council were not entirely happy with their proposals and refused them on the grounds that the streets were too narrow. Revised plans were resubmitted, but it took further revisions before the Ball brothers got the necessary approval. There was nothing very special about their plans for Henry Road and Gloucester Avenue but in the case of Devonshire Promenade they envisaged the creation of a private road to run beside the eastern edge of Lenton Recreation Ground, which opened some eight years earlier. Quite probably Albert and Frederick Ball felt that, given the outlook that future residents would enjoy, here was an opportunity to turn Devonshire Promenade into a rather distinctive development and charge more for the building plots.
The Promenade has provided the backdrop for many local photographs.
Here local schools celebrate Empire Day in 1910.
Albert Ball sold off almost all the building plots on the Promenade to other people but, perhaps as part of the sales package, Frederick Ball's architectural practice was involved in the design of quite a number of the houses. The chief person responsible for the other buildings was J.H. Cooper, the architect for J. Cooper, a relative one presumes, who had the terrace of eight houses erected at the Henry Road end of the street. While all the houses have a number of attractive features incorporated into their front elevations, No's 1 and 15, as befits 'corner' houses are of a slightly grander design. The City Council evidently recognises that here is a most attractive street of houses, for not only has it been included in the New Lenton Conservation Area, but the Council has also issued an Article 4 Direction on the Promenade, which means that the Council can prevent inappropriate changes in roofing material, windows, the application of stone cladding, rendering or the construction of small extensions which don't normally require planning permission. In this way it hopes to ensure that the look of the Promenade is not spoilt by thoughtless alterations. Nottingham has only issued Article 4 Directions in a handful of instances, which makes Devonshire Promenade rather special.
If the street is regarded as rather special in its present state and 'time of life', the Promenade must have been quite something in its early years. The road surface was still in pristine condition; there were far more trees planted along its length and the grassed area between the roadway and the recreation ground had yet to suffer the ravages caused by parked cars. In fact vehicles were initially prohibited from parking on the grass - but in those years this was hardly a problem as so few residents actually owned cars. The Promenade was the exclusive province of its residents and to aid this exclusivity the main gates were padlocked and each household provided with its own key.
A July 2006 view of Devonshire Promenade, looking down
from its junction with Derby Road.
Devonshire Promenade was obviously quite a sought after address, even though most of the houses were only available on a rented basis, being owned by absentee landlords. The City Directories show a mixture of professional people and skilled artisans were among the many residents of the Promenade. No particularly illustrious names figure among the early years, though later on the local bandleader, Monty Sunshine, lived here in the 1930s-50s, as did Miss Maude Vardy who was Court dressmaker to the Duchess of Portland. In more recent years almost all the houses have been bought by their occupants. When they do change hands, the price agreed is usually somewhat higher than for comparable properties round about, reflecting that there are still many people around who relish the chance of living on the Promenade.
One major bugbear, however, is the present state of the road surface. So far residents have been thwarted in their efforts to get it improved. To have it formally adopted would mean spending a large sum of money having it done up to the required standard before the Council would consider taking it over. At one time the Council was considering a partnership scheme whereby the road was done up and the cost shared between the residents and the Council. The Council, however, has dropped the idea and it looks as if the residents must find all the cost of any improvements. Given that not all householders may wish or be in a position to contribute towards the improvements, the remaining residents feel somewhat reluctant to shoulder the extra costs. So until a financial solution can be found, all those who choose to promenade along the street better keep their eyes resolutely fixed on the ground or else they may come a cropper.