From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 14
September - October 1981
Tell Tale Tracks
by Philip Prior (the nom de plume of Reg Meakin)
A sketch of the ancient trackway
About 50 years ago I attended a talk on 'The Origins of Nottingham' given by John Holland Walker. Mr. Holland Walker, who died in 1960, was for many years honorary secretary of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire and used to give talks on various aspects of Nottingham's history. In this particular talk, he mentioned that the village of Lenton might well have developed where it did, because it was at the crossing point of two ancient trackways. Unfortunately, Mr. Holland Walker never put this interesting thought into print, so I take it upon myself to do so.
As you can see from the sketch map, Mr. Holland Walker thought there used to be an ancient trackway, which came down from the North and entered the Nottingham area roughly along the line of the Mansfield Road. Where the city centre has now developed, it turned through Hollowstone and went across Narrow Marsh, at the end of the present London Road and forded the Trent at about the site of the present Trent Bridge. Once across the river, the trackway carried onto the Leicester region and beyond. At a point somewhere slightly north of Newstead, so Mr. Holland Walker believed, the trackway had a side branch carrying down the River Leen valley. It would have continued through Radford and Lenton probably following the line of the present Gregory Street, and then crossing the Trent by ford at Wilford. As the main north to south track ran over the rather dry Bunter Sandstone area of the ancient Forest where there were few watercourses crossing it, Mr. Holland Walker suggested that tribes herding cattle or other livestock might well have preferred to go by the Leen valley branch route as they would have had water all the way, with possible settlements with pasture land on the route. Once across the Trent the drovers could have then continued alongside Fairham Brook and once over Bunny Hill, they would have been in the Soar valley.
A further trackway came across from the Derby area and ran east along the higher ground of the Trent valley and eventually went on towards the Lincoln region. Mr. Holland Walker thought that a section of this trackway in Lenton eventually became Cut-through Lane. Cut-through Lane was, until quite recently, merely a footpath and formerly a packhorse track from Broadgate in Beeston across to Lenton. It has now been developed into one of the roads across the University campus. This trackway continued on through Spring Close, now no more following the building of the Queen's Medical Centre, and crossed Gregory Street somewhere between Derby Road and Leengate. The track then kept to the higher ground of The Park and crossed the other track at Nottingham.
Crossing points have often proved to be the impetus for the siting of a settlement and these two particular crossing points might have prompted some of our ancestors to erect settlements for trading purposes. Mr. Holland Walker may well have been right in his conjecture. Without any firm evidence in its favour, however, it must remain merely a conjecture, but I hope you will agree all interesting one.