The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

The Tottle Brook

Photographs | The old Paddling Pool | The Tottle Brook from the old Paddling Pool onwards | The Tottle Brook from the Croquet Club onwards | The Tottle Brook from the Science Park onwards | Memories | Map


The following sequences of photographs show the Tottle Brook at different points as it flows through Highfields Park. The course of the stream can be seen in the above plan of the park which is adapted from one of the display boards currently erected within the park. Our sequence of photographs begins on the left of the map and carries on until we reach the point on the map where the stream appears to disappear from view as it goes into a culvert prior to being directed under University Boulevard.

The old Paddling Pool

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

An undated shot of the paddling pool in its pomp but it must have been taken before the toilet block that was built in close proximity in the mid-1950s arrived on the scene.

The lack of an adequate water purification system prompted the City Council to do away with the paddling pool in the early 1980s. When first created the water supply had been provided by the Tottle Brook. As can be seen from this photograph taken in September 2005 the essential structure of the pool remained without any water in it.

The western end of the paddling pool was where the water from the Tottle Brook would originally have entered the pool. Now the stream is culverted so that bi-passes the pool altogether and the original entry point was blocked up as can be seen in this photograph.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Clem Rutter - 2010

However after heavy rain the pool filled with water as shown in this photograph taken in August 2005. The water then gradually seeped back into the ground or else evaporates away.

The previous photograph illustrated how you can be 'conned' by the way the photographer takes the photograph. A more realistic shot of the amount of water contained in the old paddling pool is shown in this photograph taken on the same day.

The old paddling pool, devoid of any water and extraneous vegetation, as it looked in 2010. Photograph taken by Clem Rutter.

Photograph by David Lally

Photograph by David Lally - 2016

Photograph courtesy of Highfields Facebook page - 2020

By 2016, when David Lally took this shot, nature has begun to reclaim the 'paddling pool' for its own.

A close up by David Lally of the vegetation growing on the old paddling pool in 2016.

Funding from the European Regional Development Fund has enabled Highfields Park to complete the 'paddling pool' project and create a new pond on its former site complete with the wooden boardwalk - as seen in this 2020 photograph from the Highfields Park facebook page.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Having entered the paddling pool at the western end the waters of the Tottle Brook would have flowed under this road bridge and on through the park. Instead the water from the culvert re-enters the bed of the stream at this point.

A slightly closer picture of the bridge and accessing the larger version of this shot it becomes evident that the bridgework is actually precast concrete rather than stone.

The Tottle Brook from the old Paddling Pool onwards

Photograph courtesy of Highfields Park

Photograph courtesy of Highfields Park

Photograph courtesy of Highfields Park

Money from the European Regional Development Fund meant a project could get underway in 2019 to create a wetland area within the park while also improving the course of the Tottle Brook.

This is an early shot after one of the ponds have been established.

In this image taken in November 2019 the work is nearing completion. Once the plants start to grow in 2020 we should see a rapid greening of this part of the park.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

The Tottle Brook as viewed from the bridge in the previous two photographs. In this and subsequent present day shots it is evident that the immediate vicinity of the stream is left to grow wild in order to provide a more suitable environment for the local wildlife living in this area.

Taken in September 2019 this photograph shows the amount of vegetation that can grow by the end of the season alongside the Tottle Brook.

The area has been planted with various different species of tree. The willow in this photograph is one you would expect to find in the vicinity of water.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

A feature of the park and University Boulevard itself is the magnificent beech trees - a couple of which can be seen in this photograph. The Tottle Brook is just visible on the right of the picture.

There are various points along its route when you can cross from one side of the stream to the other. The more adventurous can use the stepping stones placed on the bed of the stream as shown in this 2005 photograph.

The less adventurous wishing to gain access to the area where the azaleas grow have this more conventional means.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by #####

No doubt some could get from one bank to the other via this rope swing. However most of those who use this swing are quite content to return to the same bank once they have been out over the water.

This old picture postcard taken in the 1930s contains a view of the Tottle Brook as it comes in close proximity to the lake . The manicured banks are very different to what we see today.

This 2005 shot was taken at the same point as the 1930s view but looking back along the stream to the tree with the rope swing.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

The Tottle Brook lies to the right of this 2005 photograph which focuses its main attention on the lakeside path as we approach the entrance to the park from University Boulevard.

The bridge over the Tottle Brook that provides access to the park near the Croquet Club is of a far superior standard to that by the paddling pool. Given the additional ornamental features included at this point it is evident that the original intention was to make the view from the bridge quite something. However the subsequent creation of flowerbeds alongside both sides of the path as it passes over the stream means that all these additional features are largely hidden from view.

This is a view from the bridge looking back along the stream taken in the 1930s and used on a picture postcard. The lake lies off to the right and the bowling greens are out of the picture on the left.

The Tottle Brook from the Croquet Club onwards

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

The bridge viewed from the eastern side as the waters of the Tottle Brook move slowly downstream.

Beyond the Tottle Brook are the croquet lawns and the club house of Nottingham Croquet Club.

Further along is another small bridge that allows you to move from one side of the brook to the other.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

This is the point at which the waters of the Tottle Brook disappear into a culvert prior to passing beneath University Boulevard when the stream can be seen reappearing on the other side of the road.

This copse of trees is also visible on the left of the background in the previous photograph - a fairly recent creation as can be seen from the information provided on the plaque erected alongside it.

This is a close up of the plaque and the actual wording becomes apparent once you access the larger version of this photograph.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

The same point on the Tottle Brook as in the photograph above it. In this you glimpse a little of the parkland that lies beyond it.

The Tottle Brook from the Science Park onwards

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph courtesy of Paul Bexon

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Looking down into the bed of the Tottle Brook in July 2005 with the vegetation in such a luxurient state that our view of the water itself is totally obscured

Until a new channel for the Tottle Brook was created in the late 1960s/early 70s the brook flowed past the end of the gardens of the end properties on the south side of Beeston Road. It can be seen doing so in this wedding day photograph of Muriel and Geoff Bexon taken in the garden of No. 131 on 21 June 1941.

Part of the buildings fronting on to the Tottle Brook with the joint footpath/cyclepath leading back to University Boulevard visible on the right.

PPhotograph by Paul Bexon - 2008

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2005

Each year the vegetation growing immediately beside the Tottle Brook is cut back. This 2008 photograph shows the same view as in the previous shot but before the growing season gets underway.

Another shot taken just further along the footpath than in the previous photograph at the point where the Tottle Brook turns southwards for a short while.

The view of the Tottle Brook you get once you reach brookside from the City Road access point.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2008

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2008

Practically the same view as in the previous photograph but as this was taken in March 2008 the vegetation on banks of the Tottle Brook has yet to get growing.

Turning through 180 degrees we now get to see the entrance to the culvert that directs the waters of the Tottle Brook underground as it continues its journey across Dunkirk.


Peter B Neale [who then lived on Wollaton Road, Beeston]

I can recall that in the 1930s the Tottle Brook was still an open stream as it ran southwards along the western side of Wollaton Vale. It went into a culvert as the stream approached Derby Road in the vicinity of the Majestic cinema at Lenton Abbey. At this time only a few houses had actually been erected on Wollaton Vale - half a dozen quite big properties or so they seemed then. The stream would run along the end of their gardens. As kids we used to play in the stream which was then straddled by a dense 'tunnel' of hawthorns. We used to dam the brook and walk along the dried bed as though recreating the parting of the Red Sea. A mini lake would build up behind the dam and so we would continue to raise the wall of our dam in order to contain it. On one occasion we were disturbed by a man shaking his fist and shouting abuse at us. He claimed that his fish were dying, as they lay gasping in his dried out pond - caused by our stemming the water flow of the stream. He was running along the bed in an extremely agitated fashion. We chose to flee but before we did so we kicked in the dam and a wall of water burst through the gap causing quite a commotion as the householder had to leap for the bank. We were not so much frightened as prostrated with laughter.

Martin Harrison

The Tottle Brook played a formative part in my early years. It rises in what was known as "Snaky Woods" flows down Park Side and under Derby Road (A52). It made a brief appearance behind what was the Essoldo picture theatre before being piped under Woodside Road. Prior to late 1950s Woodside Road ended at the boundary of the Lenton Abbey Estate and it was only later that an extension was constructed through to University Boulevard. Woodside Road terminated in a corrugated iron fence, which to the kids of Lenton Abbey was known as the 'tins'. Between the tins and Beeston Lane was farmland, through which the Tottle Brook flowed free. Part of this land between the Tottle Brook and what is now the Woodside Road extension was leased to the Lenton Gregory's football team as their home ground. Dairy cattle had free access to this area and before each of Lenton Gregory's home games cow pats had to be removed or at least as many as they could.

For a Lenton Abbey lad, the Tottle Brook and this farmland was our playground. "Going to play over tins" was what we told our parents and they were quite happy. How can you misbehave in a cow paddock?

Well... I don't think it is misbehaving. We lit fires and tried to roast potatoes stolen from the fields, a practice known as "scrumping". Scrumping also applied to apples, pears and peaches from Boots experimental farm on Beeston Lane but that's another story. We tried to cook the potatoes on our fires. Most of the time they were ended up raw with a coating of charcoal, or if we got distracted, turned completely into charcoal. Stream jumping was a very popular activity. A sort of 'follow the leader' game where five or six lads would wend their way along the banks, the leader jumping from one bank of the brook to the other, with all the others following on behind. It inevitably ended in someone getting a 'bootie', that is, not making the opposite side and ending with a boot full of water, sometimes two and occasionally falling fully in.

Down near the crossing, about midway between the tins and Beeston Lane, at the point where the dairy cows used to cross the Tottle Brook after having grazed on Lenton Gregory's pitch in order to make their way back to the milking sheds, there was a swing. It had a rope strung from a branch of a large tree which overhung the brook, with an old bicycle frame attached. We would hang on to this and climb up the trunk of the tree and swing out over the Tottle Brook. Boys being boys, I can remember a couple of kids not being 'permitted' to land back on the bank and who would be left to swing in ever decreasing arcs until they let go and fell into the brook.

Preceding Bonfire Night there was the ready acquisition of bangers. A Little Demon, a very powerful explosive firework in the late 1950s, placed in a cow pat was good fun, if you were the one doing the placing.

A big thing for us was the 'tunnel' which took the waters of the Tottle Brook under Beeston Lane and on to Highfields paddling pool in a five foot concrete pipe. The challenge was to go down it and through to Highfields. On one particular occasion I remember taking a maggot tin belonging to my elder brother from our shed in which we put a lighted candle and allowed it to float along through the tunnel. We three intrepid explorers followed the light of the floating candle. It was very scary as the tin floated faster than we wanted to go and there were all sorts of spider's webs and scary things in there, not to mention the smell. Finally we got to the outlet at Highfields paddling pool only to discover that it was barred and we couldn't get out. That is when we discovered that the Tottle Brook's depth goes from five inches to five foot just before the outlet into the paddling pool. We returned by the same route without the benefit of the candle and with our leader, thankfully not me, a very wet explorer.


As children in the mid-sixties we would gain access under the culverted eastern end of Tottle Brook through a gap in the railings, we must have been slim and very flexible indeed back then.

Anyway as enthusiastic but somewhat incompetent anglers, our eyes were on stalks. The channel was full of fat tench, perch and roach and if I recall correctly, one or two carp. It was an absolute aquarium and the fish larger than anything we had ever seen.

I can only assume there was a run-off from the lake and in flood some fish would be swept through the bars into the cut. I find it unlikely they would have made their way up from the Trent. Out of harm's way and with a steady supply of food from the lake they just got fatter.

Even allowing for the distortions of childhood and the passing years it was an astonishing sight that has remained with me ever since. I can't believe we were the only people who knew about them, though accessing them beyond the age of about seven would have been impossible.

From memory there is a barred run-off from the lake which joins Tottle Brook in the underground section where we saw the fish. Almost all the one's I saw were too big to get through so I can only deduce there was a ready supply of bread for the ducks, worms and insects swept over, as well as food entering from the brook.

With little competition and no obvious predators the fish just got bigger. Daylight from the bars and no doubt at the southern end where the culvert emerged meant life wasn't totally underground.

Let us know your past and present memories of The Tottle Brook

Do you have any historical information or other photographs of this area? If so, email us with the details or write to us.

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