Old Market Square

The Old Market Square is an open, pedestrianised city square in Nottingham, England. It is the largest such surviving square in the United Kingdom, forming the heart of the city.

Located in the heart of Nottingham City Centre. The Eastern end of the square is dominated by the Council House, which serves as Nottingham's town hall.

Old Market Square in Nottingham

The nature of the square means it is often used for large local events, fairs, concerts and exhibitions.

The square has long been at the centre of Nottingham life. In the early days before the City of Nottingham was formed, the area was the centre-point between the Norman town of Nottingham, situated around the Castle Rock, and the old Anglo-Saxon town which was based around the current Lace Market at St. Mary's Church, also called Snothryngham, Snottingaham or Snottingham.

The central point between the two towns became a major market point, and hence the square has been at the centre of Nottingham's growth around it for hundreds of years since.

The two towns were once divided by a wall. The old positioning of this historic wall was reinstated when the square was redesigned in the 2000s, with a stainless steel drainage channel down the centre of the Square.

The square was the original setting of Nottingham Goose Fair, an annual fair held in October originating over 700 years ago. The Goose Fair was moved in 1928 for redevelopment of the square.

It is the location of Smith's Bank which, established in 1688, was the earliest provincial bank in England. Its successor, the National Westminster Bank, is still located in the same premises.

When the Nottingham Exchange was demolished and the new Nottingham Council House built, the Square was redesigned in 1927 with several platforms creating a central procession way.

However, the decline in the quality, changes in function, and issues surrounding disabled access spurred a City Council-led international redevelopment competition in 2003 known as Square One.

Construction of the new design cost 17 million pounds. Work began there in 2005 and The Square reopened in March 2007.

Historically the Square forms a meeting place for the people of Nottingham and is also the location for local events, civic protests, royal visits, celebrations, and public mourning. A number of Nottingham's defining moments have taken place in the Square.

One of the most significant civil protests to start here was the protest by Luddites (a social movement of British textile artisans) in the early nineteenth century, who protested growth in industrial machinery which was seen to be taking jobs. This protest eventually led to major destruction of the medieval Nottingham Castle.

Trophies won by Nottingham Forest Football Club including the European Cup and the FA Cup have all been held aloft in front of crowds here. Nottingham ice dance legends Torvill and Dean also stood on the Council House balcony following their famous Olympic Triumph.

The Bell Inn, thought to be one of the UK's oldest pubs dating back to around 1276, also sits at the back of the Square.

Folklore has it that it was in the Market Square where outlaw Robin Hood took advantage of an amnesty and won the coveted silver arrow in a contest devised by the Sheriff of Nottingham. This contest forms the central plot to the Disney version of Robin Hood.

In December every year, the Square hosts a Weihnachtsmarkt (German Christmas Market), and is the centre of local New Year's Eve celebrations.

In February 2008, a Ferris wheel was installed in Market Square. The wheel was nicknamed the Nottingham Eye but after legal pressure from the owners of the London Eye it was changed to the Whelle of Nottingham.

Two large stone lions guard the Council House steps, and they have historically been a popular symbol of the city. The 'Left Lion' has long since been adopted by locals as a meeting place.

Since the 1927 design of the square, there have been water fountains present. Two fountains flanked the central procession in the centre of individual square pools. These remained until the redesign by Kathryn Gustafson was completed in 2007, when a new fountain and water feature was added towards the top end of the square.

On 22 February 2009 Nottingham’s Speaker's Corner was officially opened by Jack Straw (at the time, UK Justice Secretary). It was the first official Speakers’ Corner outside London. It is located on a new extension to the Market Square, which was added at the junction of King Street and Queen Street; with landscaping, and planting.

The square was designed to host public events and since the opening in 2007 a variety of successful events have been held including concerts and parades, May Day and St Georges Day celebrations, cycling events, and a regular local farmers market.

Go to the Old Market Square website for more...