This is a (very much incomplete) timeline of Nottingham’s history. We will add to it over time. Quite a bit of information has been taken from the Nottingham Date Book (1884; referenced as DB Vol. I or II).
Four persons from Nottingham are arrested and interrogated in London after they were accused of being members of the Lollards.
Charles I raises his standard in Nottingham, beginning the English Civil War. The town is sacked during an unsuccessful attack by Royalist forces.
A Digger settlement is established somewhere in Nottinghamshire. It appears that Gerrard Winstanley came to Nottingham around this time.
High cheese prices result in severe Food Riots. One person is shot dead by the military. The events become known as the ‘Great Cheese Riot’.
The introduction of the ‘spinning jenny’, enabling a single worker to spin a multitude of threads, causes riots as workers fear for their livelihoods. The prototype and a number of machines are destroyed.
The rejection of a bill to regulate the framework knitters’ trade triggers serious riots. Over five days, workers from town and county damage hosiers’ houses and break frames. The promise of negotiations ends the riots, but the hosiers’ subsequent refusal to compromise leads to further direct action, only quelled after a large scale mobilisation of troops and special constables.
During celebrations staged for the king’s birthday, armed military officers and locals clash on Market Square, leaving a number of people severely injured.
A drop in the rates of pay causes a riot by framework knitters. Over two days, hosiers’ windows are smashed etc. Military repeatedly attack the rioters and although the crowds resist fiercely, they are finally subdued by the soldiers’ swords and bullets. At least one person is killed, others severely wounded.
A number of framework knitters break a hosier’s frame.
High prices trigger a Food Riot. ‘Great quantities’ of meat are taken.
Quarrels over an election cause rioting. Soldiers fire into crowds, killing one man and wounding a number of other persons.
Having their income yet again reduced by hosiers, framework knitters attack several houses. Troops arrest numerous rioters.
A number of framework knitters from the county assemble and try to negotiate with a hosier. Though unprovoked, soldiers charge into the crowd of workers who fight back, reinforced by numerous town dwellers. A brutal engagement leaves a number of people injured.
High prices for meat trigger a Food Riot. Temporarily dispersed by military, rioters later reassemble, trash the Shambles and use the debris to create a huge bonfire in Market Square.
A number of persons suspected of being supporters of the French Revolution are attacked in a field near the town. The same royalists attack the mayor’s home. One is shot dead, others injured.
Over the course of a few weeks, royalists attack suspected radicals and democrats, e.g. laying siege to a cotton mill where republicans sought refuge. Royalists round up their opponents and ‘duck’ them under pumps on Market Square and in the Leen, torturing and almost drowning many persons. At least one dies following this ordeal.
A Food Riot caused by high prices of meat is quelled by Yeomanry and Dragoons.
Another Food Riot occurs, this time due to the high price of wheat. Rioters go round bakers’ shops, setting and enforcing what they deem appropriate prices.
Suspicions that a baker is hoarding grain to raise the price cause yet another Food Riot. It is quelled by Yeomanry and Dragoons. The crowd is fired upon and one person wounded, others are arrested.
A heated election escalates into a riot. Following clashes with royalists, supporters of the radical candidate escort him out of town. A fierce fight in Chapel-bar ends as the royalists are routed.
High prices cause a Food Riot in which large amounts of provisions are taken. A number of people are arrested by the military and imprisoned.
Over the course of four days, Food Rioters seize highly priced provisions all over town, the military being unable to stop them. Only a heavy storm can put an end to the expropriations.
A reformist candidate supported by the Foxite Corporation is victorious in elections in the city. There is a triumphant procession accompanied by a band playing Ca Ira and the Marseillaise.
Rioting spreads across UK. In Nottingham army officers are stoned out of a theatre after they try to get the audience to sing “God Save the King”.
1811-2 and 1816-7
These years are marked by the widespread frame breaking by ‘Luddites’ who carry out well organised armed raids in the town and the county. Specific models of frames, thought to be putting people out of work, and frames owned by hosiers cutting workers’ incomes are systematically smashed. As local law enforcers are outsmarted and the practice rapidly spreads throughout the region, large numbers of soldiers are deployed. Some raids escalate, causing deaths and serious injuries on both sides. Eventually the repression succeeds. Numerous people are imprisoned, transported or hung.
Luddite movement begins in Nottingham.
When Luddite John Westley is killed on November 10 his funeral leads to the Riot Act being read in several places in Nottingham.
Spencer Perceval, the prime minister, is assassinated in the House of Commons. In Nottingham residents celebrate, parading through the streets.
On-going tensions between royalists and radicals escalate into a riot in a theatre as the latter refuse the royalists’ command to take off their hats to sing the national anthem.
Famine causes two days of Food Riots. They start as a person carries a loaf on a stick over the market. One person is carried aloft by the crowd in a chair, dubbed ‘Lady Ludd’. Rioters are joined by militia troops.
The funeral of Luddite James Towle takes place in November. Although clerical magistrate Dr Wylde forbade the reading of the burial service, 3,000 people attended.
8,000-10,000 framework knitters walk out in a nine week strike.
An ill-fated attempt at armed insurrection, later known as the ‘Pentrich rebellion’, is swiftly ended and a number of persons executed. The uprising had been egged on and betrayed by a government agent provocateur known as ‘Oliver’ (who subsequently emigrated).
Hosier workers in the city attempt unsuccessfully to organise a general strike.
Source: Bryson: ‘Portrait of Nottingham’
A hosier strike across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire lasts two months, but again ends unsuccessfully. 5,000 people parade daily with placards “Pity Our Distress… We Ask For Bread” the government responds by dispatching troops to Bromley House as a checkpoint against revolution.
In March 9,000 city residents sign a petition calling for electoral reform.
Following the defeat of a very moderate parliamentary reform bill in the House of Lords, the ‘Reform Riots’ erupt as large numbers of people militantly respond to the hated ‘boroughmongers’ yet again succeeding in defending their privileges. Houses of known Tories, as well as dwellings and shops of their supporters and various law enforcers are attacked all over Nottingham. Crowds target the property of local grandees, such as the 4th Duke of Newcastle. Colwick Hall is trashed, Nottingham Castle and a silk mill in Beeston burned down. An attempt to liberate prisoners from the House of Correction is thwarted by the military. Following the mobilisation of Yeomanry and large numbers of special constables, an attack on Wollaton Hall is also repelled. In the end two people are shot and wounded by the military. Three persons are subsequently hanged on the steps of Shire Hall (known today as the Galleries of Justice). See our pamphlet To the Castle!
A petition is organised, seeking remission of the sentence of Joseph Turner, transported for life for his role in the Pentrich Revolution sixteen years earlier. The petition is written by Mark Phillips, a member of the reformed 1832 Parliament.
Protests take place in Nottingham against the sentence passed on the Tolpuddle Martyrs. 2,000 trade unionists form up on the Forest and are joined by the Nottingham Female Union. The two groups marched together to Market Square accompanied by a band playing the national anthem and “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.
Source: Thomis/Grimmett: ‘Women in Protest 1800-1850’
Female Political Association formed in the city.
Source: Crawford: ‘The women’s suffrage movement in Britain and Ireland…’
1.3 million-strong Chartist petition presented to the House of Commons in July, 17,000 of the signatories were said to have come from Nottingham.
The Battle of Mapperley Hills. Around 5,000 Chartists assembled on Mapperley Plains, and troops arrested 400 men, leading to a riot.
Feargus O’Connor elected to Parliament, the only Chartist to become an MP.
Statue of Feargus O’Connor unveiled, 12-15,000 people turn up.
49 Nottingham women are among the signatures of a suffrage petition.
Source: Crawford: ‘The women’s suffrage movement in Britain and Ireland…’
The Great Depression hits Nottingham, the Nottingham Journal comments: “Prices have risen enormously, incomes have remained stationary, and the result has been that the purchasing power of money is in all probability somewhere about thirty-three per cent less than it was ten years ago. […] there can be no question that the rise of prices is a serious matter to people with fixed or small incomes, and we fear there is small consolation before them in the future.”
Source: The Nottingham Journal 09.06.1873.
That year also sees a strike in the textile industry: “This dispute developed into the greatest the trade had yet seen and a great deal of bitterness was generated.”
Source: Wyncoll, Peter (1985): The Nottingham Labour Movement 1880-1939; Lawrence and Wishart; London, p22.
Foundation of the Lace Makers’ Union.
Source: Mason, Sheila A. (1994): Nottingham Lace 1760s-1950s – The Machine-made Lace Industry in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire; The Alden Press; Oxford/Northampton, p176.
In February 1909 Helen Watts, daughter of the vicar of Lenton, was arrested, along with other suffragettes, for marching on Parliament.
Haystack worth £100 destroyed near Nottingham by suffragettes.
Suffragettes set fire to timber sheds at Great Central Railway Station.
Source: New York Times
In response to Britain’s aggressive stance towards Poland, trade unionists in Nottingham, Newcastle and Liverpool attempt to organise.
Source Clinton: ‘The trade union rank and file: trades councils in Britain, 1900-40’
General Strike. The Evening Post is forced to suspend publication, public transport is affected.
D.H. Lawrence writes Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but it is not published until 1960.
A number of Notts residents travel to Spain to fight in the Civil War.
More: Evening Post
Striking miners at Harworth Colliery in Nottinghamshire, who were arrested in April 1937 during disturbances orchestrated by the police are defended by the National Council for Civil Liberties (which would later become Liberty)
More on Harworth from the Communist Party’s archives
The NUM is founded at a conference held in Nottingham.
West Indian immigrants in St Anns riot. In the aftermath, an enterprising bus company apparently offered tours of the riot-torn streets.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is finally published, leading to a trial under the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
A group of West Indians, mainly from the island of St Kitts, held a carnival parade in the Meadows.” Despite difficulties the event went on to become an annual attraction.
Nottingham Campaign for Homosexual Equality holds its first meeting.
More: Notts Rainbow Heritage
Mushroom Bookshop opens its doors.
The Anti-Nazi League is formed in the days following the Battle of Lewisham. Brian Clough is amongst the signatories of the founding statement.
The Committee for Homosexual Equality holds its conference in Nottingham. Taking over the Commodore for its meetings and what was then the Albany Hotel on Maid Marian Way for visiting delegates. The conference made headline news mainly because of the invitation of a Dutch professor who had made a study of paedophiles. Gay men may have been branded as paedophiles, but the newspapers did not appreciate them discussing the truth about that stereotyping.
More: Notts Rainbow Heritage
Evening Post journalists begin strike action.
Hyson Green is shaken by rioting between 10th-17th July.
The Miners’ Strike.
The Rainbow Centre obtained premises at 180 Mansfield Road, next door to the new Friends of the Earth shop in Nottingham.
Nottingham and District Trades Union Council celebrates its centenary.
When the Poll Tax in Nottingham is set, campaigners burst into the council chamber on the 5th March and custard pie several councillors.
Source: Evening Post; 5th March 1990.
A memorial at County Hall, to the Nottinghamshire volunteers of the British Battalion was unveiled by the Spanish Ambassador to Britain.
32 fascists from ex-coalfields in Notts/Derby arrested after causing damage and assault in Nottingham’s ‘Mushroom Books’ on 15th January.
Source: Counter Information
When Nottingham Carnival faces the axe, local pressure including demonstrations forces the council to seek outside help.
Mushroom Bookshop goes into voluntary liquidation.
The National Front try to hold an “anti-paedophile protest” outside Nottingham Prison and are challenged by around 400 protesters.
Sumac Centre opens.
Nottingham Radical History Group formed.
Nottinghamshire County Council, under the Tory council leader Kay Cutts, rearranged the Spanish Civil War Memorial and de facto conceals every political context to those who do not know what the memorial is referring to.