HRH the Duke of Edinburgh inspects a guard of honour in the Old Market Square, 1950s. Source: Nottinghamshire Archives

Nottingham loves a parade

Originally published in 2012 as part of theSpace arts project funded by Arts Council England and the BBC

Derrick Buttress, a contemporary of Sillitoe, describes the parades which have marched through the square over the decades.

Nottingham folk love a parade. Over the years I have watched cub-scouts and A.R.P. wardens, soldiers, sailors and airmen, nurses and school-children march behind drums and bugles leading them to the Council House steps.

Howitt designed a sunken Processional Way through the Square, but it was rarely used, perhaps because steps are a hazard when you are marching with your head held high. It must be difficult to know where to place your feet, going up and down steps, when your eyes are fixed straight ahead. That is probably the reason why most parades took a route to the Council House, avoiding the Processional Way, by stepping out along South Parade or Long Row instead.

When General Dwight Eisenhower arrived in Nottingham on his victory tour of 1945, he was dropped off in front of the Council House in a limousine rather than being made to walk the length of the Processional Way. A great crowd cheered and clapped him enthusiastically for winning the Second World War for us, and I did my share. He seemed to be having a good time. I liked the look of him, but as I was only 14 years old at the time, I might not have been a completely reliable judge of character.

The parade I remember most vividly was in 1959 when Jack Burkitt, the Nottingham Forest skipper, led his triumphant team along the Processional Way holding the F.A. cup aloft while the crowd went wild. The team had beaten Luton 2-1 with only ten men. I was hanging out of an office window on South Parade and will never forget Elton John’s Uncle Roy struggling out of the team bus on crutches to be assisted into a wheelchair. Roy Dwight had scored the first goal, and then broke his leg. He got a bigger cheer for that goal than General Eisenhower did for freeing Europe.

This unforgettable parade was the presage to the triumphant return to Nottingham by Brian Clough’s European Cup heroes. But emotionally, I think the 1959 occasion was more deeply felt by those of us who had dreamed of such a day through years of Second Division mediocrity.


Related Links:

Pixels on Parade: Then and Now
Photomontages of the Old Market Square (1949 meets 2012)

The Sillitoe Trail

Take your own interactive tour of the author’s city and follow in Arthur Seaton’s footsteps around Nottingham, exploring the real locations of key scenes from the novel. You can go back to the Old Market Square or visit The White Horse pub, the Raleigh factory, the River Trent and Goose Fair. For updated content, visit Sillitoe Trail Xtra

Follow: Arthur Seaton @Thespacelathe on Twitter

Download: Sillitoe Trail Factory Handbook (17MB PDF)


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