The Nottingham Riveria
For those of us of a certain vintage the term ‘Nottingham-on-Sea’ applied not to the East Midlands city but to the Lincolnshire resort of Skegness a couple of hours drive east. ‘Skeggy’ as it has always been abbreviated has always been a traditional getaway destination from Nottingham – especially for a day trip by the sea. The fact that arriving in Skegness still leaves a healthy walk to the briny depths of the murky, chilly North Sea makes no difference to the resort’s popularity with Nottingham folk and also visitors from the likes of Leicester, Derby and Sheffield.
Let’s make no bones about it, if you enjoy to be beside the seaside then Nottingham is hardly the place to base yourself. It’s not exactly the furthest destination from the coast in this small island of ours but it’s still heckuva land-locked in geography and travelling time.
Back in the 1990s’ the local council struck up the idea that bringing the seaside to Nottingham might be an option. They did this during three summers in the Lace City during that decade. My fragile memory also tells me that this indeed happened in the 1970s’ on one occasion too as part of the sadly aborted ‘Nottingham Festival’ of the time. This is not to be seen reported anywhere in the media though I note. I know what I saw though, those donkeys for one thing…
Nottingham boasts a ‘new’ Old Market Square these days. It’s former design has been manipulated into an arguably inferior looking area but one that is infinitely more practical to use for events. This is due to the levelling of the former ‘Processional Way’ through the centre of the old market area that was. In recent times this has provided a home for ‘The Nottingham Eye’ ferris wheel, an outdoor ice rink with accompanying German Christmas Market, music stages and other sundry events.
Now the city fathers have decided to resurrect the idea of the notion of bringing the pleasures of beach life directly into the city centre. Organisers claim that this version will be ‘bigger and better than before’. Where 50,000 tonnes of the sandy stuff was getting between Nottinghamian’s toes and into their sandwiches in the past, this time a full 300,000 tonnes will be dumped underneath the feet of shoppers, office workers and curious passers by. In addition a large boardwalk and paddling pool will augment the summer scene. To complete the full English seaside ‘experience’ there will be crazy golf, deckchairs and a specially created ‘Nottingham Rock’ confectionary. Let’s not forget the ubiquitous presence of the traditional donkey rides either.
The city centre will also fulfil all your Punch and Judy needs too I’m happy to say, perhaps just the fillip after some hard gazing at the sandcastle building contests.
I’m personally going to give this initiative a break. It’s a fun idea if not necessarily an original one but let’s see what transpires. Unfortunately, some of us here in Nottingham have learned the hard way to retain a slightly cynical approach to these grandiose statements of developments and entertainment events in the city which have all-too-often failed to live up to expectations and promises. I have some disquiet about the continued domination by one particular set of organisers who seem to have been controlling the majority of events that are organised in the Old Market Square for some time now. Maybe that’s just me but I suspect not.
The Nottingham Riviera opens on July 22 and closes on September 5.