The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Nottinghamshire History: The Lincolnshire Poacher

I’ve written previously about the numerous networks of caves that run under the city of Nottingham and some of it’s outlying suburbs such as the one I live in. They are many in number, not generally connected to other systems across the area and generally speaking, hand-hewn from the soft sandstone that the city lies on, for all sorts of reasons.

Some time ago, I came across an interesting academic article regarding the disused sand mines that line the main arterial Mansfield Road which leads directly out of the north side of Nottingham. Interesting to me, partly due to the fact that it’s a part of the city I use frequently, in particular for visits to The Lincolnshire Poacher pub just a few minutes walk up the same road heading towards to the old Rock Cemetery and Forest recreation ground, home of the annual Goose Fair.


I’d long been told that underneath The Lincolnshire Poacher and it’s neighbouring businesses there are deep caves which I assumed were the result of the sand mines originally in-situ. Notable in this is The Golden Fleece, another Mansfield Road hostelry close by which in the past has held charity abseiling events down it’s two-storey caves below the public house.

Last night I had the opportunity to visit The Poacher’s cellars briefly. Again, they are two-storied with the first level being traditional brick by construction. Interesting enough in their own right but it is when descending a further narrow staircase through the rock down to a second lower storey where things become quite remarkable and thought-provoking.


The ‘drop’



image IMAG1077

As can be seen in the above images, this part of the cellars is a hand-made cave, whether this is the result of former sand mining or excavated especially for this former dwelling house is not clear to me. Quite clearly, the indentations of tools used to scrape away the soft rock are apparent, forming a uniformly shaped ‘room’ complete with a ‘drop’ for beer barrels, at the end, leading down from the pub back yard.

The cellars are of course a busy working environment under the former Old Grey Nag’s Head, the pub’s previous incarnation and so are laden and scattered with beer barrels, bottled beers and the various paraphernalia required to serve the pub’s many satisfied and loyal customers. The atmosphere, as one might expect, is damp and temperate, the floor sticky and with a general feel of the labour required in keeping a busy city-centre pub replenished. Even in 2013 though there remains a little evocative history and a few questions outstanding deep under The Lincolnshire Poacher and the businesses and homes nearby.


April 19, 2013 - Posted by | On The Road, Times Gone By | , ,


  1. Chances are that it was dug out specifically to use as a pub cellar, was very common due to the sandstone caves keeping a constant temperature, useful for beer storage.

    A lot of the caves are not that old and were built as working environments. Malting was a common use.

    Comment by Andy (@NCCLols) | April 19, 2013

  2. Thanks for the comments, Andy. I tend to agree and what would back that up is the chute dug out for what looks like a beer barrel drop at the end. I was looking vainly for an excellent line drawing I’ve seen around of the sand mines under the length of Mansfield road up to St. Andrew’s Church but was unable to locate it.

    Agree, these caves with their temperate atmosphere are excellent for beer storage. I heard a theory that the quality reputation for Nottingham ales originally was due to the number of cave cellars in the past. There are/were two (and maybe several more) pubs in my own locality that had such caves in the Waggon & Horses, Redhill and the now-closed Grove Hotel at Daybrook. Certainly, the Wagon was always previously regarded for it’s quality ale.

    Comment by Stuart | April 19, 2013

  3. Interesting article and pictures Stuart.



    Comment by smith1980 | April 19, 2013

  4. Cheers Peter. Do find the subject quite intriguing.

    Comment by Stuart | April 19, 2013

  5. Thanks Stuart,
    Unlike most of us you have a very worthy hobby.
    Why am I interested?
    Born in Bulwell in 1961, I grew up and left Bestwood Park Estate for South Africa in 1985. I now live in Fourways on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

    I was also married in the Bestwood Chapel. My friends and I played and were the de-fault custodians of the Bestwood and Bombar woods from 1967 to 1980 as it was owned by the army and out of bounds to everyone. Magic!!!

    Many thanks buddy for you interest in such things.

    Comment by Martin | September 22, 2013

  6. I’d have been a kid playing up there at that time too, Martin. You must have some happy memories, as I have. Thanks for your comments.


    Comment by Stuart | September 24, 2013

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