The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

The Cockle Man of Nottingham

I like this man. Dave Bartram, The ‘Cockle Man’ has been a familiar sight and local character around Nottingham’s pubs since before my first student steps into the city’s many and varied hostelries in the mid-seventies. Dave’s cry of ‘cockles, mussels’ often bringing a response of ‘alive a live-oh!’ in the likes of the Elizabethan Bar in the Bell Inn where I would often see him and the many other public houses where Dave can be found doing his rounds, as he has been since the 1960s

Additionally, each pot of seafood sold to people in Nottingham’s bars these days sees a donation heading towards the Rainbows Hospice for young people and children.


Dave Bartram, Nottingham’s ‘Cockle Man’

I applaud these fabled great characters of the city like the Cockle Man, people such as Sally the ‘painter girl’ and the late Frank Robinson, also known as ‘Xylophone Man’. In a bland generally characterless modern society these individuals bring colour, fibre and identity to a city.

At the age of 70, Dave, walking along a precinct from The Thurland Arms to The Old Dog And Partridge, was jumped and attacked. As he has professed before, he tried to protect himself with his big basket, what a man. After the incident, whilst being examined by doctors at the Nottingham City hospital, Dave was found to have a cancer diagnosis. Crucially however, a very treatable one that was fortunate enough to be found in its early stages.

I’m happy that some somewhat unlikely good has come out of this story.

Long live ‘The Cockle Man’.

‘The show must go on’ for Nottingham’s famous cockle man after mugging attempt and cancer diagnosis


March 26, 2017 - Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , ,


  1. Hi Stuart,
    No, I’m not a stalker…but since your email address had your full name I did a little research and here you are. I’ve been enjoying reading some of your stories…this one touched my heart as I’m glad some good came of the mugging attempt…I think cockles and mussels sound divine…and through this story and others what a kind heart you have…

    Ana…Florence, OR

    Comment by Ana | December 12, 2017

  2. Hello Ana!

    Thank you for taking the time to read, very kind, thanks also for your kind words.

    I’m pleased to report that the Cockle Man is still carrying out his rounds in Nottingham, having spotted shi still sprightly figure recently popping into one of the many pubs he visits. Long may he continue!

    Comment by Stuart | December 12, 2017

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