After a break of a couple of weeks, I went out on another trip on a sunny October day in 2020. I was headed for Beeston in Nottinghamshire. It isn’t a new station for me; I changed trains at Beeston back in April 2019 on my trip to Sileby in Leicestershire. I was only there for about ten minutes on that occasion, and I always wanted to go back and have a proper look at the town.
As usual, the journey started at Burton on Trent station. There is a direct train service to Beeston from Burton which takes about 40 minutes. I got off the train in Beeston and headed up to the war memorial near the town centre, just to have a look at it.
From there, I walked to the town centre. I had to cross some tram lines on the way there, part of the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) system, which was extended to Beeston in 2015. I have plans to spend a day travelling the NET sometime soon, if another lockdown can be avoided.
Beeston was a major manufacturing centre in the 19th and 20th centuries for bicycles, motor cars and early telephone equipment. Internationally renowned pharmaceutical chain Boots the Chemist has its headquarters on a massive site in Beeston. The University of Nottingham’s main campus is located on the border of the town and Nottingham. Famous people from the area include the broadcaster Alice Levine, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, Porridge and Rising Damp actor Richard Beckinsale and the singer Edwin Starr, most famous for his 1970 anti-Vietnam song “War”, lived and died in the town. The latter three are immortalised on a mural near the town centre.
I had a quick walk through the town centre, which was fairly busy at the time. I didn’t go into any shops, I just went for a walk around Broadgate Park, a small play park popular with dog walkers and parents with children. In the centre of the park stands a memorial to local men killed in the Boer War which lasted from 1899 to 1902.
From the park, I made my way up the Broadgate to Highfields Park, a large public park with a boating lake. The park was developed by the landowner Joseph Lowe, and remained in the Lowe family until 1920, when it was bought by Sir Jesse Boot, founder of Boots the Chemist. He further developed the park and gifted the deeds of the land to Nottingham City Council in 1925, and they took full control of the park upon Jesse’s death in 1932. The park has sadly declined since its heyday in the 20th century, but plans are afoot to make improvements to it. It used to boast a lido (outdoor swimming area) as well as a paddling pool, but these have been removed.
Highfields Park has a set of stepping stones near a waterfall. I didn’t want to risk falling in, even though the water was about an inch deep, so I didn’t want to cross them. However, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a photo of the waterfall, so I carefully made my way across the stones and got some great pictures.
The park was quite busy, with students from the nearby university using it, joggers running about and tourists having a wander around the boating lake. There is a small island in the middle of the lake, accessible via bridges. There was nothing there except squirrels and trees, though.
After leaving the park at the eastern end, I once again crossed over some tram lines and made for the Nottingham canal towpath. I walked down a couple of side streets and on to an industrial estate, where I found the bridge that led to the towpath.
The Nottingham Canal was originally built from Langley Mill to Nottingham in the 1790s. Today, the only surviving part of the canal still in use is from Beeston Lock to the River Trent at Nottingham. Once I got past the industrial estate area and headed towards Beeston, it was a very pleasant and quiet walk, with just the occasional cyclist, jogger and fisherman to be seen. The canal flows past the headquarters of Boots, with a footbridge for staff on the site crossing the canal.
After an hour of walking by the canal, I left via a footbridge and walked up some residential streets and back to the railway station. I had a bit of time to spare before my train back to Burton, so I took some photos of the station. On platform 2, the Derby-bound side, there is an interesting photo gallery on the fence which traverses the platform, with information boards about the history of the station and the local area.
Beeston station opened in 1839, although the current main station building wasn’t built until 1847 when it replaced the original station building. As the town of Beeston grew as a manufacturing centre in the 19th century, the station’s goods facilities were expanded in order for the local industries to send their wares around the country. Originally, access across the platforms was via a level crossing, but an increase in road traffic in the 1960s led to the current station bridge being built and opened in 1966. The station building is staffed, with a ticket office and a cafe. A local group called Friends of Beeston Station look after the station and campaign for improvements to be made, which I always like to see.
In the late 1980s, declining passenger numbers and general neglect and vandalism of the station led to British Rail’s decision to close and demolish the station. However, a campaign by locals and rail enthusiasts led them to reconsider, and now the station has almost 600,000 passengers per year, with services from Beeston running to London St Pancras, Leicester, Lincoln, Birmingham, Cardiff and many other places.
My train back to Burton eventually arrived (a couple of minutes late), and so I got on it and went home. It was a good day, Beeston is a place that is well worth a visit. Thanks very much for reading, and you can follow the blog on all your favourite social media platforms using these handy links:
One thought on “Beeston and Nottingham”
Great to see you regularly boarding trains and taking us with you in words and images, Martyn! Ah, Richard Beckinsale…
Best wishes to you and yours.
Stay safe and well.
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