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14 December 2017

Uncovering the past

Local businesswoman Rebecca Puri has uncovered a piece of Nottingham's history in the basement of a Sherwood shop.

Rebecca ran the Attic, a vintage and antique store on Mansfield Road in Sherwood, Nottingham. Recently she found an old framed picture in the basement of the shop. She cleaned it up and was able to see that it depicted plans for some houses that had been designed in 1896. A little detective work helped Rebecca to identify the building as the Lambley Almshouses on nearby Woodborough Road.

Rebecca's research also helped her to discover that the buildings, which were renovated in 2016, were now owned and managed by Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA). Staff at NCHA were delighted when Rebecca got in touch to say that she wanted to donate the plans to NCHA.

The plans were drawn up in April 1896 by City Engineer Arthur Brown, lending support to those who think that he was the architect for the development. Some historical accounts have suggested that the building might have been designed by Victorian architect Watson Fothergill, but the fact that Arthur Brown's name is on the plans is an interesting development. Arthur Brown also designed the Victoria Embankment and Nottingham's boulevards (Gregory, Lenton and Radford).

In recent years, Lambley Almshouses had fallen into disrepair. The building became uninhabitable, and had been damaged by vandals and squatters. The almshouses required substantial refurbishment, and the former trustees of the property wanted to transfer their responsibility to a professional landlord so that the future of the property could be secured.

The trusteeship of the Lambley Almshouses was transferred to Nottingham Community Almshouse Charity (NCAC) in May 2015, and restoration work began later that year.

NCHA’s own staff worked to restore the exterior of the building, refurbish the interior of the 12 flats and associated communal areas, and carry out landscaping work to improve access to the site. Great care was taken to protect the character of the building, which sits on a busy route into the city and so is seen by many local people every day.

NCHA’s Pelham Architects led the £775,000 programme of redevelopment, preserving both the building and its legacy. The refurbished homes retain their original character, while offering the new residents a living space that exceeds our modern expectations for comfort and safety. Contemporary kitchens and bathrooms have been installed, and landscaping around the site improves its curb appeal.

Paul Moat, Director of Assets and Compliance at NCHA, said: “The Lambley Almshouses are part of Nottingham’s history, and we’re very grateful to Rebecca Puri for the important historical document she has kindly donated to us."