Tuesday, September 4, 2007

George Street, Nottingham

The architectural history books are full of the names of the great architects who changed the face of England, the big names whose work took them from one end of the country to the other. But there are also distinguished local architects, people who are known mainly for their work in a specific town, city, or area – Godard of Leicester, the Jearrads of Cheltenham, and the Bastards of Blandford Forum, for example. One of the most notable of these local heroes was Watson Fothergill, the Victorian architect who left the city of Nottingham a host of lively, original buildings. Many of them are still giving pleasure today.

This is part of the façade of Watson Fothergill’s office in George Street. It’s a wonderfully Victorian mixture of advertisement and creed. ‘I can do multi-coloured brickwork, timber-framing, and intricate Gothic details,’ it says. And also: ‘I employ the best carvers and take trouble with my lettering.’ But it’s more than this. The little heads above the windows are identified as A W N Pugin and G E Street, two of the most revered Gothic architects of the Victorian period. The man who displayed mentors like these on his office façade was insisting that he could deliver the best – and that he believed in the transcendent value of Gothic architecture. Further along the front are more names – William Burges (another Goth with a flair for decoration) and Norman Shaw (pioneer of the Old English style that inspired the Arts and Crafts movement). Fothergill learned from these designers too, to Nottingham’s benefit. Shops, houses, offices, a bank, and other buildings from his office enliven the city’s streets.


Anonymous said...

There are some great architectural buildings in Nottingham, my favorite is one on Upper Parliament Street called Express Buildings from the outside this building has a great look but as with the inside has not been maintained which is a real shame.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, architect guru, that building is another of Fothergill's buildings. He was obviously proud of it as he put his name on it on the top right.