Infobox UK place
official_name= Bulwell
country= England
region= East Midlands
latitude= 53.000501
longitude= -1.197229
map_type = Nottinghamshire
post_town= NOTTINGHAM
postcode_area= NG
postcode_district= NG6
dial_code= 0115
constituency_westminster= Nottingham North
shire_district= City of Nottingham

Bulwell is an English market town which lies approximately 4.5 miles northwest of Nottingham city centre, on the northern edge of the city boundary. The United Kingdom Census 2001 showed there were almost 30,000 people living in the Bulwell area, accounting for over 10% of the population of the city of Nottingham.


Early Settlers

The earliest documented settlements in Bulwell appeared circa 800 A.D, and were most likely built around the same time as the first local bridge spanning across the River Leen. With the river being significantly narrower, shallower and slower-moving in Bulwell than in other potential locations along its length, and the threat of highwaymen a very real danger on existing cross-country routes, a toll-bridge was constructed in this outpost, allowing for a quicker and safer passage from north to south for travellers but an obstacle for less legitimate travellers.

The bridge created a rare direct road to Nottingham from the North West, and therefore introduced regular traffic from across the country to the area for the first time.

The tolls levied for crossing the new bridge required the building of a gatehouse for those collecting the levies and providing protection for people using the route: the creation of the tollhouse thereby inadvertently founding the new settlement. The almost captive market of the travelling parties provided endless potential for trade, and the abundance of natural resources made it easy to erect a dwelling. As the volume of traffic using the road increased, so did the size and population of Bulwell.

Over the next hundred years, Bulwell steadily gained a good reputation with people travelling across the region, being particularly renowned for its markets, beer and women.(!) The Bulwell route into Nottingham was also considered much safer than its alternatives, possibly due to the lack of dense woodland in which a criminal might hide along the route (open space being a rare thing in Nottingham at those times). Local people, particularly the poorer of the new settlers, offered space in their homes for travellers requiring overnight stops. Paying a relatively small price, travellers would share a home cooked meal with their hosts and sleep in their rooms - a much safer and infinitely more sociable arrangement than continuing onto Nottingham. The river provided local entrepreneurs with the facilities to make beer, a fact which it appears was exploited freely, and which perhaps led to more 'guests' inadvertently becoming overnighters and thus requiring accommodation. Never slow to evolve, Bulwell soon provided all the facilities to accommodate animals and their masters alike in droves, becoming something of a one-stop 'service station' on what was fast becoming a major road. Trade in this still relatively small stopping post thrived and grew, with many spotting the new opportunities Bulwell had to offer. Whilst the increase in trade was good for the local economy, the new-found abundance of salesmen and tradesmen split the town in two. The owners of the 'official', original businesses, having gone to a lot of expense to build and maintain premises, complained bitterly about an ever-growing number of roaming salesmen taking their trade. In response to these complaints, a local law was enacted (circa 920 AD) forbidding anyone without 'fixed... and at least part-covered premises' from selling goods or services close to the original businesses. (Parish records.)

However, the statute was badly worded; to circumnavigate the laws, the salesmen simply fixed posts into the ground, creating market stalls similar in design to their modern counterparts. The stalls were covered for use and left uncovered in situ when not in use, thus both abiding by the law and designating a permanent venue for their sales. The location of the Market Place remains virtually unchanged to this day and still houses a bustling market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. [http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/sitemap/bulwell_market]

The Domesday Book

Bulwell is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which was compiled in 1086. [http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/cgi-bin/res.pl?keyword=Bulwell&offset=0] Recorded in the book as "Buleuuelle" and classified as a village, Bulwell had by this time become established as an important trading post for all kinds of goods and services, serving as many locals as travellers. It had expanded to cater both for those living and working in the surrounding area and those travelling further afield, and this in itself encouraged many others to settle in the wider area.


The population grew steadily throughout this period, but the town itself did not grow much in size: opportunities for betterment and the desire of many to live further away from the 'unhealthy' town centres ensured a relatively even flow of traffic in and out of Bulwell. The church on the hill overlooking Bulwell (built 1849-1850) is on the site of the original Bulwell church, which dates back to at least the 1200s. Towering over most of North Nottingham, Bulwell Saint Mary the Virgin and All Souls (Known simply as St Mary's) can be seen from many miles away, and its bells still ring out across the area each weekend.


In 1667, George Strelley "built a school for the educating and teaching (of) young children of the Inhabitants of the said Parish", a stunning building that survives to this day, along with many of the other houses built at this time. The building is now used as a private home but retains many of the original features. [http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/articles/tts/tts1907/gill1907p2.htm] 1852 brought the act of Parliament allowing for the extension of the gas pipeline from Basford and the south. This allowed for street lighting, commercial and domestic use, and effectively revolutionised life in the village. The earliest supply of water was not to arrive until 1877, with the many local springs, wells and the river providing for the needs of both business and domestic use until this time. Before 1877, water-borne diseases were rife and the river water highly polluted by industry and sewage, leading to very high rates of infant mortality across the region. The percentage of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday decreased by over 75% in Bulwell between 1870 and 1890 - a situation that led to dreadful overcrowding and even more demand for already overstretched services like housing. Health care again suffered as a result of the insanitary living conditions, but the population continued to grow apace.

In 1885 the new church of St. John the Divine on Quarry Road was consecrated.

Bulwell Hall

Bulwell Hall (See picture here [http://www.broxtowehundred.co.uk/bulwell.htm] ) was a grand Mansion House built in 1770 by landowner John Newton. It was set in its own large grounds to the North of Bulwell town centre, and was known as Pye Wipe Hall when first built; a name which stuck with local folk until the time of its demolition. After passing through the hands of Newton's ancestors for a time, Bulwell Hall was sold at auction in 1864, along with over 1000 acres (4 km²) of land, to a man named Samuel Thomas Cooper. [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/joyce.wilkinson1/bulwell_hall.htm] Bulwell Hall was later employed variously as a sanatorium, an 'approved school for boys' and an Italian Prisoner of War camp, before its eventual demolition in 1958.

.T Cooper and The National School

As a result of the above sale of Bulwell Hall, Samuel Thomas Cooper became the "Lord of the Manor" of Bulwell and its larger areas. Cooper was a philanthropist, and in 1866 he paid £3000 for another school to be built for the local children. [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/joyce.wilkinson1/bulwell_hall.htm] Then named the National school, it provided education for up to 518 children at a time; a remarkable feat considering the size of the building. Remaining in use as the "old building" of St. Mary the Virgin and All Souls C of E primary school, it is now listed, and houses many fewer pupils than at the time of its' creation. (See picture here. [http://bulwellstmarys.co.uk/] )

After Cooper's death, his widow, Annie Cooper, donated £600 to Bulwell Saint Mary's church to provide for a better organ. Still in use (although now operating electrically powered bellows), the organ houses a plaque commemorating Mrs Coopers' donation, "in memory of (her) husband". Some sources claim that this man was the same S.T. Cooper who later went on to enclose Bulwell Bogs as his own private ground. (See below.) It is known that Cooper died in 1871, aged 39, and also that the protest over the Bogs took place in 1872, but this does not show conclusively whether the protest taking place after his death was not down to his actions whilst still alive. There is no other "S.T. Cooper" recorded as being Lord of the Manor of Bulwell, leading many to believe the man to be the same.

Boundary changes

The Deanery of Bulwell was created in 1888, four years after the creation of the Southwell diocese.Bulwell then remained a town in its own right until a boundary change in the 1890s made it a part of the City of Nottingham. The beautiful Old Town Hall, rendered useless by the change and built in the 1700s, is now a retail outlet.

1900 - Present Day

Over the past century, Bulwell has grown enormously with the creation of housing estates such as Crabtree Farm, Snape Wood, Highbury Vale and Hempshill Vale.

Snape Wood and Sellers Wood were originally part of a swaythe of woodland that bordered the landfill site to the north-west of Bulwell, stretching down to the farmland that became Hempshill Vale estate to the south-west.Both woods were protected under Royal Warrants stretching back to the 1300s, but drastic shortage of housing in Bulwell in the 1960s and 1970s, as in Nottingham as a whole, led to the protection being removed and new housing estates being built.

A token remnant of Snape Wood was left behind in the middle of the new estate, amounting to little more than a small fenced-in copse with a path leading through it. Although rubbish-strewn and neglected, this small wood supports a lot of life of all kinds, from rare wildflowers to squirrels and urban foxes.

A larger proportion of Sellers Wood remains, with the land designated as a Local Nature Reserve. Sellers Wood was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature in 1981, being cited as “a fine example of broad-leaved semi-natural woodland...of regional importance”. []


Bordering Ashfield and Broxtowe districts, 'Greater' Bulwell stretches across an area of around 3.5 square miles (though many would argue that Bulwell's 'catchment' should still include the Bestwood, Bestwood Park, Heathfield and Leen Valley estates, as it did in the past, increasing the size to around 5 square miles.)

The Greater Bulwell area, as designated by the City Council, includes Top Valley, Heron Ridge, Crabtree Farm, Bulwell Hall, Snape Wood, Sellers Wood, Highbury Vale, Hempshill Vale, Bulwell Forest, Bulwell Central, Moorbridge and the area adopting the title 'Bulwell Village', and also includes a significant amount of Rise Park. Although the addresses for the Bestwood estates were also originally suffixed 'Bulwell', ward and local area boundaries have been changed to instead link the entire 'Greater Bestwood' area with Basford and Sherwood. The old "seven fields" between Bulwell and Bestwood have now been largely developed, but the historic links between the areas remains constant. The newer estates now covering the fields have just added to the list of 'Satellites' affiliated with Bulwell.

Bulwell Bogs

The centre of Bulwell is located in a valley next to the banks of the River Leen. The Bog area beside the Leen, known for over 900 years as "Bulwell Bogs", has long been set aside as a place where children can play, paddle and fish.

After an attempt by the Lord of the Manor to enclose the land around the Bogs, in 1872, the people of Bulwell staged a peaceful protest, massing in their hundreds to protect the 'common' land. Described as "...impeccably well behaved and peaceable to a man; indeed rather joyous of spirit!" in the official records, the people of Bulwell marched a short distance before enjoying lunch by the river. After this, the crowd is said to have "...dispersed quietly and as directed with no further disturbance", later winning the fight to designate the land for the "pleasure and leisure of the people of Bulwell". [http://www.clarelittleford.net/updatemay02.htm]

The whole Bogs area was set to be demolished in 2002, to make way for a large road-bridge and a transport interchange, from where buses, trams, taxi's and trains could all be caught. Fierce public opposition from local people resulted in a campaign being launched to prevent the work; the City Council eventually scrapped the plans. [http://www.clarelittleford.net/updatemay02.htm] With help from local community groups and residents, the facilities at Bulwell Bogs were instead upgraded in 2003 to produce a bigger play-park, a safer paddling pool and a cleaner feel, and won a Green Flag award in 2004 for the work done to regenerate the area. [http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/winners/default.asp?n=&sectionID=22&parentId=25&pageID=296]

As well as the Bogs, there is an area about a mile upstream, near the present-day Moorbridge, which historically attracted children from miles around to play. This led to the nickname "Bulwell-on-Sea" being applied by other Nottingham residents. The building of the outdoor Lido pool nearby further strengthened the connection, with families historically travelling from across the city to spend a day by the water in Bulwell. Unfortunately, despite fierce opposition by local residents, the Lido was demolished in 2006, with the land being sold off to private housing developers. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/features/2004/05/swimming_pools.shtml]


Bulwell is a transportation hub for the North Nottingham area. There are three stations serving Bulwell on the Nottingham Express Transit tram system: Bulwell, Bulwell Forest and Moor Bridge. These provide access to Nottingham and Hucknall. [http://www.thetram.net/maps/bulwell.asp] Next to Bulwell tram Station is the railway station, where trains on the Robin Hood Line link Nottingham to Worksop. [http://nottingham.openguides.org/?Robin_Hood_Line] There are also a large bus station, a taxi rank, and two taxi firms based in Bulwell.

Nottingham City Transport

* 17 Bulwell - City Hospital - Hucknall Road - City Centre.
* 35 Bulwell - Broxtowe - Strelley - Bilborough - Wollaton - QMC - Canning Circus - City Centre.
* 68 69 Bulwell Estates - Bulwell - Basford Crossing - Sherwood Rise - City Centre.
* 70 71 Arnold - Rise Park - Bulwell - Basford - Sherwood Rise - City Centre.
* N77 Bulwell - Strelley - City Centre
* 79 Bulwell - Aspley - Nuthall Road - Canning Circus - City Centre.
* 80 Bulwell - Highbury Vale - Basford - Heathfield Estate - City Hospital - New Basford - Hyson Green - Canning Circus - City Centre
* 81 Bulwell - Basford Crossing - Hyson Green - Canning Circus - City Centre
* L11 Arnold - Top Valley - Bulwell - Basford - Aspley - Bilborough - Wollaton - Beeston.

Veolia (Dunn-Line)

* 170: Nottingham - Basford - Bulwell - Hucknall
* 171: Nottingham - QMC - Strelley - Bulwell - Hucknall
* 172: Boots - Beeston - QMC - Bulwell - Hucknall - Bestwood Village

Premiere Travel

* S34: Beechdale - Strelley - Broxtowe - Bulwel - Morrisons
* S41: Bulwell - Morrisons - Hempshill Vale - Snape Wood - Morrisons - Bulwell
* S42: Morrisons - Bulwell - Highbury Vale - Bulwell - Morrisons
* S43: Nuncargate - Annesley - Hucknall - Ruffs - Morrisons - Bulwell

Nottingham Express Transit

* Tram: Nottingham - Forest Fields - Hyson Green - Basford - Bulwell - Hucknall


Schools in and around Bulwell have historically been among the worst-performing in the UK. The entire Bulwell area was designated an "Education Action Zone" in 1999, as part of a high-profile scheme aimed at addressing the problems. Standards have risen slightly since then, but certain major deficiencies persist. [] The North Nottingham region has the lowest level of students progressing to higher education in the UK (Nottm Eve. Post, 8/9/2006), and the most recent league tables for secondary education show Nottingham's schools to be second-worst achieving in the country. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4489000.stm]

A notable exception is Hempshill Hall Primary School, located on Armstrong Road. In the May 2006 Ofsted inspection the school was rated "Good", point two on a four point scale, and described as "Hempshill Hall is a good school with some outstanding features.". [http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports/pdf/?inspectionNumber=281279&providerCategoryID=4096&fileName=\school\122\s5_122493_20060612.pdf "Hempshill Hall Primary School"] , Ofsted, 12 June 2006] The school was previously served by long standing headteacher Marcia Puckey, who was Britain's longest-serving school head when she retired in summer 2005, and was awarded the OBE, in recognition of her ‘services to education’ in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2006. [ [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-12205129_ITM "Seeing in new year with a gong"] , Nottingham Evening Post, 31 December 2005] [ [http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,9830,1675536,00.html "New Year honours in education"] , The Guardian, 31 December 2005]

Life in Bulwell

In Bulwell, there are no nightclubs, high class eateries or indeed any of the more metropolitan outlets or establishments, but there is a library [http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/sitemap/bulwell_library] , a swimming pool, [http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/sitemap/lclm_ken_martin_swimming_centre] many churches, and several fast food restaurants. There are also many chip shops, two golf courses, a youth club, a police station and an area built in the style of a Tudor shopping arcade hidden off the Market Place.

Bulwell has a strong sense of community. Many families are descended from generations of Bulwellians, and there is still a distinct and unique family feel to the place that belies its size and proximity to the larger Nottingham conurbation. Bulwell is a friendly place with a lot of community-based initiatives focusing on improving the area, with volunteers playing a key role in their survival. The Bulwell Credit Union, Bulwell Vision and the active Brownies, Girl Guides, Rainbows and Cubs packs and the Bulwell and Basford Rotary Club are just a few of the projects thriving thanks to the help of the local people.

There is a site for travellers of Irish heritage in Bulwell that exists as one of only a few 'permanent' sites in the country catering for both roaming and static populations. A lot of work has been done by the nearby schools to ensure the integration of traveller children, work which has won praise from Police, community leaders, and travellers' rights groups nationwide.

There are a number of pubs in Bulwell, one of which (The Scots' Grey) was featured in a television programme entitled "The Ten Hardest Pubs in Britain". Housing a successful boxing club, it has provided many champion boxers, taught many hundreds of boys and trained amateur boxers at all levels for generations. However, the pub's reputation for toughness comes as much from fights held outside the ring as in it, and stretches back many years. Fights were regularly held in the nearby Market Place after closing time on Saturday night, with scores being settled as well as money made or lost on the outcomes. Spectators formed a ring around the bareknuckle pugilists, who would fight to the knockout. Betting, challenging (i.e. money offered to any man who can knock down the "hero"), and "purses" offered by crowds were regular sidelines to the fights, which continued until as recently as the 1990s. Ironically, the pub was closed down recently because it was seen to be too "rough" to control adequately!

Despite the closure, the pub's football (soccer) team (The Scots' Grey FC) continue to play, enjoying a great deal of success in the local Sunday League. Winning all three senior trophies in Nottinghamshire for two years running, after being the first team ever to accomplish this feat, the club are hoping to make history by becoming the first team ever to do the 'treble treble': winning all three trophies for three years running.

Younger players from Bulwell have also made a huge mark on the game in the city, with the Bulwell Rangers being one of many teams run by local volunteers to excel in recent times.


Crime levels are very high in the area, compared to both the Nottingham and national averages. [http://img.findaproperty.com/crimefacts.aspx?edid=00&salerent=1&areaid=6873] In 2003 Bulwell gained the nation's attention after a Nottingham PC, Ged Walker, was killed here in the line of duty. PC Walker was dragged to his death as he attempted to arrest the driver of a stolen taxi; local resident David Parfitt was later sentenced to 13 years for his manslaughter [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/4286340.stm] .A memorial stone marking the spot where PC Walker died [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/4286340.stm] was badly vandalised in January 2006, with a hammer being used to deface and damage the engravings. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/4630532.stm] Another officer was badly injured in a remarkably similar incident on 10th October 2006. The special constable required extensive reconstructive surgery after being dragged along the road by a car when attempting to arrest a man on the Bulwell Hall estate. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/6039560.stm] Four people were arrested. The fatal shooting of local lad Marvin Bradshaw outside a Bulwell pub, in 2003, led to "gangland-style" reprisal attacks on a large scale, and attracted international interest. [http://www.wmsa.net/news/MiscNewsSources/gu041708_gang_wars_in_uk.htm] A passenger in the car Mr Bradshaw had been driving on the night of his murder, whilst unhurt in the attack, himself died within months of the event, leading friends and family members to seek revenge on his behalf. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/gun/Story/0,,1731108,00.html] The parents of Michael O'Brien, the man convicted of Mr Bradshaw's murder, were targeted, and despite moving into a "Safe House" on the Lincolnshire coast were both also murdered soon afterward.

O'Brien had already been sentenced to 24 years in prison for Mr Bradshaw's murder. Three of the eight men arrested on charges of conspiracy to murder Mr and Mrs Stirland (O'Brien's parents) were found guilty, in a case still being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission [http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/pr241204_stirland] "Extremely serious matters" are said to have been found in connection with the way the police handled the case. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/england/lincolnshire/4123945.stm]

On 1st July 2006, The day after the 3 were sentenced for the Stirland's murders, a large riot broke out on the Bestwood estate, home to one of the accused. Lasting several hours and causing an estimated £10,000 worth of damage, the riots were said to have been triggered by the outcome of the murder trial. 9 people have been convicted in connection with the disturbances. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/6048972.stm]

On 7 August 2006, a local teenager died after he was attacked outside the Moon & Stars pub. 18-year-old Aaron Smith suffered severe head injuries in the attack, which took place on 3 August. A local 24 year old man pleaded guilty to Mr Smith's manslaughter, and awaits sentencing. [http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=743&ArticleID=1897653]

Another local man was shot in the neck and back outside Bulwell's Lord Nelson pub in November 2006, before being abducted, tied up, driven to a country road and left for dead. Three people were arrested and bailed in connection with the crime, which left the 27 year old victim, from Aspley, with serious injuries. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/nottinghamshire/6135664.stm]

Pronunciation and Origin of Name

Bulwell is locally pronounced 'Bull-wool', changing the 'well' for 'wool' in the local accent. Legend has it that the town was named after a bull allegedly struck a sandstone rock causing it to seep water - a well. It is possible that this legend was created at the same time as Bulwell Saint Mary's school and the 7th Day Adventist church next door, as both buildings have illustrations of the tale relief-carved into the sandstone blocks used to make the buildings. Generations of Bulwellian children have grown up with the story planted firmly in their consciousness as "fact", and with the city council recently erecting a statue of a bull goring a well in the marketplace, it seems that the traditions surrounding the legend will continue indefinitely.

A more mundane theory is that the name is supposed to have been derived from the spring which runs out of the Bunter Sandstone over a bed of clay, near to the northern end of the forest, called "Bull Well." In "The Place Names of Notts.," it is suggested that the first part of the name may stand for a person — an Anglo Saxon named Bulla, or a bull, or it may describe the bubbling sound produced by the flowing water of the spring. [http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/articles/mellorsarticles/bulwell1.htm]

Notable Bulwellians

*Stanley Middleton, Booker prize-winning author.
*Les Leston (also know as Alfred Lazarus Fingleston), Grand Prix-winning F1 driver.
*Bertie Mee, football player and manager who led Arsenal to their first ever Double win.
*Georgie Mee, footballer, older brother of Bertie Mee.
*Wilfrid Ewart Reid, professional golfer and golf-course designer.
*Dr Sir Neil Cossons OBE FSA FMA, former Director of the National Museum of Science and Industry; current Chairman of English Heritage, educated at Henry Mellish school.
*Julie Kaufman, reporter and journalist assaulted by Björk at Bangkok airport in 1996.
*R. Sankey, founder of world's largest producer of plant pots, Sankey's. Bulwell Hall is locally still nicknamed "Chinatown" because of the Sankeys' manufacturing output: whenever local buildings were being excavated, lots of earthenware pots were discovered. The locals thought they were china clayware.
*Patrick Doyle (born 1948), songwriter who had a hit song with his group "The Diamonds" in the 1980s, wrote the well-known chart hit "Give a Little Bit", and still lives in Bulwell Hall with his wife Pamela and family.
*Brothers Jason and Nicky Booth, boxers, both of whom have held concurrent British and Commonwealth titles (at Flyweight and Bantamweight respectively), educated at Henry Mellish School.
*Albert Ball, First World War Royal Flying Corps pilot and air ace who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre before his death in battle aged just 20.


External links

* [http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/ City of Nottingham Council]
* [http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ Local Newspaper covering Bulwell and the neighbouring areas]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=2639938 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Bulwell and surrounding area]

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