Nottingham’s Malt Cross re-opens to give the city more than just a great drinking experience
Nottingham’s old music hall, the Malt Cross has been closed for the past few months while an exciting refurbishment of the building has taken place. A firm favourite with locals, the Malt Cross isn’t simply a place to purchase a pint, this place has culture and history in abundance. The refurbishment taps into this – and when I went to see it recently I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
My guide was Matt Buck. Matt runs the Malt Cross and has been close to the work throughout. We started at the entrance to the old music hall and the changes in here are subtle but striking. It’s been given a lick of paint to freshen up the space and historical timelines and quotes adorn the walls to add to the sense of history.
New under-floor lighting through the old glass panels gives the room a sophisticated glow, the paint work makes it feel new again and restores it to its former glory, plush sofas and armchairs upstairs make for a cosy retreat, and the entire room has a lighter, rejuvenated feel to it. It’s the perfect space for a quiet drink with friends or to enjoy live music. Nothing has been lost but plenty has been gained. You almost feel like you’re in a time capsule as if you’re stepping into another era.
The addition of a shop next to the entrance now means that visitors can purchase art and craft items here, giving independents the chance to showcase their wares.
We then ventured below the bar to the floor below. This space has been transformed into an area for schools to use for creative workshops. Complete with sinks, sockets, work spaces and everything you need to be creative, it’s a huge space and perfect for the next generation of Nottingham artists to begin honing their skills.
Another staircase, this one made of beautiful solid dark wood restored to its former glory, leads us to a floor that really excited me. To say that I was thrilled to see the toilets in the Malt Cross might sound strange, but I had good reason. The ladies’ encompasses the old Victorian brick archway that was discovered behind plasterboard during the refurbishment. The men’s, combines a cave with modern cubicles for a truly unique experience. If you’re at the Malt Cross, ask to use their toilets – trust me.
On the same floor, there is now a brand new prayer room which is completely sound proof and can double up as a recording room. We might see the next big Nottingham music artist practicing here one day! Next door there’s also a new art gallery. This whole floor is dedicated to the arts. The team at the Malt Cross are very keen to help nurture artistic talent and this is very clear in the way they’ve added the workshop, gallery and recording room.
Through another door and down some more steps, we entered the caves beneath the Malt Cross. Opened up primarily for educational groups to explore, this is where you can explore some of Nottingham’s famous caves which are now fully lit and accessible.
The old boiler has also been lovingly restored, as has the 20ft well. Yet to be explored fully is the hole that is believed to connect the Malt Cross to the Bell Inn. The plan is for this to be excavated further at a later date to reveal what lies behind. The caves have huge potential for the team at the Malt Cross, with film companies enquiring about the space.
All in all, there’s six floors to discover at the Malt Cross now. It’s almost like a tardis, seemingly small from the exterior but once you step inside, the rooms and spaces just open up and you never know what you’re going to discover next. If you haven’t already made a trip to the Malt Cross since it re-opened, then make a visit your priority. It’s a job well done by the team and it’s added another dimension to Nottingham’s rich pub scene.