The making of the Nottingham Trail
The Nottingham Trail launched yesterday, joining the dots betweens the city’s fascinating castles and caves, historical pubs and prisons and unique mirrors and masterpieces. Local award-winning creative design agency Spinning Clock are the minds behind the new 16 point trail and are sharing how they managed to fit a whole city into your pocket.
Being set the challenge of creating Nottingham’s official walking trail would probably seem like a daunting task to some. In reality, it offered an opportunity like no other for us at Spinning Clock. That’s because our beloved city is in no way short of places to see.
Here we are with a million and one places – right on our doorstep – that are steeped in history, myth, intrigue and some of the most talked about characters in British History. Our problem wasn’t going to be finding places to include; our problem was how on earth we would show the makeup and drama of Nottingham City by taking people to just a handful of locations.
The reality was that in order to make sure we could select the best places to see, we would simply have to get out there and do some exploring. Herein lay some of the most fascinating and intriguing weeks of my working life. Nottingham has a wealth of historical attractions. Some are very old like the Old Trip to Jerusalem and some are brand new like The National Videogame Arcade in Hockley. And to actually wander around them and speak to people who are lucky enough to work there was an immense privilege. Not least because at every one of the locations on the trail you will almost certainly find someone there who has a tale to tell about its history.
A particular highlight was filming the Robin Hood Statue in the rain… or at least we tried to! Roughly every twenty seconds, different people speaking just about every language you can imagine turned up and took turns to get their massive selfie sticks out and pose with the man in bronze. Suffice to say, we decided to animate Robin rather than film him. When you go there you’ll see what I mean; just wait your turn and you’ll get your photo!
A very common problem I’ve found when I’ve invited a friend to come and visit me in Nottingham is that I normally have around 2-3 hours to give them a whistle-stop tour of the sites. The fact is, I would always end up at the same places but often wouldn’t know what to say about them. Like, “there’s the castle.. erm.. it’s old – but the house bit at the top isn’t quite as old…”. Or “look at the Nottingham Contemporary, and this pillar-type-cross thing outside it.. I’m not sure why that’s there but it seems very old…”. You get the gist.
The beauty of this trail is that it takes you on a nearly perfect circular route, right through the heart of all the major centres of attraction, with plenty of unmentioned sites on the way. Once you reach a point of interest on the trail, you can then – very conveniently – play a short video that gives you a perfect bitesize snapshot about what you are staring at. So whilst it’s still fun to stand outside a building and point at the ill-looking gargoyle sticking out of the wall, or spotting peculiar spelling mistakes made by stonemasons, this trail now brings an extra layer of fun to places that both ye olde Nottingham residents and tourists alike will find fascinating.
In fact there was so much fascinating content to begin with that it all had to be dramatically narrowed down for this trail. My suggestion is to put aside a whole weekend (or week for that matter – there is THAT much), and actually walk into each of the venues rather than stop outside them for three minutes. You’ll feel all the more enriched and charmed by the city for doing it.
I’m a brummie by birth but, having walked through this trail, my pride in being a Nottingham resident for the last 12 years has reached new heights; I am now able to marvel at the history and culture right beneath my feet. Not only that, but I now know what on earth I’m looking at… What are you waiting for?!