Top Tips from a Nottingham Native with Hello Notts Tours
When visiting a new city it can be easy to feel like you’re barely touching the ground. The history, the quirks, and the best hidden gems can all lurk just out of sight, unless you know the right people that is.
If you’re spending more than a day in Nottingham, we recommend starting off your stay with a guided tour, and who better than a native who knows the city like the back of his hand.
For Bryn Tomlin of Hello Notts, what began as a simple passion for Nottingham’s culture and history has now become a vocation. We spoke to him about how his interest developed and to pick up a few little known facts about our great city.
VN: Hi Bryn! Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a tour guide?
I first came to Nottingham as a “fresh faced” student in 1979, passed my degree and have enjoyed a successful professional career in industry. However, ever since I was a lad I’ve been fascinated with history, art, architecture and culture generally, and have been fortunate to experience and see many fascinating places around the world. I started years ago by giving friends, family and work colleagues, impromptu tours and then this year, I decided to launch “Hello Notts Tours”. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made, its great taking people on guided walking tours and talking about the City which has been my home for over 38 years.
VN: What is your favourite piece of Nottingham trivia?
Bridlesmith Gate is today a well known and some say a “posh” shopping street. It has been a hive of activity for many years and was the home for armourers, makers of candle sticks and horseshoes, knives and bell founders, in fact the artisans who traded there were so enamoured with the street and their importance to the City of Nottingham that in the 18th Century they wanted it to be renamed “Bond Street” as per London, but this was rejected by the City Authorities at the time. Every time I walk down Bridlesmith Gate this piece of trivia puts a wry smile on my face! It’s still a great place to shop though.
VN: Robin Hood or Ned Ludd – Who do you prefer?
Ned Ludd is very much seen in hindsight as being a criminal because he smashed up some stocking frames in a fit of rage and the “Luddites” were seen as being against modernisation, hence the term “Luddite”, namely a person who objects to modern technology. In fact weaving machines were rented to weavers who paid the owners a rent for the machine and were paid for the stockings or lace they wove by the same machine owners. However, in times of recession (for example following the end of the Napoleonic Wars), weavers were charged the same rent for their weaving machines and the price they were paid for their goods was reduced, causing real economic hardship for them and their families and their reaction was to destroy the machines which were a symbol of this hardship. So I sympathise with Nedd Ludd and the Luddite Movement.
Robin Hood to me is a universal hero. It’s the “little guy” or the “underdog” against the “big guys”. So Robin and Nedd would have had quite a lot in common. I can imagine both of these rebel heroes having a good natter and a drink at Nedd’s namesake pub on Friar Lane – they would have so much to talk about!
It’s a pinch but Robin wins in my book for the overall legendary personality and universal cause.
VN: Where is your favourite place in Nottingham for a spot of dinner or a nice drink?
What a question! Over the years, Nottingham has developed into a fine city of cuisine and it has some great drinking spots. For afternoon tea I go to Thea Caffea in Enfield Chambers just off Middle Pavement. It’s a lovely place to meet family and friends whilst in town, and it’s a place that I recommend to anyone on my tours who ask me for a place to eat lunch in convivial surroundings.
VN: Do you have any Nottingham dialect/lingo to share with us?
I could say “ay up miduk” but this is everyone’s favourite, I still ask overseas visitors to say it and they look at me in astonishment but they always have a go – hearing it in Russian is very strange!
“Ah’ve podged m’sen” is an old one – it means “I have eaten too much!”
VN: Who are your tours aimed at & what can people expect to learn?
Anyone who lives in or is visiting Nottingham, from aged 5 to 95 years of age and want to spend a pleasant time learning more about this great city. The tours cover a good mix of Nottingham’s rich and varied history, architecture, literature, industrial heritage and sporting achievements and are full of anecdotes and funny stories. There’s something for everyone no matter how old they are.
VN: What is your top tip for anyone visiting Nottinghamshire?
Most people want to know about Robin Hood, Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest; this is fuelled by Hollywood and is of course integral to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire but it’s only part of the story….
My top tip is to look at Nottinghamshire as a whole and enjoy some great places to visit and also the journey getting there. I have never got tired of driving to and visiting Southwell, and the Minster for example – it’s a great place to visit and a very pleasant day out for the visitor.
Thank you to Bryn for sharing his favourite Nottingham stories and places. To find out more about Hello Notts tours, see information below!
Take a Tour with Hello Notts!
Nottingham Highlights Tour
Blending the modern and historical, discover iconic sights such as Nottingham Castle and hear the stories on which Nottingham is built.
Nottingham Heroes Tour
Revealing stories of the city’s most notable inhabitants, from the legendary Robin Hood to literary legends and all those in between.
Both tours start at the Left Lion in the Market Square.