While looking up information on Mapperley it struck me just how many of the areas road names have some thing to do with trees: Wood lane, Coppice Road, Corporation Oaks, Elm Avenue, Chestnut Grove, Elm Bank, Woodborough Rd, Springwood Gardens, Beech Avenue and Hazel Grove, just to name but a few. These road names are all that remain as clues to Mapperley’s ancient past.
Before the 1850s, Mapperley was a wind swept and inhospitable place in winter and there was nothing here except a few farm buildings, a couple of houses and early brick works.
Most people who worked in the area lived elsewhere and walked to work each day .
There was only one road and this was little more than a track across the hills.
The area however had trees a plenty, it was still at the time being part of Sherwood forest .
Some of these trees had grown naturally but many had been planted and maintained so they could form a timber supply for the ever increasing needs of Nottingham. Some groups of these trees also breaking up the strong winds that blow across the hill top to shelter the few houses and farms.
These Mapperley hills were, even in the Middle Ages, covered with trees.
As early as the 14th century wood was being harvested from Mapperley forests. In 1336 Robert de Crophill sold to William de Amyas “half an acre which lies in the Wodefield,””
In 1335, Red Lane was described as leading from the Forest to the Coppice, and being described as the wood of Nottingham. – as it was the one that supplied Nottingham’s timber. It was at the time providing the main source of Nottingham’s fuel. Its trees were cut down and used, lawfully and unlawfully, in the days before coal was commonly used. There was no one to see you taking the trees in this wild and uninhabited area.
The present Coppice road lead to the Coppice which was well stored with oaks. These were cut down for building and ship construction. When they were gone, the land at the top of the present Coppice road was turned in to pasture for sheep.
The Basford, and Algarthorpe woods, once continued all the way to Mapperley, covering a larger part of the north western slope of the present town.
North of this was the wood of Arnold, from which Hugh de Neville in 1221 gave two cart loads of wood each week to the Hospital House of Saint John in Nottingham..
Thorney-wood its self covered the plains from Mapperley to Woodborough.
On the southern slope was the Gedling wood, and the Marshall hills . These were where at holiday times Nottingham people went nutting and blackberrying.
Thoroton the historian wrote that “The soil is generally of the most fertile in England, except a great part of the Forest of Sherwood, which was the most pleasant, but by the abominable destruction of woods is now much otherwise.”
With the need for bricks in the industrial revolution and the result in increased building, the trees disappeared at an alarming rate. Houses were built for the great and good and the workers alike.
The cleared lands made good growing land and so sprung up the farms of the area to fuel the ever growing population with food rather than timber. Pits were dug for the clay that was needed for building even taking over this fertile growing land. Soon these pits became large scars on the landscape supplying the ever demanding industrial revolution the trees long forgotten. This changed the look of Mapperley for ever.
Mapperley’s ground still supplies Nottingham and the surrounding area with building material but it’s now bricks in place of timber.
What had for centuries had been a scene of wildness and forest was now in marked contrast: the present town.