u3a logo Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

The Industrial Heritage Group

Leader:  Mike Stow - indhist@ashbyu3a.co.uk - phone 01530 469152

The Industrial Heritage Group is for members who have an interest in our industrial heritage of trains, cars, planes, bikes, early manufacturing etc. to visit museums, railways, factories and other places related to our industrial past. We occasionally take a quite broad view of what constitutes "Industrial Heritage" if it is of interest to us!

Travel arrangements vary depending on how far we have to travel, but generally we meet in Ashby to car-share.

Our trips are normally on Wednesdays unless otherwise stated.

Future programme

Wed 27th MarTBATBAPaul McKayTBA
Wed 24th AprTBAMorgan Cars factory tour.Estelle SandlesMaximum of 18 people on the 2 hour guided tour. Non-refundable deposit £6.50, full cost £32.50. Tours get sold out quickly, so if you want to come along let me know asap.

Wednesday 24th January. City of Caves, Nottingham

For our first outing of the year, we returned to the caves under Nottingham which used to be accessed from the Broadmarsh shopping centre. As that no longer exists, the entrance is under the tram flyover coming up to the Lace Market. Despite the fact that we had visited before some 7 years previously, this proved popular with members and sold out quickly with 20 of us heading to Clifton South in the morning to catch the tram into the city.

We were welcomed by our guide who was to show as around the caves and tell us all about them. There are apparently over 800 caves under Nottingham, all man-made, carved into the soft sandstone. We were only to see six of them, but they were all fascinating with a rich history.

Some of the caves date back to at least the 9thC and were mentioned by the Bishop of Sherborne in his ‘The Life of King Alfred’ of 893.

It isn’t so noticeable now but the city, like the castle, stands or stood on a cliff overlooking the Trent marshes. This made it easy to tunnel into the cliff face to create some of the caves. Others were dug down from the houses above to create water wells and cess pits. These later expanded into storage areas and later still into cheap dwellings. Two caves dug in from the side in 1250were originally a home but after a rockfall in 1400 were abandoned. By 1500 they had been cleared and turned into the only known underground tannery in Britain. The front opening allowed them access to the river were they would wash the skins in the town’s drinking water! This was banned, so they snuck out at night to do it anyway.

Many of the caves were interlinked particularly the pub cellars, which allowed much illegal activity such as cock-fighting and gambling to go on unnoticed and with many exits should the authorities come looking. The Chartists used to meet in one of the caves.

Also many of the caves were inhabited from at least the 17th century until 1845 when the law was changed banning the renting of cellars and caves as homes for the poor. By this time they had degenerated into one of the worst slums in Britain, rife with disease.

Some good came of the caves during WWII when some of the caves were joined and turned into as many as 86 public air-raid shelters, and one of them is set out as it might have been then. A severe bombing raid on 8th May 1941 created much damage above but all those below were unharmed. The sand that was dug out for the shelters was used to fill sandbags.

This was a most interesting tour and our guide talked us though the various phases of the caves uses explaining it all very clearly and informatively.

Afterwards we retired to the Canalhouse pub which, in keeping with our Industrial Heritage theme, was once a canal warehouse and actually has a wharf inside the pub complete with floating barge. The food and drink were pretty good too!

We returned by tram to Clifton South to pick up the cars and hence home.

Previous trips