Nottingham is famed for its links with the legend of Robin Hood and, during the Industrial Revolution, obtained worldwide recognition for its lace-making, bicycle and tobacco industries. With origins traceable back to 600 AD, Nottingham was granted its city charter as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897 and has since been officially titled the City of Nottingham. Nottingham is home to the BBC East Midlands offices and formerly the Government Office for the East Midlands. It is one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group.
Whilst Nottingham City has always had a traditionally tightly-drawn city boundary, accounting for its relatively small population of 305,700 (making it the second largest city in the East Midlands behind its local neighbour Leicester with a population of 330,000); the Nottingham Urban Area in fact has a population of approximately 640,900; in the 2011 census, it was the eighth largest urban area in the United Kingdom. Eurostat's concept of the Larger Urban Zone listed the area's population at 825,600 as of 2004.
Today, Nottingham is known for its strong economy, nightlife, shopping, tourism (travel publisher Dorling Kindersley named it as one of its top 10 city destinations in the world in 2010), and as a sporting centre - the city boasts the National Ice Centre, the National Water Sports Centre, a world-famous Test cricket ground, two professional English Football League teams, and top-flight cricket and ice hockey sides. In addition, around 60,000 students attend the city's two universities, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, giving the city a large student population.
Culturally, there are two large-capacity theatres (plus a number of smaller ones), numerous museums and art galleries including the Nottingham Contemporary, an independent cinema (The Broadway, rated one of the 'best in the world' by Total Film magazine in 2009) and several live music venues, including the Capital FM Arena and Rock City, both of which regularly host major UK and international artists.
Being located at the heart of the UK, Nottingham also has excellent transport links to the rest of the UK and abroad, and the city itself benefits from a state-of-the-art tram system and the largest public bus network in the UK. In October 2012, it was named Transport City of the Year. The city is connected internationally by East Midlands Airport, located to the south-west of the city.
In Anglo-Saxon times, around 600 AD the site formed part of the Kingdom of Mercia and was known in the Brythonic language as Tigguo Cobauc, meaning Place of Caves. In Welsh it is known poetically as Y Ty Ogofog, "The Cavey Dwelling". When it fell under the rule of a Saxon chieftain named Snot it became known as "Snotingaham"; the homestead of Snot's people (Inga = the people of; Ham = homestead). Snot brought together his people in an area now known as the Lace Market. Some authors derive "Nottingham" from Snottenga, caves, and ham, but "this has nothing to do with the English form".
In the 11th century Nottingham Castle was constructed on a sandstone outcrop by the River Leen. The Anglo-Saxon settlement developed into the English Borough of Nottingham and housed a Town Hall and Law Courts. A settlement also developed around the castle on the hill opposite and was the French borough supporting the Normans in the castle. Eventually, the space between was built on as the town grew and the Old Market Square became the focus of Nottingham several centuries later. On the return of Richard Coeur de Lion from the Crusades, the castle stood out in Prince John's favour. So, it was besieged by Richard, and after a sharp conflict, captured.
By the 15th century, Nottingham had established itself as the centre of a thriving export trade in religious sculpture made from alabaster. The town became a county corporate in 1449 giving it effective self-government, in the words of the charter, "for eternity". The Castle and Shire Hall were expressly excluded and technically remained as detached Parishes of Nottinghamshire.
In common with the UK textile industry as a whole, Nottingham's textile sector fell into decline in the decades following World War II, as British manufacturers proved unable to compete on price or volume with the output of factories in the Far East and South Asia. Very little textile manufacture now takes place in Nottingham, but the city's heyday in this sector endowed it with some fine industrial buildings in the Lace Market district. Many of these have been restored and put to new uses.
Nottingham was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and at that time consisted of the parishes of Nottingham St Mary, Nottingham St Nicholas and Nottingham St Peter. It was expanded in 1877 by adding the parishes of Basford, Brewhouse Yard, Bulwell, Radford, Sneinton, Standard Hill and parts of the parishes of West Bridgford, Carlton, Wilford (North Wilford). In 1889 Nottingham became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. City status was awarded as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria, being signified in a letter from the Prime Minister the Marquess of Salisbury to the Mayor, dated 18 June 1897. Nottingham was extended in 1933 by adding Bilborough and Wollaton, parts of the parishes of Bestwood Park and Colwick, and a recently developed part of the Beeston Urban District. A further boundary extension was granted in 1951 when Clifton and Wilford (south of the River Trent) were incorporated into the city.
Demographic evolution of Nottingham
Electric trams revolutionised public transport in Nottingham on their inception in 1901; they served the city for 35 years until the trolleybus network was expanded in 1936. The city's road network was improved between 1922 and 1932 when a new dual carriageway was built. Housing conditions also began to improve the city's poorer residents at this time, when the first council houses were built on new suburban estates to rehouse families from slum clearances. Mass private house building also took place, with the process continuing to boom until some 30 years after World War II ended in 1945. Trams made their comeback after 68 years when a new network opened in 2004.
In the sporting world, one of Nottingham's biggest claims to fame is being home to the world's oldest professional football club, Notts County, which was formed in 1862, although the team's subsequent history has been relatively low profile. However Nottingham Forest, under manager Brian Clough, had a period of success between 1977 and 1993, winning the First Division, four League Cups, a UEFA Super Cup and two European Cups. During this time Forest signed Trevor Francis, Britain's first £1million footballer, who joined the club in February 1979 from Birmingham City.
Four years after Nottingham Forest's second European Cup success in 1980, ice dancers Torvill and Dean won a Gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. The performance was the only since to obtain a perfect 6.0 score from all the judging panel.
During the second half of the 20th century Nottingham saw urban growth with the development of new public and private housing estates and new urban centres, which have engulfed former rural villages such as Bilborough, Wollaton, Gedling and Bramcote. South of the river there has also been expansion with new areas such as Edwalton and West Bridgford, adding to Nottingham's urban sprawl. Although this growth slowed towards the end of the century, the modern pressures for more affordable and council housing is back on the political agenda and there is now pressure on the Green Belt which surrounds the city.
Recent years have seen Nottingham rise into the national spotlight for both positive and negative news, however strong growth in high-tech, educational and medical industries, as well as high profile innovative transport development such as the Nottingham Express Transit and the Workplace Parking Levy, have raised the national profile.