I live very close to Wollaton Hall and Park – one of Nottingham‘s finest Elizabethan mansion houses surrounded by 500 acres of public open space. It really should be a treasure – like Nottingham Castle. Should be but sadly is not.
I was at the Hall at the weekend. There was a motor show – I though on for the whole weekend, but actually only on for Sunday. Never mind, there’s always the coffee shop and cafe. Sadly cappuccino gets mixed up for latte (a common problem).
We ventured into the shop – although it looked closed – I presume there was a power-cut – there were no lights on! And the stock was the usual tat. A girl behind the counter looked rather bored.
The highlight of the shop was above my head – a Mk1 Raleigh Chopper bike – built in 1970 – within a few miles of The Hall. I hadn’t realised that they stopped producing this iconic bike until 1984. The ape-bars, motorbike seat and central mounted gear change were the epitome of cool back in 1970. The price was £32 – which was clearly far too much for my parents – I never had one.
But back to the shop – and the Hall generally. The cafe is better than it was a few years ago, but they need to learn how to make coffee. The shop desperately needs sorting out. As does the visitor experience generally. The place looks unkempt. The grounds are more ‘wildflower meadow’ than neatly kept. The toilets hover around average.
Wollaton Hall is a great asset for the City, but we just don’t see it as such. I don’t think it would take a lot.
One of the great examples we saw in America 18 months ago was the use of volunteers (especially at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles). It wouldn’t be difficult here to do that? In the meantime this looks like another asset that wastes away and we miss another opportunity.