Wollaton Park – another missed opportunity

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.

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4 comments on “Wollaton Park – another missed opportunity

  1. Sadly it isn’t just Wollaton Hall which serves up a poor visitor experience. The Castle (as you know, Tim) is a gigantic missed opportunity and we all know about the trials and tribulations of Newstead Abbey, which is now verging on a tragedy. City simply can’t afford to run facilities like this and it strikes me that the only long-term hope they have lies in surrendering part or all of the ownership. These cultural icons haven’t been imaginatively run at the best of times, and their only hope surely lies in some kind of innovative ownership/management solution. Moving the furniture around won’t save them.

    • Richard – my great fear is that the Castle is being given a lick of paint and a move around -as you say. To my mind this lacks any ambition (for which Nottingham is supposed to have). You are also right that the Council cannot run (as anything above a very basic level) a quality entertainment complex. It is so frustrating to watch… And believe me I have tried to do something, but pushing water up a hill is not my kind of game!

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