Enclosure: Preserving Open Space in Nottingham 

Forest Recreation Ground, The Arboretum, Robin Hood’s Chase, Queens Walk, Victoria Park 

These popular recreational sites of Nottingham may likely be our first thoughts when wanting to venture from the city streets to local greener sites. It can be argued that without a highly influential act in the 1800s these green spaces of which we are so familiar with today, may not have continued to exist.  

This was called The Enclosure Act. This legal process turned common land and open fields into plots with legal property rights.  

On 30th June 1845 the Nottingham Enclosure Act was given royal assent, meaning that after nearly 60 years since the idea was first suggested it was finally approved.  

The Enclosure Act was controversial and had many pro and opposing opinions. Town officials held the rights over common land. Before the act, this denied any additional building to house the dense population of Nottingham, from spilling out of its restrained borders. At this time, sanitation and health would have been an increasing concern. The need to expand and improve housing for Nottingham’s inhabitants was growing but there were concerns that with increased urbanisation, the surrounding green spaces were in danger of disappearing.  

Play Space for Future Generations - 

A vital part of the act was the agreement that 130 acres of the freed land was promised to the purpose of public recreation. It seemed a good compromise to allow living conditions to improve with the development of new housing but also to allocate specific areas of green space for Nottingham’s inhabitants. This has preserved open space to be available for future generations of children to play and is a key part of Nottingham’s history, impacting on how the City has developed. 

The map below shows some of the 130 acres that were set aside by the act. Can you spot any spaces or walks that you still enjoy today?   

Sites preserved by the Enclosure Act:  

  • Nottingham Arboretum 
  • The Forest (where Goose Fair is held) 
  • Meadows Cricket Ground  
  • Bath Street Cricket Ground  
  • The General Cemetery received an additional 4 acres of land 
  • Rock Cemetery 
  • Queens Walk Recreation Ground 
  • Victoria Park 
  • St. Ann’s Hill 

Three miles of 90-foot wide walks including: 

  • Corporation Oaks 
  • Elm Avenue 
  • Queens Walk