By Stephen Best

This charming view of Castle Street at about the turn of the century bears signs of careful composition. The photographer, whoever he was, seems to have aimed at an effect reminiscent of a placid Dutch painting of the 17th century. A domestic servant goes about her work in a setting totally free from hustle and bustle, the air of tranquillity heightened by the attitude of the small boy in knickerbockers. Doubtless placed there by the photographer as a foil to the servant girl, he stands in the middle of the street, confident that he will not be swept aside by passing traffic.

Contrary to appearances, Castle Street had begun to lose some of its peace and quiet since the 1860s, when it had been named The Hollows, and was a cosy retreat in a rural setting. The houses visible at the end of the street, in Sneinton Hollows, had been erected on the site of Sneinton Manor and its grounds, following demolition of the manor in 1894. The new century would bring further encroachment by new housing on all sides, with the development of Sneinton Boulevard, Pullman Road and Sneinton Dale, though the area would be largely motor-car free for almost a generation. In the 1890s, Castle Street was still the home of a number of prosperous business people of the town, and an address which bore a degree of prestige. It may be, though, that the impression of hushed respect­ability conveyed by the photograph is a false one. Just a few yards beyond the lad, at the corner of Castle Street and Sneinton Hollows, stood the Old Wrestlers public house, which at that date was open for business all day. Castle Street may have been less quiet than it looked.

PHOTOGRAPH by courtesy of Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire County Library, Local Studies Library.