Knob Yard and Vat Yard remind us that Narrow Marsh was at one time the tanners' quarters of Nottingham, for the "knobs" mentioned in this peculiar name are the knobs or pieces of refuse which were cut from the hides and burnt, while the vats were of course the tan-pits. The history of the tanners in Nottingham is rather complicated. They must have been early attracted to the city for the proximity of Sherwood with its many oaks would give them a plentiful supply of the oak bark so necessary for their trade. Barker Gate, which is merely another way of saying Tanners' Street, for the ancient name for a tanner was a barker, is one of the oldest streets of Nottingham and it is believed that the tanners settled there in very early times in order to be near the water of the little river Beck which has now disappeared underground. Eventually the waters of the Beck were unsufficient for their purpose, and so the centre of the trade migrated into Narrow Marsh, but it was not entirely confined to Narrow Marsh, for there were tan pits at the east end of St. Peter's Churchyard, and a great house at the corner of Pepper Street and St. Peter's Church Walk is built upon the site of one such tannery. In 1667 there were a hundred master tanners in Nottingham, but a hundred years later, in 1767, the number had sunk to only three, and eventually in 1810 the fellmongers' vats in Narrow Marsh were destroyed as a public nuisance. The Tanners Company of Nottingham appears to have been a wealthy and influential one, providing upon several occasions the chief magistrate of the town. For some extraordinary reason in 1546 the corporation commenced an annual grant of forty shillings to this Tanners Company. Blackner thinks that this grant was in order that the tanners might have an annual dinner and so be encouraged to settle in the town, but that seems rather unlikely as even allowing for the difference of value in money the amount would be too trifling to induce hard headed business men to settle in a district, but it is interesting to notice that when the number of master tanners had diminished the grant diminished with it, and eventually it was refused in 1744, but after negotiations it was once more paid but only twenty shillings per annum was forthcoming.

The advent of the Great Central Railway and the consequent alteration of the run of the railway lines through Nottingham did a great deal of good, but in their passage through the terrible area about Narrow Marsh they destroyed Tanners Hall Court. It was a courtyard leading off Maltmill Lane, and in it was situated a strange old building of unknown antiquity which was called Tanners Hall. Apparently it belonged to the tanners and they used it as their guildhall. Eventually it seems to have been taken over by the Corporation, and it may be that the grant from the corporation was made as an acknowledgment for this building, but the whole question is complicated by the fact that although the tanners were receiving the quit rent they appear to have occupied the building. During the plague which visited Nottingham about 1667 Tanners Hall was used for Assize purposes, for it was found that the stench and effluvia arising from the tanning process was an excellent disinfectant and the whole of the Marsh area seems to have been free from plague which was raging in the other parts of the town. So marked was this, that the more opulent citizens eagerly purchased or rented houses within the area in order to escape the terrible visitation which was going on elsewhere. The effect of the tanning processes upon the actual soil of the district must have been most extraordinary, for when the Great Central and Great Northern viaducts were built, and it was necessary to get out deep foundations, it was found that the whole earth in this district was impregnated with decayed animal matter which gave it a black appearance and which might have rendered it useful as manure. The Tanners Company had of course, rules and regulations and officers and their main concern seems to have been to promote intimacy and smooth working between themselves and the butchers. They had inspectors whose duty it was to see that the hides which the butchers brought to the Market Place for sale were not unduly gashed and these inspectors together with similar officers appointed by the butchers appear to have appraised the value of such hides.

Close by Tanners Hall, but now vanished, was an open space called Butlers Court, so called because a certain Mistress Butler lived there about 1769, and died at the age of ninety-two. She had spent the whole of her long life in the court which had belonged to her family for sometime previous to her arrival upon the scene.

Foundry Yard was the place where in 1610 was cast by Oldfield that magnificent bell "Great Tom of Lincoln." It was re-cast in 1828 and its size was augmented by the addition of a second ring of bells which Lincoln Cathedral then boasted. In its modern form it weighs 5 tons, 8 cwt., its height is 6ft. and 3/4in., its circumference is 21ft. 6in. at the lip and its note is A, while the hour hammer which strikes it weighs 224 lbs. It is the fourth largest bell in England, being exceeded by those at St. Paul's, London, Exeter Cathedral, and Christ church, Oxford. Bell founding was one of the great mediaeval trades of Nottingham and the names and marks of Mellors, Oldfield and Hedderley will be found upon many bells throughout England to-day.

Maltmill Lane is so called because it led down to one of the ancient mills of the town of which we shall hear more when we consider Leenside, but just opposite to it is a great brick wall which acts as a rivet to the huge precipice overhanging Narrow Marsh. Picked out in brick upon this wall, which is over a yard thick, is the date 1833, and it is the boundary wall of the ancient prisons underneath the Shire Hall. It is spoken of locally as the "Lovers Leap," but I have never been able to track the legend associated with that name so cannot say whether it was the swain or his lady-love who undertook the perilous journey down this precipice. From the prison several escapes have been made. In 1764 an unsuccessful attempt was made by a gang of prisoners condemned to death for burglary but reprieved for transportation. They were interrupted but confessed that their intention was to lower themselves down into Narrow Marsh by means of the well ropes. In 1786 five prisoners managed to escape from the prison and letting themselves down this precipice by means of a rope, they got clear away. But the most dramatic escape took place in 1831, when a young woman called Joanna Ledwich, under sentence of transportation for participating in a robbery near Newark managed to get away. She cut up the sheet belonging to her bed and tied the strips together and attached the whole to an old clothes line. She fastened the end to the stanchion of a window and proceeded to descend into Narrow Marsh, a distance of some 70ft. After sliding for some distance the whole thing broke, and she was precipitated into a yard at the foot of the cliff, She was bruised, but not seriously hurt, and it is an extraordinary thing to record that although her escape had been observed yet by the assistance of a friend she got clear away.