Nottingham has a vibrant LGBTQ+ history, with the first officially licensed gay club, the first professor of Gay and Lesbian studies, the first trade union LGBTQ+ support group and the first permanent rainbow crossing all based in the city centre.
To mark the beginning of LGBT+ History month, a walking tour of Nottingham (from 2019) revealed some of the most important historical areas of Nottingham to the LGBTQ+ community, here are the top five spots.
1. The Black Boy Hotel – now Primark
The Black Boy Hotel stood on Long Row in the centre of Nottingham until its demolition in 1970.
The salubrious hotel had three bars in the 1960s, one bar in particular was a ‘gentlemen’s-only’ bar, but really was a gay bar.
All that remains of the hotel is a small plaque on one of the pillars on the esplanade, that was put there in 2011 by the Nottingham Civic Society, the first time it bestowed the honour on a building instead of a person.
Originally built by Littlewoods following the demolition of the Black Boy, the modernist building is now Primark.
Although we will never know exactly what happened in that bar, reports suggest this gentleman’s bar was the best place at the time in the city for gay men to socialise and be open about their sexuality.
2. George Hotel – now Mecure Nottingham City Centre
As you walk up Pelham street towards Goose Gate and Hockley, the Mecure hotel stands.
In the 1940s this hotel was known as ‘The George’.
This hotel housed another bar frequently used by Nottingham’s gay community.
In 2000, the first gay club after some time opened in the city.
This super-club boasted 2 floors, 3 bars and attracted people from the LGBTQ+ community from far and wide.
In 2015, it acknowledged it had become a straight venue, it has a late license (until 6am) and had drawn clientele from other surrounding venues that close earlier, basically attracting those that want to carry on partying through the night!
Many members of the LGBTQ+ community were disappointed by this announcement back in 2015 because they felt the number of LGBTQ+-friendly places in the city had decreased.
4. The Bell Inn
In one of Nottingham’s oldest pubs, the Bell Inn, reputedly has a gentleman-only bar.
According to reports, one night it was invaded by an abusive group of skinheads.
Apparently, the landlord disappeared upstairs to return with a large German shepherd dog that quickly dispersed the aggressive intruders.
5. The Old Dog & Partridge
A short walk along Upper Parliament Street, is the Old Dog & Partridge, one of the most popular gay bars in the 1970s.
Like many pubs at the time, the gay bar was separate, at the back of the straight pub.
Sometimes bars such as this had signs on the door saying ‘Private Party’ to attempt to ‘keep the straights out’.
This pub was one of the first to be run by the Bradley family who monopolised the Nottingham gay scene during the 1980s and 1990s.
So if you fancy a trip down LGBTQ+ memory lane, take a visit to some of these venues for a nostalgic feel.