The History of Nottingham Industrial Museum

In 1964, a group of local engineers, in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, established its own industrial heritage collection in the old 17th-century stable block at Wollaton Hall and Deer Park. This group of engineers became known as the Nottingham Arkwright Society. This new collection concentrated on local textiles, coal mining and light metal trades, such as bicycle and motorcycle manufacturing.

In 1971 the collection was formally opened to the public and by 1975 many of the restored engines were working and running in full steam, with the Basford Beam Engine receiving its first public steaming on Easter Monday 1977.

Sadly, Nottingham City Council had to close the museum in 2009 as a result of funding cutbacks, but the Nottingham Arkwright Society continued to welcome visitors into the Steam Hall on the last Sunday of each month.

A group of volunteers gave the museum a major face-lift during the winter of 2011 and re-opened the museum to the public in March 2012. Their hard work was recognised when Nottingham Industrial Museum was award Heritage Site of the Year by the Nottinghamshire Heritage Forum in the same year. The Nottinghamshire Heritage Awards showcase and celebrate the work of heritage organisations of all types and sizes in Nottinghamshire and the staff and volunteers that run them.

Nottingham City Museums & Galleries continues to own and care for the collection, however, Nottingham Industrial Museum manages the day-to-day operations and its development. The Industrial Museum became a charity in 2016 (registered charity number: 1167388) and is entirely volunteer-run by a number of the original members of the Nottingham Arkwright Society and enthusiastic new volunteers; all of whom give their time to preserving Nottingham’s incredible industrial heritage.

A small selection of our volunteers
A small selection of our volunteers

Ever since Nottingham Castle opened in 1878, the Nottingham Museums Collection has included items reflecting the importance of lace and bicycle manufacturing to the city.

Today, the museum has expanded to include a unique collection of working steam and diesel engines as well as examples of textile and transport technologies. Our five galleries also remember local industries such as mining, railways, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and printing.