Photo by Alex Sturrock
John Mullins lives in an area of Nottingham called The Meadows. It’s essentially one large estate of small houses linked by tiny alleyways and passages with a shopping precinct in the centre. That’s where they have the shrine to Nathan Williams pictured here.
’ve lived here all my life. Back when there were still jobs and factories I used to work at the Dye House and G&A Richards on Station Street as well.
Some of us worked down the pit. That’s where the money was. It was good money back then. There used to be a lot of sugar cane coming into Nottingham and there would be places to make it into sugar and when that happened you’d work all the hours God sent. Also, back then, there was good housing and good community spirit but they tore it all down. I don’t know why they got rid of them because they were better houses than these ones we have to live in now. They’re rabbit hutches these places. They were really old houses but they were worth spending money on. Instead they modernised everything and it was a big mistake. They moved the factory that I worked out in Newark. And when that happened, there wasn’t anywhere to go. There weren’t that many jobs around. What they did was bring a lot of people from outside the area to settle them in Meadows. They put them in rented houses from the council and it just changed. In the 60s and 70s they thought that if they put all the bad buggers from Nottingham in with the good ones, then the good ones would sort them all out. It’s a good concept but it didn’t work. These days, the teachers are scared of kids. When I was a kid and we used to see a copper we used to run and if coppers saw a group of you standing on the street corner they used to make you move on. These days that doesn’t happen. It’s too easy nowadays. When I walk around you get abuse from the kids. They’re always in gangs. That’s when you get abuse off them. When they’re on their own they’re all right but not when they’re in gangs. And, of course, they all carry knives around with them now. You don’t feel safe now. Well, I don’t. Another reason why it’s like that is because there are hardly any jobs around here now. With the coal people, the reason why it closed down is because there wasn’t any coal. There were dye houses, textile places and factories. The reason for this is because cheap foreign imports cost less to import than what we can make them. It’s ridiculous when you think about it. My grand-daughter is eight and I just think, “What’s the world going to be like when she grows up?” Know what I mean? I just don’t know. Technology is taking over all the jobs. We still have the Player’s cigarette factory but it used to be a lot bigger. They got rid of all the staff because the machines are taking over. There used to be a leather factory but now it’s been replaced by flats. By the canal side there used to be places to work but that’s all gone now. There’s flats and pubs for students instead. Clifton pit, sugar factory, leather factory, dye houses, collieries, there’s nothing left. What can you do? People of my age, we don’t understand computers. JOHN MULLINS