Today West Bridgford’s ‘town centre’ is Central Avenue, a busy place with limited traffic and a large selection of cafés and restaurants. But in the history of West Bridgford this is only a comparatively recent situation. Before 1900 Central Avenue did not exist!
The main road into West Bridgford from Nottingham was Bridgford Road which came south in a fairly straight line until it reached Park Lodge where it turned right and then left before meeting Rectory Road. The land between the Hall grounds and Bridgford Road had two farms and fields on it. About 1890 a post office was built on the south side of the first bend in the road and a few houses were built by the post office and a small stretch of road was made for them which became just a footpath before it reached Rectory Road.
It was not until after 1918 that the road was fully made through to Rectory Road and more houses and shops were built. Some of the houses were later changed into shops. In the 1920s a row of 12 purpose-built shops was erected on the east side of Central Avenue, beyond the area next to the Hall, known as the croquet lawn.
The shops sold a variety of goods and included food shops, hairdressers, dress and shoe shops, dry cleaners, hardware and banks. There was also a branch of Boots, probably the only business still remaining today. There were some surprising facilities too. In the middle of the west side was the Avenue Garage. There was a billiard hall and a ballroom which later became the Dancing Slipper.
Gradually traffic including buses increased. Eventually this led to a partial pedestrianisation with only the buses the main vehicles allowed. Today in addition to the many restaurants there are several charity shops. The Avenue is also the venue for a farmers’ market on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month.
Written by West Bridgford & District History Society.
The Society meets in the hall of the Musters Road Methodist Church. Our talk on Monday 4th April, at 7.30pm, is “The Clergyman, The Widow and The Milkman”, in which Mo Cooper explores Nottingham’s Edwardian Landlords. Visitors welcome.