50 Shakespeare Street
The former Poor Law offices, and more recently City Registry Office, is a Grade II listed building. It was designed by AH Goodall and built by Kent & Johnson for the princely sum of £16,000 in 1887. A commemorative plaque was laid at the time by ex-Mayor, Alderman John Burton J.P.
It is constructed in the Italian Gothic Revival style of red brick with ashlar dressings, pink granite columns, and a Westmorland slate roof. The ‘arcaded’ windows are plain sashes, round and segment-headed.
The building consists of 2 storeys plus basement and attics. The main and return elevations are linked by a ‘canted’ tower corner feature which has an ornamented cornice and parapet, with an octagonal spire roof.
A separate entrance bay, to the right elevation (opposite University Hall) has a stone doorcase with round-arched opening and cornice, and late C20 canopy. Reference to its life as the Poor Law Offices can be seen carved above the door. On the right return, again fronting Shakespeare Villas, is a gabled off-centre bay with a massive 4 window oriel, on the first floor, with brackets and a balcony. A second window on this elevation was converted to a door in the mid C20. At the rear is a chimney in the form of an Italianate campanile.
Outside, to the corner and right return is a coped wall (also Listed) which is topped with the original wrought-iron railing.
A German bombing raid in the Second World War seriously damaged the building and also hit the then University College building (now known as Arkwright) across the road (a wing of which was destroyed, but later rebuilt). Shrapnel marks are still visible in the stonework of the front of 50 Shakespeare street. The raid that caused the devastation took place on May 8 and 9, 1941, and is known as ‘The Nottingham Blitz’. The building had been repaired with a special dark mortar which was designed to be clearly visible and stand as a testament to the attack.
The interior has a grand entrance hall with granite pilasters, and an ‘open well’ cantilever stone stair with wrought-iron balustrade and wooden handrail. The landing has a dramatic rooflight (‘lantern’) and the main first floor rooms have cornices and pedimented doorcases. Many rooms also contain ornate fireplaces. The interior has recently (2014) benefited from extensive, painstaking (and award winning) renovation work by NTU. Similarly, there has been extensive repointing and exterior stonework repairs as part of the renovation project.
During the renovation works a time capsule was discovered under the commemorative plaque next to the main front doors. The contents of this are now on display within the building - and it was replaced with a new time capsule in the same location to be discovered by future generations.
The property, NTU’s official HQ, is where the University Executive team have their offices.