September 30, 2015, by Kathryn Steenson

Keeping Pace with Sporting Developments

To mark National Sporting Heritage Day, we’re looking back at some very local sports history in the archive. Whether an avid athlete or committed couch potato, the Sports Centre on University Park campus has played a key part in the University life of many students over the decades. As well as sport, it was also a venue for exams and graduation ceremonies, so it was the end of an era in March this year when construction crews began demolishing it to make way for the David Ross Sports Village.


Demolition in progress. Photo copyright R Pearce.


Photo copyright R Pearce.








The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the British Universities and Colleges Sport league (BUCS), and, as Director of Sports Dan Tilley pointed out, UoN students and alumni won more medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games than Canada and India. Despite these achievements, the old Sports Centre was beginning to show its age and the space wasn’t large enough to cope with the growing numbers of students. The Nottingham Law alumnus and Carphone Warehouse co-founder and Nottingham graduate David Ross have made generous contributions towards the new £40 million facility, which is due to be completed by late 2016.

Extract from Sports Centre Plan

Extract from an architectural drawing, 1968 (Acc 2571)

Sports Centre Site Plan

Proposed Sports Centre shown in yellow on this site map (Acc 2571)










Elevation of the Sports Centre, 1968 (Acc 2571)

Fifty years ago there were limited facilities for indoor sports at the University. The extracts from the elevation and plan and the site plan pictured above are all original 1968 architectural drawings, and prove that sepia is not the only colour of archives! As well as being a visual representation of the actual landscape, architects F S Eales included trees and people to help convey the scale and appearance of the buildings to clients (it’s not known if the trees pictured were those at the centre of the initial planning application rejection). What’s interesting about the site map isn’t so much the location of the Sports Centre, but how much the rest of University Park has changed over the last few decades. Many buildings have been extended and there are some glaring omissions compared to modern campus maps – no Hallward Library, and no Medical School or QMC.

This material is part of about 100 plans and other engineering drawings of the old Sports Centre that came to us courtesy of Dan Tilley. At the same time we also took in photographs of the student sports teams from 2013-2014 and the Athletic Union minutes from 1954-1970.

Just a few of the 96 sports teams photos from 2013-14 in Acc 2571

Just a few of the 96 sports teams photos from 2013-14 in Acc 2571

We’ve posted historic photos of the University of Nottingham and University College Nottingham sports teams online before, but it might come as a surprise to find that photos as recent as 2014 are already in Manuscripts & Special Collections and treated the same as the rest of our holdings. People often think archives only have ‘old stuff’ (which is true, we have a lot of very old stuff!) but once these were ordinary modern documents. Part of our job is to make sure today’s paperwork survives to become tomorrow’s ‘old stuff’. Our University Archives are fantastic, and a large part of this is due to the  generosity and support of the various departments, staff and alumni who have contributed to the collections.

If you would like to view the archives and rare books, or are interested in depositing material here, please contact us. The sports records only recently arrived and haven’t yet been added to the online catalogue, but our website has more information about the University Archives and an online exhibition about Sport: Exercise through the Ages. You can also follow us on Twitter @mssUniNott.

Posted in AcquisitionsUniversity archives