Nottingham Pubs and Nightclubs of the 90s

Words: Christine Chapel
Tuesday 28 January 2020
reading time: min, words

Feeling Nottstalgic? As part of LeftLion's work digitally archiving our predecessor Overall magazine we rediscovered some favourite Nottingham haunts of the nineties...


Alley Cafe
Veggie-friendly cafe, opposite the old Odeon cinema, which first opened under the stewardship of DiY members. Eventually it was taken over by Ben Rose (current owner of The Angel) and ran until 2018. Now a sushi bar.
Cannon Court, NG1 6JE

Arboretum Pub
Once a well kept secret where we could turn up on a sunny summer lunchtime and enjoy the best beer garden in the city. Then along came Rob Howie-Smith, who told all the Trent students about it and spoiled it for the locals. Later it became available as a music venue and Overall put on Bushfire here.
Waverley Street, NG7 4HF

Arcade Records
Located roughly where Fat Cats is now, this legendary record shop ran from 1974-2000 and was co-owned by brothers Kevin and Paul Thomas. Stars such as Donny Osmond, Chris Rea and Take That’s Gary Barlow made appearances there.
Chapel Bar, NG1 6JQ

A late nineties nightclub that put on some great events, including DiY’s Bounce night. However, it made national news for the wrong reasons in 1999, when 350 people fled the place after gunshots during a fight. It later became Evasion and is now Propaganda.
Broadway, NG1 1PS

The Bell Inn
Historians think they’ve been serving beer in here for nearly 500 years, so we’re glad to say it’s survived the last twenty-odd too. A regular Sunday jazz haunt to this day.
Angel Row, NG1 6HL

Black Orchid
A 2500-capacity club opposite Showcase Cinema. In 1992, a young Take That played there and in 1999, Top of The Pops was filmed here featuring Tom Jones and Martine McCutcheon. Later rebranded as Isis and bombed.
Redfield Way, NG7 2UW

Bobby Browns
Run for a while by Nick Turner (later of The Chameleon) and featured performances from the likes of Vivian Stanshall and Moonflowers. Back in the days when Trent Poly had it’s York House base on Mansfield Road, this place had DJs and live entertainment every night of the week. Previously known as the Empire, it was later demolished.
Mansfield Road, NG1 3GY


The Britannia Inn
Cheap beer and bands venue located near where Confetti and Antenna stand now. Not to be confused with the similarly-named boat club.
Beck Street, NG1 3NB

The Britannia Boat Club
Way back in the day this place hosted Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart and The Sex Pistols. During the nineties it held strong and put on fortnightly events with the likes of Wholesome Fish, Dum Dums, and TARDIS nights. Finally closing soon as part of the football stadium rebuild.
Trentside, West Bridgford, NG2 5FA

Broadway Cinema
The city's long-standing home for film was visited twice during the nineties by Quentin Tarantino. Later in the decade Shane Meadows used it as a base to create TwentyFourSeven (1997) and A Room For Romeo Brass (1999).
Broad Street, NG1 3AL

The Cookie Club
A nightclub that first opened in what is now the cocktail and blues haunt Tilt. After ten years they moved to a bigger capacity venue on St James’s Street and kept the nineties indie vibe alive. It rebranded as the Retro Rooms in 2016, but finally closed its doors in 2018.
Pelham Street, NG1 2EH

Still very much alive and open, happily selling brightly coloured and heavily discounted cocktails and tequila shots for the last three decades.
Hurts Yard, NG1 6JD

Double Bubble
Nightclub located just off the Market Square and previously known as Eden and Colour Wheel, which is where Nirvana and Foo Fighters agent Russ Warby promoted gigs. It had two big rooms and was host to various nights including very early Detonate. Now an award-winning public toilet.
Greyhound Street, NG1 2DP


One of the many second hand record shops around in those years before Spotify. Situated on Mansfield Road and run by a bloke called Julian.
Mansfield Road, NG1 3HW

Home to ‘In Your Face’ Fridays, which ran with the excellent tagline; ‘For the informed clubber who lives for House and Garage, not in a house with a garage.’ Now The Lacehouse.
Broadway, NG1 1PS

Firkin Pubs
There were three Firkin pubs in the town centre: The Filly and Firkin on Mansfield Road, the Fletcher and Firkin opposite the castle and another one on the corner of Goldsmith Street where Albert's is now.
Various locations

Funky Monkey
DJ-focused record shop, which first opened in the West End Arcade in 1993. It then moved to Market Street and St James’s Street before finally settling in Goose Gate in 1996. Sadly closed in October 2009 and is now a hair removal shop.
Goose Gate, NG1 1FF

The Golden Fleece
Some things never change and, despite having about a dozen owners since the 90s, this place is still going strong. In 1997-98 Shod Collective played here every Saturday at 3pm in what was billed as ‘the only afternoon nightclub in town.’
Mansfield Road, NG1 3FN

The Gregory
Ropey pub in Radford which catered for the after party and all-night crowds from The Marcus Garvey. Now student flats called ‘The Gregory.’ 
Ilkeston Road, NG7 3HG

The Hand and Heart
Still in the same spot in the caves up towards Canning Circus, still serving great beer and putting on regular jazz gigs. Although, sadly, regular piano player Pete 'The Feet' Baylis
passed away in 2018.
Derby Road, NG1 5BA

Hearty Goodfellow
A live music pub over three floors that was once twinned with The Old Angel. The middle floor was a regular drinking space while the basement ‘Dive’ bar featured purple glitter walls and hosted regular specialist music nights. The top bar was where the Hearty really came to life though and was also briefly named as ‘Rock Stop.’ Overall once put on a special touring night here with Gallon Drunk, Therapy? and Sun Carriage. However, their best night was the Friday Fish Fry club night featuring the late, great DJ Pablo. Now the curry house 4500 Miles from Deli.
Mount Street, NG1 6HE


The Hippo
Post-Venus nightclub follow-up by James Bailie. It then went on to become known as The Bomb, which was legendary from the late 90s onwards for drum and bass nights. Now cocktail venue Coco Tang.
Bridlesmith Gate, NG1 2GN

Ice Nine
Yes, we know it’s a shop that sells jewellery and jossticks. But they were regular advertisers in Overall and therefore a big part of the scene. Still going strong, forty years on. Unfortunately you can’t buy magic mushrooms over the counter from them now though.
Goose Gate, NG1 1FE

The Imperial
Last known as Bla Bla bar after various other incarnations, including Westside Bar. Believe it or not, Radiohead played this tiny venue in 1992.
St James’s Street, NG1 6FH

Last known as Queen of Clubs, this place has now been vacant for a while. At one point it was populated by the uber trendy art, film, fashion and set design crowd. G-Force clothing was essential - basically because everyone from the Hockley store were regulars or worked there. These Vagabond Shoes used to play here and one or two of them became Tindersticks.
Heathcoat Street, NG1 3AA

The Kool Kat
Known as The Garage for much of the eighties, with indie downstairs and dance upstairs – including a residency from Graeme Park. It became the Kool Kat in the early nineties and then reverted back to The Garage again, before becoming the Lizard Lounge. 
St Mary's Gate, NG1 1PU

Located over the road from the Theatre Royal, downstairs was The Box – a dance venue which became well-loved for its Jazz In The Box nights, featuring DJ Pablo and Tim ‘Love’ Lee. The venue later became McClusky's, then in 2003 it opened as Mode after a £1 million refit, but soon became synonymous with police bother. Now an oriental supermarket.
Goldsmith Street, NG1 5LT

Marcus Garvey Ballroom
Originally built in the 1930s as Raleigh’s Headquarters, this legendary venue has been home to some serious raves over the decades. It was the location for Primal Scream’s seriously oversold 1991 Screamadelica show where the promoters discovered you couldn’t get 1500 people into a 700-capacity venue. The venue also had bullet holes in the ceiling after one punter got a bit too excited at one of the regular dancehall events. Now it’s mainly used as a community centre for Nottingham’s elderly African and Caribbean citizens.
Lenton Boulevard, NG7 2BY


The Market Bar
Hockley venue, always popular with students. Finally closed its doors in 2018 after three decades. Now a charity shop.
Goose Gate, NG1 1FF

The Maze
The big room at the back of the Forest Tavern pub, first opened its doors under this brand in early 1997. It became something of an institution for the next two decades, although sadly finally closed up in 2019. Expected to become student flats.
Mansfield Road, NG1 3FT

Previously Barry Noble's Astoria (named after the live-fast-die-young millionaire playboy who owned it). In the early 1990s it was rebranded to MGM and then, towards the end of the decade as Ocean, which is still is to this day. They haven’t changed the carpets since.
Greyfriar Gate, NG1 7EF

Mushroom Bookshop
Okay, so it was a bookshop rather than a record shop. But, this place was radical enough to get attacked by fascists in the 90s. Jamcafe now stands in its place and former staff member Ross Bradshaw went on to set up Five Leaves.
Heathcoat Street, NG1 3AA

The Music Inn
Instrument shop, which has been holding it down on Alfreton Road since the early nineties selling instruments, sheet music and various accessories.
Alfreton Road, NG7 3NG

Narrow Boat
Back in the nineties this place was twinned with The Old Angel and hosted hundreds of gigs from Overall, The Night With No Name and many more. Demolished in 1996 as part of the Canal Street regeneration.
Canal Street, NG1 7EH

The Old Angel
The name might have been altered slightly and there are big mash tuns and brew kettles where some of the seats used to be. But not much else has changed over the years. This was the muso pub where everyone seemed to be in a band. The gigs in The Chapel were completely central to the nineties Nottingham indie music scene. There were also regular hip hop nights, punk and hardcore shows and occassional pre-club events to get people ‘in the mood’. It remains an important venue to this day.
Stoney Street, NG1 1LG

The Old Vic
The first home of Night With No Name promotions. Also a comedy haven in the late nineties thanks to Darrell Martin’s Just The Tonic nights. Now Das Kino.
Fletcher Gate, NG1 2FZ


The Potters House
Old music hall taken over by a church. Later renamed The Malt Cross and still open and putting regular gigs on.
St James’s Street, NG1 6FG

Back in the early nineties, this Canning Circus haunt was a haven for comedy and spoken word, with its late 1991 season featuring the likes of John-Cooper Clarke, Mark Steel and Henry Normal. Later rebranded as Pengelly's, Bierkeller and finally The Ropewalk. 
Derby Road, NG1 5BB

Big cheesy nightclub, disco and meat market which has catered for the musically tasteless in the city for decades. This is where Trent Poly Entertainment Secretary Bill Redhead first launched Carwash. Also known as The Palais and Oceana. Now Pryzm.
Lower Parliament Street, NG1 3BB

Rob’s Record Mart
Record hive set up by Northern Soul DJ and former Selectadiscer Rob Smith, happily this place has barely changed over the last two decades and remains open.
Hurts Yard, NG1 6HL

Rock City
What can we say? It’s a local institution and has been Nottingham’s biggest live music venue for forty years. During the nineties you could have seen Nirvana, Blur, The Cure, Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, Orbital and Pulp here. Among many many others. 
Talbot Street, NG1 5GG

Running Horse
Back in the nineties it was a bastion for rock and blues. It’s gone through a few changes of ownership, but it’s still the same now under the guidance of publican Rob Gibson.
Alfreton Road, NG7 3NG

Live music venue and bar that was a hangout for students due to its close proximity to the Poly. Sometime in the noughties this place changed ownership and became The Orange Tree. Then twenty years later it was renamed The Playwright.
Shakespeare Street, NG1 4FQ


Sam Fays
Formerly the Grand Central Diner, this was a decent nineties gigging venue, which put on bands such as Apollo 440 and Back To The Planet. It later became the city's first Hooters
before it was demolished towards the end of the decade.
London Road, NG2 3AE

The city’s most legendary record store which ran from 1966 to 2009 and was a pivotal point in Nottingham’s music scene for five decades. At one point they had three different shops.
Market Street, NG1 6HX

Skyy Club
Radford’s very own nineties venue that hosted nights such as Excessaweez, with all kinds of jazz, folk, dub, roots and ambient action. Later it became Blue Print, and after that it became flats.
Alfreton Road, Radford, NG7 5NH

Square Centre
The city's busiest recording studio of the nineties, which claimed David Bowie and Take That among its clients. Under the guidance of Tim Andrews they were highly supportive of the local scene. Still going under different management; as is Rubber Biscuit studio next door.
Alfred Street North, NG3 1AA

Bar themed after the Roger Moore-fronted television programme The Saint, which briefly housed a Volvo P1800 coupe, like he drove in the series. The building later became a curry house called ‘Posh Spice’ and is now part of Nottingham Trent Uni.
Goldsmith Street, NG1 5JT

The first ever venue for Nottingham Playhouse before it moved up the road. It was opened up in the nineties by Rob Howie-Smith as a classy diner and Overall were there on launch night. In recent years it’s changed to Spanky Van Dykes and Alberts.
Goldsmith Street, NG1 5JT

Trent Poly Students’ Union
An absolute hive for live music in the nineties with, the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Nirvana and Radiohead rocking out the place, as well as comedians like Newman and Baddiel, Eddie Izzard and Bill Hicks doing stand-up. Most of this was due to their booker and manager Bill Redhead. Still there, but mainly just a bar for students these days.
Shakespeare Street, NG1 4GH

Busy bar which held regular house nights such as The Groove Factory. Now a Levi’s Store.
Clumber Street, NG1 3ED


It was only open for four years (1990-1994) but it still has mythic status due to its association with the house scene. Pete Tong, Brandon Block, Paul Oakenfold, Graeme Park, Jeremy Healy and Fatboy Slim all played here.
Stanford Street, NG1 7BQ

Wango Riley's Travelling Stage
A mobile venue complete with artists that Paul Overall booked for that infamous Rock and Reggae gig in 1993. It was owned and run by members of the band Bushfire. The company is still going, but the original stage may not be.
Travelling venue

Warrows Wine Bar
A regular haunt for the Overall crew, mainly because of the cheap cider and Connect 4. It never seemed to sell much wine, just lots of very rough scrumpy. Demolished when the Ibis hotel was built.
Bottle Lane, NG1 2HL

Nightclub which opened up towards the end of the nineties and hosted regular Northern Soul nights from Rob Smith (Rob’s Records). Now Bridezillas Boutique.
Lower Parliament Street, NG1 1EH

Ye Olde Salutation
Still rocking after all these years! Their regular club nights in the attic probably haven’t changed much either.
Hounds Gate, NG1 7AA

Pre-bar for the students who would head on to Ritzy. Shots so cheap you barely had to pay for them. Occasional DJ appearances from Trent Poly gig booker Bill Redhead.
King Edward Street, NG1 1EU


Please note: This article was prepared in January 2020. If things have changed since then we're sorry.

If you'd like to view more 90s Nottingham culture then head over to the Overall There Is A Smell of Fried Onions website

Have we missed out your favourite venue?
If so, it’s probably for one of these reasons:

  • It was open before or after the nineties
  • It was called something else for much of the nineties (see above)
  • To be honest, we thought the place was shit
  • We totally forgot and your memory is much better than ours.

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