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jed brignall college street picture The home page image is a painting commissioned from Jed Brignal in 2006 to celebrate 160 years of public education on college street and as part of a project to encourage young artists.

A Brief History of College Street


The Centre was originally built as The People's College in 1846, with funds raised by public subscription, to provide "education for the working classes of Nottingham and the neighbourhood, for ever". Transferred to the Nottingham School Board in 1879, the buildings on College Street were expanded to meet the needs of the developing Victorian education legislation, with the Ropewalk building being added in 1888. They were used variously for infant, junior and secondary education until 1924.


Ropewalk School Standard III - 1911

From 1924 until 1945 the College became a junior technical school for the building trades. In 1925 the premises on College Street became a boys "central school", specialising in the sciences and equipped with chemistry and physics laboratories; this school closed in 1941. In 1945 the junior technical school for the building trades became a secondary school for the same purpose until it closed in 1965.

People's College of Further Education was set up in 1950, using rooms at College Street and other city locations. People's College of Further Education continued to use the College Street and Ropewalk buildings after moving to new premises on Castle Road in 1959. The Trent Polytechnic, now Nottingham Trent University, started its acclaimed theatre design course here during the 70s and Nottingham Playhouse used part of the buildings as a store for many years.

The College Street Centre for the Performing Arts first occupied the building on the Ropewalk in November 1988, when the first performances were given by Acorn Young People's Theatre and Dance Company and 11th Session Senior Drama Workshops. People's College of Further Education vacated the College Street premises in 1989 to allow extensive refurbishment and alteration of the building to be carried out. The building then came into use as part of the College Street Centre for the Performing Arts in September 1990. The Centre was officially opened on 12th July 1991 by Kenneth Branagh together with Councillor Fred Riddell, Chairman of Nottinghamshire Education Committee.

Until April 1998, it was the focus for Nottinghamshire Education's Arts in Education provision and was the creative base for local, regional, national and international projects. Nottinghamshire Education Theatre Company performed on the Edinburgh Fringe every year from 1989-1995 under the direction of Alistair Conquer. They won a Fringe First and the Fringe section of the Evening News Cavalcade five consecutive times. Studio 12 was dismantled to create Venue 16 at Davie Street, which ran 6 shows over two weeks together with the Brassery performing at other venues. Reviews were consistently good and audiences high. Productions also toured to Poznan in Poland in '92, '95, '96 and '98. They returned to Edinburgh in 1997.

In April 98, College Street was transferred to the new City of Nottingham LEA and continued to provide Arts activities for everyone from the "Cradle to the Grave". As part of the Lifelong Learning Division, College Street was also the base for Curriculum Enrichment Services, which besides the Arts, includes Health, PE&Sports and Environmental Education, Study Support and a range of other functions.

Since 2001, besides a number of name changes and reductions of provision through limited budgets, the Arts in Education provision has been maintained through a specific emphasis on Youth Theatre, Dance and Visual Art Courses (see below), Sandfield Theatre and a considerable expansion of the Music Service. The Curriculum Service, now in the Schools' Services of Children's Services, is still responsible for Sport and PE, Healthy Schools, Environmental Education and Study Support, as well as, now, International Dimension, E-Learning, Participation and School Councils, SACRE, and CPD for Schools. The Nottingham Community Wardrobe continues to develop alongside a conferencing and AV presentation strand of business run by the Technical team.

If you think there is a mistake in the short history above and you could put us right on some aspect of the earlier history then
please contact us. We would particularly like to hear from you if you have been a student here and you can send us details for the "Where are they now?" section.

About College Street

Nottingham Youth Theatre
Events Archive

The Nottingham Education Trust
Nottingham Music Service
Dance 4
Origin-Art in Motion
Nottingham Playhouse
AGF Performing Arts

Arts in Education
EVOLVE - Off-Site Visits approval system
Healthy Schools
Languages & International Dimension - EMILE

Technical Equipment Hire
Nottingham Comunity Wardrobe
Room Hire
School Sport
School Swimming
Nottingham Schools F.A. and their History

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