City Of Caves

The Caves of Nottingham - Broadmarsh Caves

Useful Information

Location: In the city centre of Nottingham.
Broad Marsh Shopping Centre, Drury Walk, Nottingham, NG1 7LS
(52.950519, -1.146059)
Open: All year Mon, Thu-Sun 10-17.
During School Holidays daily 10-17.
Tours 10:30-16 every 10 mnutes.
Fee: Adults GBP 8.75, Children (5-17) GBP 7.65, Children (0-4) free, Students GBP 7.65, Seniors (60+) GBP 7.65, Family (2+2) GBP 26.95.
Joint ticket with National Justice Museum: Adults GBP 17.60, Family GBP 53.63.
Classification: SubterraneaCellar sandstone
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightColoured Light
Dimension: T=16 °C
Guided tours: D=40 min.
Audioguide English Français - French Deutsch - German Español - Spanish
Photography: no
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Tony Waltham (1992): Sandstone Caves of Nottingham, Mercian Geologist 1992, 13(1)
Graham McEwan (1994): Crypts, Caves & Catacombs, Subterranea of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire,
S Baring Gould (1911): Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe, 324 pp illus. This is the first book on European troglodytes and covers, Nottingham, Shropshire, France, in fact most of Europe. BookSabine Baring-Gould: various books
Address: City Of Caves, Garner’s Hill, Nottingham NG1 1HF, Tel: +44-115-9241424. E-mail:
Reservations, Tel: +44-115-988-1985.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1250 Pillar Cave and Tannery built.
08-MAY-1941 caves used as air raid shelter.
AUG-1994 the Caves of Nottingham opened as a tourist attraction.
MAY-2003 reopening of The Caves of Nottingham after a renovation.
Summer 2004 The Caves of Nottingham will be closed while the overlying shopping centre is expanded.


The City of Caves is one of the most well-known and well-connected cave systems. Its actualy name is Broadmarsh Caves. This set of man-made caves was almost lost forever when the modern shopping centre Broadmarsh Centre was built in the 1970s. Thanks to local voluntary groups, the caves were saved and are now open to visitors. Despite the caves, several "sights" were made up, which makes this place a typical British attraction. There are mannequins which start to talk and move, and coloured lights. However, the original design was modernized a few years ago and it is now less kitschy.

In Pillar Cave and Tannery the visitor sees Britain's only underground tannery. The room is called pillar cave, because of a characteristic central pillar. It is maybe the oldest cave dating back to 1250. A tannery operated here from 1500 to 1640, and is said to be Britains only underground tannery. Nottingham was one of very few places in Britain which remained free of the plague. It is believed that this was due to the tannery caves, they prevented rodents from nesting and breeding within the area.

Drury Hill was a narrow and winding cobbled street, which was demolished in 1968. This area of the cave shows how it once looked like. The Victorian Slum has a connection to the caves, as many of the caves were used as slum dwellings. They were cave houses for the poorest and infamous for cramped conditions and insufficient hygiene. Sam Hancock's Caves show how this caves were used as beer cellars for pubs. The constant cool temperature of the caves provided the perfect conditions for the brewing and storage of Nottingham's celebrated ales.

The Air Raid Shelter shows the use of the caves in World War II, when they were transformed onto air raid shelters. During May 1941 an estimated number of 500 bombs were dropped on Nottingham. More than 200 people were killed. But due to the medieval caves most Nottingham citizens stayed safe underground.

There is a great number of water wells inside the caves. The porous sandstone created a natural water source for the citizens. But this worked only in the early times, or probably never, as little thought was given to neighbouring cesspits. The water had a very poor quality and was a source of diseases.

Following the termination of the lease with Caves of Nottingham Ltd, it is now under the jurisdiction of the National Justice Museum. A GBP 50,000 upgrade to the tourist attraction was undertaken in April 2003, followed by a grand reopening in May, with full-time interpreters wearing costumes representing an archaeologist, air raid warden and tanner. The location is rather hidden, under the concrete road and tram bridges of Middle Hill. The easiest way to find the entrance is to go down the staircase from the entrance of the Nottingham Contemporary art museum. Or with a car you follow Canal Street east and before the big roundabout turn left into Cliff Street. Its at the end of the road. The caves are located below the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, which is on the opposite side of the road.