Nottingham Fire Hydrants
by Graham Woodward
These fire hydrants are a bit of a mystery. No-one seems to know anything about them or when they were installed. They are scattered across the older parts of the city.

There are two different styles of hydrant - one with a water outlet at the top facing upwards, and another with the outlet at right angles to the main pipe. The 'top-outlet' type is the most common. The 'side-outlet' models bear the name GD Hughes, cast into the pipe (image below). This relates to George Douglas Hughes who opened a foundry in Nottingham in the mid 1860s.

Hughes was born in Nottingham in 1823 and in 1853 he joined Messrs. W. Benson & Son engineers in Nottingham. He later opened his own company, the Queen's Foundry and Engineering Works, on London Road, Nottingham. In the 1860s his firm supplied safety valves, boilers and steam-powered machinery to many firms in Nottingham. He also supplied pumping engines for Newark and Ilkeston. He later worked with Thomas Hawksley, the engineer for the Nottingham water company, until 1879 when Nottingham Corporation took control of the Nottingham Waterworks Company under the Nottingham Improvement Act.

The hydrants seem to be unique to Nottingham. The design is similar to small French cannon confiscated during the Napoleonic wars and used as bollards at English ports. The rings around the hydrants are reminiscent of those on the cannon that held the barrel in place in the wooden stocks. Perhaps the hydrants were cast using the same moulds as the bollards. Several hydrants have recently been removed, but 13 still remain. The one in Holles Crescent, The Park, is of a completely different design and the only one of its type. (This page is also available as a short version pdf file.)

Fishpond Drive, The Park Estate
Forest Road, Hyson Green
Forest Road, Hyson Green (GD Hughes & Co.)
Denman Street, Radford
Main Street, Bulwell
Mapperley Hall Drive, Mapperley
Nottingham Road, Basford
St Ann's Well Road, St Ann's
St Chad's Road, Sneinton
Vernon Road, Basford
The Wells Road, St Ann's
Windmill Lane, Sneinton
Woodborough Road, St Ann's
Holles Crescent, The Park Estate