Nottingham’s Malt Cross renovation unearths hidden treasures

    (L-R) Matt Hodgkins, Contracts Manager, Taylor Pearson Construction, Robert Pitchford Director of EP Consulting, Jo Cox-Brown, Chief Executive of The Malt Cross Trust, Steve Saunders, Lead Consultant and Partner at William Saunders. Photo by Marcus Holdsworth Photography
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    Hidden rooms, secret passageways and examples of historic art work – these are just some of the things that have been uncovered as work gets underway as part of a major renovation at Nottingham’s Malt Cross, a cafe, bar and events venue in St James’s Street, Nottingham www.maltcross.com.

    Egyptian-themed artwork found at the Malt Cross
    Egyptian-themed artwork found at the Malt Cross

    Two previously unused floors and a 13th-century cave underneath the former Music Hall are being transformed into a new state-of-the-art heritage, education, tourism, arts, crafts and music centre. The project, which also includes a refurbishment of the existing bar area and gallery space, is being partly funded by a £1.38m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. With work now under way, the building teams have made a number of unique discoveries:

    A replica frieze relief of a goddess
    A replica frieze relief of a goddess

    The entrance to a secret passageway to the cave, the original purpose of which is being investigated.

    A traditional (potentially Victorian) barrel holder found at the Malt Cross
    A traditional (potentially Victorian) barrel holder found at the Malt Cross

    The discovery of an entrance to a secret passageway and room (approx 12ft x 12ft x 20ft), hidden behind a fake wall in the basement toilets.

    A secret passage found at the Malt Cross, Nottingham
    A secret passage found at the Malt Cross, Nottingham

    A traditional (potentially Victorian) barrel holder with original weights, which was concealed behind a wall.

    An authentic Victorian glazed brick archway.

    Egyptian-themed artwork, believed to be from the early twentieth century, was discovered on the walls on the lower basement floor. (British interest in replicating Egyptian style had started as early as 1830 but it was the Egyptian excavations by prominent British archaeologists during the 1920s and 1930s that lead to ‘Egytomania’ in England, with this style influencing fashion, architecture and interior decorating).

    A selection of wallpaper fragments dating from various points in Malt Cross history.

    A replica frieze relief of a goddess made by the British Museum (approximately 1960).

    A number of pieces of ephemera such as old cigarette packets and matchbooks. These are a great source of social history and insight into past advertising styles.

    Some of the items are undergoing further research to determine more about their history and it is hoped that many of them will be go on display when the building reopens in October.

    “We knew we could unearth one or two treasures, but certainly not this many,” commented Jo Cox-Brown, chief executive of the Malt Cross Trust. “We’ve also uncovered some fascinating details about the building we’ve got to know so well over the years. Some of the columns in our basement were encased in concrete. The original cast iron columns have now been exposed and undergone extensive paint analysis, to reveal the original paint scheme of

    empress green marble. We have also done some work on the glass floor panels to restore them to their former glory. Everyone is really excited to discover more about the items we’ve already found and see what we uncover next as we dig deeper!”

    For further details on the Malt Cross, visit www.maltcross.com or for live updates on progress see our social media – @maltcross – www.facebook.com/maltcrossnotts

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