Visit Notts ventured back in time to discover the history of Nottingham through experiencing working-class Victorian nightlife. The Malt Cross is a revived jewel of the past that gave Nottingham a distinctly lively character, and we couldn't resist the chance to re-live it.

Walking into the Malt Cross, you immediately notice the arched roofing, a true architectural masterpiece designed by Edwin Hill – a little known local architect in 1877. The patchy glass flooring has been the shining prism of light for all types of leisurely endeavours, from ice skating rinks to a Michelin restaurant. An 8-foot stage at the far end of the hall brought joy and happiness into the daily lives of the working-class, being the platform from which famous performer Sam Torr rose to fame.

Situated on St James’s Street, the Malt Cross is a now a lively hub for the city to gather in and enjoy. Hosting events all year round from tasting sessions, exhibitions and workshops, there's always a reason to drop in whenever you're passing by. The best way to experience the hall’s culture, however, is to take the Heritage Tour – a perfect introduction to what will inevitably become a lasting relationship with the venue.

The tour begins on the upper level of the Hall, beneath the high-rise arches that are embedded with glass windows to provide light throughout the day. The Malt Cross is one of the last remaining Victorian Music Halls in the country and has a truly marvellous story. A Heritage Lottery Fund gave the Malt Cross the ability to restore the Hall to its original splendour, so that each sofa is placed just as it would have been over a hundred years ago.

The tour makes its way downstairs, on to the ground floor, where the pub & kitchen serve some of the best pub food and craft beer in the city. The merlot coloured sofas in the centre offer a complete view of the bar and stage. Here, we encounter the glass tile flooring that was a leap ahead of its time when first installed, bringing light to the lower levels of the Malt Cross under the main floor of entertainment.

The tour then continues outside, where you encounter the oddly named Roebuck Inn across the road (to find out why it's odd, book the tour!). St James’s Street may appear a thin stretch between Old Market Square and the busy Maid Marian Way, but in 19th century Nottingham, it was a centre of life in the city, taking you all the way up to Nottingham Castle. The tour gives you insights into why the street is so special and offers a glimpse of life in Nottingham before the WWI.

Heading further downstairs, the tour takes you into what is now a workshop space, hosting all sorts of events from improv sessions to soap making lessons. Once upon a time, however, this floor was the gateway to an ice rink, later converted into a snooker lounge by the restaurateur who ran the Michelin Starred Italian eatery in the very same space you will visit! The versatility of the space is incredible, and you are guaranteed to leave the tour feeling a renewed sense of cultural belonging to the city, realising that Nottingham is hiding treasures in corners that are often walked by without a glance.

So book your tickets now for the Malt Cross Heritage Tour, and be sure to give them a call, since the tour can often come along with a complimentary stroll into the caves that are hidden below it (please check the Malt Cross event listing for details of whether the caves are open). 

The Malt Cross Heritage Tour takes place on various Saturdays throughout the year, 10:30am and 12:30pm, and costs £5 per person. Please note that there is no lift access to the caves.

This blog was written by guest writer for Visit Nottinghamshire, Zain Tiwana.

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Malt Cross Heritage Tour: Music Hall & Caves
Guided Walk
Malt Cross Heritage Tour: Music Hall & Caves

Come along and join an hour-long guided tour of the Malt Cross music hall and the old sandstone caves below.

Malt Cross
Pub/Inn
Malt Cross

Malt Cross is an Grade-2 listed Victorian Music Hall set at the heart of Nottingham city centre, just off Old Market Square.

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