One of Nottingham’s newest pubs has been given a name from the past and with good reason. When workmen were undertaking the conversion on the former Barclays Bank at Hockley into a public house (a commendable action, all banks should be converted into pubs), they found some two hundred tankards with the name ‘Bunker’s Hill’ etched on them.
To commemorate this enjoyable find the new pub was named the Bunker’s Hill Inn with some of the booty displayed. But where was the original house and from where did it get its unique name?
Bunker’s Hill was a small lane running parallel to and on the north side of the then Parliament Row (now part of Lower Parliament Street). Between the two roads was a narrow block of property, which included the Bunker’s Hill public house.
Now, whether the lane gave its name to the pub or vice versa I do not know but the earliest record of the pub, in 1799, gives its address as Parliament Row. By 1834 it has become 25 Bunker’s Hill only to be re-addressed as 23 Parliament Street by 1895.
The Bunker’s Hill was one of the many public houses to disappear with the building of the sadly demolished Nottingham Victoria Station.
If the street got its name first we must consider a couple of points. Those of you who know the topography of the land between Milton Street and Glasshouse Street will agree there are not many hills. So the lane ‘Bunker’s Hill’ does not appear to have been named after a feature of landscape and anyway, who was Bunker?
Bunker Hill was a battle during the siege of Boston in the American War of Independence. The British realised the hill was strategically useful and decided to move onto it.
They did not know the American rebels also had had this idea, got there first and built a redoubt on it (the bunker of Bunker Hill fame).
The 17th June 1775 saw the Redcoats storm the redoubt and after three attempts it fell into British hands but with dreadful cost; one thousand casualties to the British and four hundred and fifty on the American side.
There has been a long tradition of naming pubs after British successes in war so this might explain Bunker’s Hill but somewhere along the line Bunker has received the apostrophe S.
I no longer live in Nottingham so research can give me difficulties therefore I am, as ever, in debt to the Nottingham historian and writer Terence White for his help and advice.
Mark Andrew Pardoe