Geography & Location
When the Centre was first founded in 1971 , it set up its base on Pelham Street in central Nottingham.
Soon after, the Centre relocated to a new space on Angel Row. It was here that the Nurseries Campaign and the Women’s Abortion and Contraception Group were established, and where the Women Now magazine (est. 1960s) met on a Thursday evening to discuss editorials which would propagate feminist values and address neglected subject matters.
By 1978, the Centre had found a new home at Shakespeare Street. Though the building suffered from rot and damp, it created a new and energetic space for regional women’s organising to blossom.
You can find out more about the history of the Centre, and of feminism in Nottingham, by reading Women’s Liberation in Nottingham: A Portrait by Natasha Picôt which is available in Nottingham Women’s Library (on the top floor of our building!)
This page was written for us, using that book as a guide, by Lily Gordon Brown.
Overview and key dates for Nottingham Women’s Centre
Archival information compiled by Val Wood
1971- 1972 The first Women’s Centre was established on Pelham Street, Cobden Chambers – next to an old lace factory. Nottingham City Council provided the rooms for a small rent. The Centre was run by volunteers. Meetings of the Nottingham Women’s Liberation Group were held there as well as discussion and planning groups, and a Consciousness Raising (CR) group.
1972 – 1977 The Centre moved to Newcastle Chambers on Long Row. A minute book dated 1974 and a rent book for 1978 form part of the FAE Feminist Archives Midlands East at MSC University of Nottingham.
1977 – 1986 the Centre relocated to Shakespeare Street. The Centre was run by a volunteer co-ordinating group which dated to 1982.
1977 The Rape Crisis group formed at the Centre. An emergency phone line was established at the Centre for domestic violence. The Nottingham Open Door group was formed and operated from the Centre, referred to as NOD. This was a group dedicated to finding accommodation for women leaving refuges. In 1981 this became the Open -Door Housing Association. A pregnancy testing service was introduced and run by volunteers at the Women’s Centre.
In 1980 The Nottingham Rape Crisis counselling line was established. Nottingham Women’s Aid Advice Centre phone line and drop-in were also established at the Centre.
1980 Nottingham Women’s Information Library Women’s Centre is established as well as Nottingham Women’s Health Information Centre and Women’s Health group.
In 1981 a Women’s Liberation Group at the Centre starts to produce the ‘Nottingham Women’s Diary’ newsletter.
1981 A bisexual women’s group was formed and met at the Centre.
In 1984 The Women’s Centre works with Nottingham City Council to consider moving to a new place in St James Street – the building opposite the Malt Cross. The minutes of the Women’s Centre refer to a New Women’s Centre and discussions take place regarding adaptations but the proposed move does not take place.
1986 The Centre relocates to 30 Chaucer Street – where it remains today! The ‘work on’ collective began renovating the building with women moving from Sheffield and London to get involved. The Centre was opened by Jo Richardson MP in 1987. The Centre pledged endorsement of the 7 Demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Rooms were also allocated for a Lesbian Centre which opened in October 1987. This is separately managed by a co-ordinating group. The Lesbian Centre was still going up until 2002.
The 1987 reports of the Women’s Centre refer to the following rooms:
- Black Women’s Room – this is titled the Themba Salema Room – African Caribbean Women’s Group. The meaning translated is Trusted, Hope, Faith and Peace.
- Lesbian Centre – rooms– these were located on the top floor where the library is now.
- Women for Peace room
- Outreach workers/ Festival organisers room
- Pregnancy Testing Room
- Women’s Aid Rooms
In 1989 the Women’s Centre became a Community Association and is classed as a Community Centre. Funding was received from Nottingham City Council and rooms were available to rent. Permanent jobs in outreach work and volunteer coordination were created.
In 1989 the Nottingham Domestic Violence Forum NDVF was launched in partnership with local statutory and voluntary agencies and has its base at the Women’s Centre – but is separate from the management of the Women’s Centre.
By 1990 27 different groups were using the Women’s Centre.
In 1994 The initial coordinating group became the General Committee which goes on to run the centre.
In 1998 NWC trustees agree a policy on trans inclusion – creating a Trans inclusive women’s organisation – one of the first in Nottingham and the UK.
In 2000 The Nottm Women’s Counselling Project is based at the Centre with 15-20 counsellors.
In 2001/2002 The Centre opens a UK Online Centre offering IT courses and drop-in sessions to use computer equipment. This was part of a national network of such centres.
A selection of training courses are offered through the TED (Training, Employment and Development) project, as well as careers advice and business advice.
In 2004 the Centre became a PLC and obtained charity status. It merged three bank accounts – core, crèche and TEDS.
In 2008/9 15 staff are employed at the Centre across the crèche and TED. The CHANGES project starts which works with women in the Criminal Justice System.
In 2013 The Centre records 9,350 visits by women to the Centre. The ‘WOLAN’ project which documents the Centre history and history of women’s liberation in Nottingham starts using Heritage Lottery Funding. The RENEW Counselling Service also begins.
In 2013 Nottingham Women’s Aid Integrated Services, Nottingham Rape Crisis Centre and Platform 51 are all located at the Centre.
In 2014 Work that would eventually become Nottingham’s Misogyny Hate Crime campaign kicks off when Mel Duffill-Jeffs, the Centre manager at the time, found herself asking: “What about the things women experience because they’re women?” The Centre works together with Nottingham Citizens and Nottinghamshire Police to become the first place in the UK where misogyny is categorised as a form of hate crime. The meeting that launched the campaign was held at Nottingham Trent University in 2015.
In 2014 The ‘Communities Of Interest’ Gender & Sexual Orientation Consortium is started by the Centre working together with Nottingham City Council and key organisations throughout Nottingham. As part of this, the Women’s Organisations Network begins. The Centre now begins a special focus on partnership working and engaging women’s groups in Nottingham.
In 2014 Nottingham Women’s Library is established and launched in the space previously used by The Lesbian Centre.
In 2015 (ish!) The grassroots ‘Reclaim the Night’ march is started up again in Nottingham and the Centre is involved in the organisation along with other organisations across Nottingham.
In 2017/18 The #Timesup campaign takes off following the #metoo movement. The campaign sees unions and the Centre come together to take action against the harassment of women – particularly in the workplace.
In 2018 The Centre is awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
In 2018 The Centenary Cities Nottingham partnership project with Nottingham City Council is established – a celebration of 100 years since Votes for Women. The Centre works with Nottingham Women’s History Group, Letrice Serrant, Rachel Armitage, Joanne Ratcliffe and Val Wood on a series of events across Nottinghamshire.
In 2020 The Centre begins a new project with the Ministry of Justice working with women coming out of the Criminal Justice System.
April 2021 – March 2022 At the Centre:
132 contacts with women per week
1,660 hours of one-to-one counselling were delivered
285 women on probation were supported
585 women attended our courses and activities
60% of women noted an increase in their skills after attending our courses
77 women volunteered with us