3 September 2011

Samuel Cox and Bulwell, Nottingham

I discovered this plaque by the stream in the heart of Bulwell, Nottingham today:

'The name is supposed to have been derived from a spring, which runs out of the Bunter Sandstone over a bed of clay near to the northern end of the forest which was called "Bull Well". Dr Mutschmann, in his book "The Place Names of Nottinghamshire", suggests that the first part of the name may stand for a person - Bulla, or even a bull: alternatively, it may describe the bubbling sound produced by the flowing water of the spring.

'However, the architect of the British School Building in Bulwell, a man with a sense of humour, inscribed on a stone the pretty legend beginning:

"Once upon a time a bull digging his horns into the rock, and the water gushing out"'.

Er, yes. The interesting thing, though, is that this is followed by a poem from Samuel Cox:

'How well I remember the scenes of my childhood,
Where with my companions I've rambled so free,
And slid down the sand-rock that borders on Bestwood,
And filled the pure air with our innocent glee.
Where o'er the green Forest I've rambled for hours,
And rolled down the hills, and enjoyed it so well,
From many a gorse bush have plucked off the flowers,
And drank of the cold stream that flows from Bul-Well.'

This is not the best poetry that a Nottingham son has produced, but the fact the Parks Department is promoting poetry is to be applauded. So who was Samuel Cox?

That's an interesting question. There is one Samuel Cox (1826–1893) listed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography who was a religious journalist and author who began working at the London docks at the age of fourteen and who went on to London University and became a baptist pastor in Southsea. In 1859 a throat complaint caused him to turn to writing for about four years, but on his cure he accepted a post as pastor at the Mansfield Road Baptist Chapel in Nottingham, where he remained for twenty-five years. Although he retired to Hastings, Sussex, where he died, he was buried in the General Cemetery in Nottingham. The ODNB notes that in spite of Cox's undoubted skills as a minister, he was a writer above all else.

I'm very grateful to the Parks Department, Nottingham, for encouraging me to Google 'Samuel Cox' and uncover such interesting information about this man, but of course the stated facts in the ODNB don't necessarily mean that the 'Bulwell' Samuel Cox is the same person as the minister.

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