A Mansfield Mooch

Kev Neylon
6 min readApr 19, 2024

Mansfield. It’s funny how you remember places years later. I grew up in Leicester. Mansfield isn’t that far away. I went to plenty of other places a similar distance away on numerous occasions, but I only every remember going to Mansfield twice.

Once was on a random summer’s day sometime in the mid-eighties. A day too hot for me and one where the antihistamines were making no impact on my runny nose and itchy eyes. I didn’t see good in anything on a day like that. The miner’s strike was fresh in the town’s memories and the place was hostile and run down.

The only other visit came at a time when everything was drudgery not long before the end of a marriage. Everything looked grey to me. I saw everywhere as a reflection of me. Run down and worn out.

We were going to Mansfield to watch a Crawley Town game, and armed with a camera it is with a much more open mind nowadays I approach a visit to anywhere now.

Walking through the town it is hard to reconcile those overcast memories of previous visits with what I saw today.

Mansfield is a lovely looking town.

We arrive at the Grade II listed Mansfield station (not to be confused with Mansfield Woodhouse, the next station on the line.)

The railway companies have made an effort at their stations to commemorate them, it seems to be especially the case in Nottinghamshire. There are three blue plaques here (after there being two at Nottingham station where we started our journey).

And the building itself has some lovely original touches such as the stained-glass windows.

From here we walk into the centre of the town, starting across a modern enclosed walkway and through the modern bus station, but once out the other side we are on narrow and mainly pedestrianised streets in the centre of the town. Streets boarded by a variety of solid, stone buildings.

It is Market Street we were walking up and it leads into the magnificent Market Square.

With the Cavendish Memorial in the centre of it.

And it is surrounded by grand buildings on all sides.

There is a market on, which takes up about a quarter of the square.

To the west is the aptly named Westgate, and there is a modern shopping centre here. Helen goes into Primark, and I continue to wander the streets.

In the shopping areas there is a look up attitude required. Grand old buildings look like the bog-standard uniform shops on the ground level, but above them there is Georgian, Victorian, and Art Deco stylings to enjoy.

As with most town centres now, some of these buildings stand empty. Shops and businesses have disappeared, and the lovely old buildings are crying out for someone to come and fill them and take care of them once more.

There are so many lovely looking buildings it is hard to reconcile just why I thought Mansfield was such a shithole on previous visits. And I wonder just how much your own mood influences how you see other, or unfamiliar places.

I nip into the museum.

Not with a view to having a proper look around, there isn’t really time for that, even if it did look interesting as I walked past some of the displays.

But I felt it would be a good place to find a pen and fridge magnet of the town, and it was. Even better they also had a Skeg Vegas fridge magnet. Something any Leicester born person can appreciate.

I wandered back round in a loop and back into the Market Square, clicking away in all directions before reuniting with Helen for the amble up under the impressive viaduct for the railway line to the stadium.

Outside of the station I hadn’t seen any blue plaques, but I did stumble across (not quite literally) metal plaques on the ground at various points referencing some of the historic architecture of the town,

Including the church of St Peter’s and St Paul’s.

There may well have been others that I missed as I was too busy looking up at the wonderful buildings and therefore didn’t notice what was beneath my feet (Helen pointed out the first one of them as I was stood on it).

We crossed under the ring road and followed it around past another old church,

And the long row of alms houses,

Before heading up to the football stadium. A ground which claims to be the oldest professional ground in the world.

The result was so much better than expected, and afterwards it was back to the station through the retail park, and the train back to Nottingham.

And memories of Mansfield will be a lot more positive now, it was a pleasant place to have had a wander around.

For other stories of wandering around this year, check out my list

2024 Travels

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.