Birds Bakery, 4 Poultry


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Shop front of 4 Poultry, including Birds Bakery signage, Nottingham, NG1 2HW


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Statutory Address:
Shop front of 4 Poultry, including Birds Bakery signage, Nottingham, NG1 2HW

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Nottingham (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Shop front designed in 1962 for Birds Confectioners by United Shopfitters of Bristol.

Reasons for Designation

The shop front designed in 1962 for Birds Confectioners by United Shopfitters of Bristol is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a specialised type of shop front making use of finely wrought curved showcases which have a distinctive yet boldly simple design demonstrating an assured handling of this type of commercial architecture;

* few shop fronts of this quality remain from the 1960s so it represents a rare surviving small-scale example;

* the survival of the original ‘Birds’ sign in the corporate copperplate further enhances its interest.

Historic interest:

* the shop’s design clearly places it within the post-war era but it nevertheless incorporates the historic form of the colonnade that is so characteristic of the nearby Market Place;

* it forms an important element in the multi-phase commercial streetscape which is at the heart of the city of Nottingham and contains a great many listed buildings.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with the surrounding listed buildings, notably the Grade II* listed Council House designed by T Cecil Howitt (1924-29) opposite, and contributes to the cumulative impact of this significant townscape.


Nottingham occupies an important strategic site on the sandstone cliffs which command an ancient crossing point of the River Trent to the south of the town, the site of the present Trent Bridge. There was no apparent Roman occupation but some pre-C9 history is indicated by its Saxon name – Snotingeham, homestead of the Snots. Nottingham was one of the five boroughs of the Danelaw but in 921 it was recovered by the Saxons. The medieval walled town consisted of the French settlement to the west dominated by the royal castle built by William Peveral for William the Conqueror, and the Anglo-Danish settlement to the east dominated by St Mary’s Church with the largest market place in England linking them together. The Trent fostered trade and Nottingham prospered in industry and commerce, chiefly wool-dyeing and cloth-making. The medieval town, according to Leland, ‘was both a large town and welle builded for tymber and plaister’ with thatched roofs.

After the Civil War, two fashionable quarters grew up, one round St Mary’s Church, the other round the rebuilt castle, and by the end of the C17, Nottingham was transformed into an elegant town filled with fine brick townhouses, some with generous gardens. A series of visitors left glowing records of the new town created by this rebuilding. Celia Fiennes in 1694 called it ‘the neatest town I have ever seen’, and Daniel Defoe, thirty years later, said it was ‘one of the most pleasant and beautiful towns in England’. Transformation into an industrial city began in the C18 with the commercial success of the domestic framework-knitting industry, salt-glazed stoneware and brick-making at Mapperley. The population nearly doubled from 28,000 in 1801 to 50,000 in 1830, and the gardens, orchards and other green spaces were gradually built over replacing the once green and pleasant town with a congested industrial one. This was largely caused by the corporation townsmen who were not willing to relinquish common land around the town for development. It was only after the reform of the town council in the 1830s and the eventual passing of a series of Enclosure Acts in the 1840s that land around the town was released to allow for the Victorian expansion to begin in earnest.

After the exodus of large numbers of people to the new suburbs, the lace trade took over the streets round St Mary’s Church for its warehouses, and the area became known as the Lace Market. The 1870s saw a spate of public works, such as Trent Bridge (1871), the first Board School (1874), the first industrial dwellings (1876-77), and University College (1877-81); and in 1877 the borough was extended to include Sneinton, Basford, Bulwell, Radford, and Lenton. Nottingham became a city in 1897 but its population increased most significantly when more of the surrounding villages were incorporated in the 1930s and 1950s. Nottingham suffered little war damage but in 1942 a Reconstruction Committee was appointed to plan post-war development. There were major slum clearances and an inner ring road was constructed which disrupted the old town’s plan.

Buildings are shown facing the Poultry on the earliest detailed map of the town centre in 1607. By the late C19 the site was occupied by a four-storey building used as shops and by a house with a central passage leading to a rear courtyard and ultimately to Bank Place. Between 1959 and 1962 the buildings on the site were demolished and replaced by the present structure, consisting of ground-floor shops, a first floor office, and a hotel on the upper floors connected to the neighbouring Flying Horse Hotel. The distinctive curved glass shop front was designed by United Shopfitters of Cheese Lane, St Phillip’s, Bristol, and installed in 1962 for Birds, confectioners. Birds was founded by three brothers – Frank, Thomas and Reginald Bird – in 1919 when they started their first business in Derby. Eight years later they opened a second business and were soon opening up branches across Derby and the surrounding areas. 4 Poultry was their first premises in Nottingham and is still occupied by Birds which has recently changed its name to Birds Bakery. The right hand window of the shop front was smashed and replaced in 2016.


Shop front designed in 1962 for Birds Confectioners by United Shopfitters of Bristol.

MATERIALS: glass with chrome hardware. PLAN: Birds shop front forms the façade of 4 Poultry which is part of a row of buildings along the south side of Poultry and has a central passage leading to a rear yard.

The listing covers the shop front which includes the Birds signage; the mosaic clad columns; and that part of the east side of the central passage up to and including the mosaic cladding.

EXTERIOR: the Birds shop front is recessed behind a colonnade of round columns, in the way customary on the Great Market Place, which are clad in mosaic of small blue and white squares. It has a central doorway with double-leaf glazed doors, flanked by two projecting display windows with tall central sections of curved glass supported on single legs. The recessed bands of glass above and below echo this curved form. The door and windows have chrome hardware. The porch is laid in pale grey terrazzo which also forms a shallow plinth around the lower glazed band. The narrow strip of wall on the right hand side of the curved windows is clad in mosaic of small grey, white and red squares, as is part of the east side of the central passage. Above the shop front is the original copperplate ‘Birds’ sign in illuminated lettering.


Books and journals
Morrison, K, English Shops and Shopping An Architectural History, (2003)
Powers, Alan, Shop Fronts, (1989)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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