See also Gotham & District Local History Society.
Gotham is an attractive green belt village situated some seven miles south of Nottingham centre and two miles south of the River Trent. With 680 residential dwellings and around 1800 inhabitants, it is within five miles of the Ml motorway and the East Midland Airport.
The land to the east of the village was originally a flood plain. Basic farming, basket making and later framework knitting were the main occupations. This land has now been drained into the Local Fairham Brook to provide good alluvial soil for root crops such as potatoes and sugar beet. To the north, west and south of the village is an amphitheatre of hills of clay soil that is partly covered with trees and bushes. The remainder is devoted to cattle grazing and wheat crops. The land is worked by seven farmers in the village.
These surrounding hills have been heavily mined for gypsum rock since the early 1900s. At their peak the three mine shafts produced some 160,000 tons of building rock thus providing regular employment for many local workers. The last mine closed in 1994 when the gypsum ran out. The mines were originally served in 1900 by a branch line from the Great Central Railway at Ruddington. This branch closed in 1965 when lorry transport became more economical. Part of this branch line adjacent to the village has been converted to a village relief road and the remainder retained as a nature trail.
The village is centred around the church established in 1180, with its Norman nave and 13th century steeple. Other notable adjacent buildings include the medieval Manor House, the old Rectory, the Curates House, Paradise Farm and the Tythe Bam. The present Church Hall built in 1829 was once the Board School until a Primary school was built in 1879 on the Kegworth Road, and now replaced by a new school in 2005. Village children over eleven years of age now attend the Comprehensive School three miles away in East Leake.
Most of the houses in the village date from the 19th century onwards but only one thatched cottage remains. A number of small and attractive housing developments have taken place since the Second World War within the confines of the village perimeter as governed by the green belt regulations. This has made it a desirable place to live for commuters to the adjacent towns of Nottingham, Loughborough and Derby.
The original village Pump structure stands in the Square next to the Church, whilst opposite is the Sun public house, once an old coaching inn. Nearby is the Cuckoo Bush public house recalling the Tales for which Gotham is now famous. The stories relate how the local wise men persuaded King John that they were mad and so persuaded him and his entourage from passing through the village and charging the residents heavy taxes. The Tales include raking the moon out of the pond, trying to drown eels, putting cows on thatched roofs to eat the straw and including fencing the Cuckoo in to hear its song all the year round. These Tales have spread far and wide including America where sometimes New Yorkers are called Gothamites following publications in that city written by Washington Irving. This in turn has spawned the Batman and Robin films.
The two Methodist Chapels and the Band of Hope building have now been converted to residential use.
The Memorial Hall and Recreation Ground is the centre of sporting and social activities for young and old alike such as football, tennis, cricket, bowls and badminton. Attached to the Hall are the local Health Centre, the Library and the Play Group. The whole complex is the venue for the annual village Gala. Gotham is fortunate in having some twenty different organisations and clubs in which residents can participate. Golfers are catered for at the nearby Rushcliffe Golf Course. Many footpaths and bridle paths centred on the village benefit walkers and horse riders alike. The number of shops in the village has declined over the years and presently only the Post office, newsagent, butcher and chip shop survive. The sale of petrol has terminated with the local garage concentrating on car sales and repairs. A frequent bus service based in the village proves easy access to Nottingham and Loughborough. There are a number of small businesses situated locally in converted industrial units including upholstery, computing, kitchenware and book distribution. A horticulture plant and machinery manufacture, an alpine nursery, plus a livery stable complete the picture. Two lorry firms have their depots in the village.