Wednesday, 1 June 2011

News - Guide Margaret emerges from caves after 40 years (Nottingham)

THE longest-serving member of staff at the City of Caves is retiring after more than 40 years of giving tours.

Margaret Harrison was involved with the caves from the late 1960s, when they were rediscovered during the building of the Broadmarsh shopping centre.

She initially gave tours as a volunteer, until taking early retirement from teaching in 1994. That was when the caves opened as a tourist attraction.

She stayed there until 2003 when the Galleries of Justice took over. She was invited to return three years later and stayed until they temporarily closed last month while the shopping centre is redeveloped.

Margaret, from Carlton, said: "I have always held the view that when Westfield closes the caves for refurbishment then that would be my time to close too.

"So, with some regret and such a lot of happy memories it's time for me to retire."

Nottingham has more man-made caves than anywhere else in Britain.

The City of Caves – carved from soft Sherwood sandstone – includes a medieval tannery and recreations of the 19th-century slums of Drury Hill and of a war-time air raid shelter.

Gary Holmes, general manager of the Galleries of Justice Museum, said: "What Margaret doesn't know about the City of Caves isn't worth knowing.

"She is also well-known around the city as a Blue Badge Guide, conducts tours of the Council House and puts her own unique slant on a Nottingham Pub Trail which, I understand, is very entertaining."

The caves and dungeons at the Galleries are still open for business as usual during the refurbishment.

Nicola Burley, director of enterprise and operations for the Galleries and the City of Caves, said: "Margaret is irreplaceable and will be missed by myself and all her colleagues.

"We wish Margaret all the very best for the future."

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