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29 October 2014
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Pub names - Bendigo / Hermitage
Bendigo/ The Hermitage
  The Hermitage is found by Sneinton Hermitage and obviously takes its name from the area in which it is sited.

The house took this name on reopening in 1999 after spending a period of time dormant.

The pub’s original name remembered one of Nottingham’s greatest sportsmen and characters, Bendigo. His statue still stands on the corner of the pub in suitably pugilistic stance.

William Abendigo Thompson was born the last of 21 children in New Yard (now Trinity Walk). He came into this world on 11th October 1811 one of triplets. His fellow triplets were given the names Shadrach and Meshack.

His father died when he was 15 and after a stay in the Nottingham Workhouse, he chiselled a living selling oysters around Nottingham’s streets.

He was extremely fit and excelled at running, somersaulting, stone throwing, cricket, cock-fighting, badger baiting and fishing but it was for boxing he gained fame. He took up prize fighting at the age of 21.

His first famous fight was against the considerable talents of Ben Caunt, a miner from Hucknall on 21st July 1835. He avoided all heavy blows by quick footwork and generally annoyed both Ben and the spectators with his antics and constant laughter.


Bendigo won in the 23rd round. That bout was short when compared with the 93rd round victory over William Looney at Chapel en le Frith.

A shorter fight occurred when Bendigo took on Deaf Burke, the Champion of England. Deaf head-butted our hero twice in the tenth round and the fight and championship were gifted to Bendigo.

He fought on until his fortieth year and retired to take up the unofficial position of boxing coach at Oxford University.

He was unsuited to life amongst the scholars and soon made his way back to Nottingham.

He fell in with a collection of ne’er-do-wells and drunkards (Nottingham Forest supporters?) and had 28 holidays in Nottingham’s House of Correction for being drunk and disorderly.

Nevertheless, he managed to save three people from drowning in the River Trent when he was 59.

One day in 1872 Bendigo dropped into the Mechanics Institute and his life was changed. He listened to the preaching of the converted collier Richard Weaver and was invited onto the stage.

He was convinced of the error of his ways and joined the Edenezer Lodge of Templars. He took up preaching and when his old cronies interrupted him, he would either use his quick wit or set about them with his fists.

Bendigo died on 23rd August 1880 seven weeks after falling down the stairs of his home in Beeston, Nottinghamshire.

His grave is marked by a stone in the Bath Street Garden (a former burial ground in Nottingham) where it is the only memorial not to have been moved.

Mark Andrew Pardoe

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