Bendigo in Modern Times – New Image

Let’s look at where we are in terms of what Bendigo looked like.


Possibly the only photograph of BendigoIt is difficult to find an image of Bendigo from back in the day. One photograph has surfaced that appears to be from after he retired in 1850. He looks very smart and is possibly now involved with the church. We know he joined the church in 1872, when photography was still in the early stages of development. It is worth noting that it was 1890 before photographs started to replace drawings in newspapers.

This is a copy of probably the only photograph of Bendigo.



Bendigo and Caunt


During his career there are a handful of paintings, mainly depicting his fights, with Ben Caunt in particular attracting attention. This one was used for the cover of the most accurate book on his life. Don’t forget that you can order the book from us and proceeds will go to the fund.

In 1841, Nottingham’s first portrait photographer began operating. Sport photography was a long way off. In 1845 Bendigo beat Ben Caunt in the rematch. The fight was 93 rounds lasting 2 hours ans 10 minutes. A good reason to record the event was in a painting.





Who painted this portrait and when?

Who painted this portrait and when?


There was also a portrait of him painted.

But who was responsible for these images?

When and where were they created?






A few weeks ago we reported on a Fine Art student who had been inspired to do a project on Bendigo. This has now been completed and here are the results. The artist Lynne Tillyard has given us permission to use the images in our fundraising. They will be available on T-shirts very soon. They are modern, vibrant and celebrating what Bendigo means to Nottingham and the sport of boxing. They are brilliant. One hundred and sixty seven years after he died, people still want to get to know him. Look out for the crooked nose.

Pride of NottinghamConan Doyle wrote in Bendigo’s Sermon in 1911.

You didn’t know of Bendigo! Well, that knocks me out! Who’s your board school teacher? What’she been about?

Chock-a-block with fairy-tales — full of useless cram,And never heard o’ Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham!

Serious and thoughtful


The next image is based the only photograph we have. It shows Bendigo in his prime. Serious and ready to fight.




What about this one?

Some of the most common styles of graffiti use names within the image, known as a tag, it is simply his or her personalised signature. Tags can contain subtle and sometimes cryptic messages, and may incorporate the artist’s crew initials or other letters. This is Bendigo fighting out of poverty.






Contact us for information on merchandise bearing these new images.

Froch Brothers step up to the mark!

The name Froch is well known beyond the City of Nottingham. Carl and his brother Lee both started out at Phoenix ABC in Gedling Nottingham. Carl went on to great success as a professional, whereas Lee’s boxing was put on hold for 16 years, until 2015 after Carl retired.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Carl Martin Froch MBE (born 2 July 1977) is a British former professional boxer who competed from 2002 to 2014, and currently works as a boxing analyst and commentator for Sky Sports. He is a four-time super-middleweight world champion, having held the WBC title twice between 2008 to 2011; the IBF title from 2012 to 2015; and the WBA (Unified) title from 2013 to 2015. At regional level he held the British, Commonwealth, and English super-middleweight titles, and won the Lonsdale Belt in 2006. As an amateur, Froch won a bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships, and the ABA title twice; all in the middleweight division.

Froch was voted Fighter of the Year for 2012 by World Boxing News and BoxRec. In 2013, the UK edition of GQ magazine voted him Sportsman of the Year. He reached a peak of number six pound for pound by both BoxRec and The Ring magazine, and in 2013 was listed by the BBC as the best British pound for pound boxer. Froch’s professional career spanned fourteen years until his retirement in 2015. Known for his aggressive crowd-pleasing style, stamina, and toughness, Froch is considered by many to have one of the hardest chins of his era.

Carl has personally signed two copies of the book Bendigo Right Fist of God. These will be auctioned to raise funds for our cause. Whilst speaking to his brother Lee we discussed his appearance in a short documentary about Bendigo which was made around twenty years ago. Lee remembers it well, as he played the part of Ben Caunt, complete with false beard!

This was made by ITV and includes an interview with the Sheffield author JP Bean.

The videos are only a few minutes long. Conan Doyle’s Bendigo’s Sermon is quoted in the footage too.

Bendy’s short for Bendigo. You should see him peel! Half of him was whalebone, half of him was steel,

Fightin’ weight eleven ten, five foot nine in height, Always ready to oblige if you want a fight.










A Busy March for the Bendigo Team

It’s been a busy few weeks on the Bendigo Team, out and about in the community.

We were invited to a professional boxing night and raised some funds from the very supportive crowd. Many thanks to trainer and promoter Scott Calow for the invitation. Our next boxing event will at the event of Steve Ward in April when he fights an American for the Super Veteran Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Our friend and supporter Marcellus Baz has been focussing on raising funds to secure the future of the Nottingham School of Boxing. He invited us over when Frank Bruno MBE visited to show his support. Frank spoke to everyone there and put some pads on allowing the youngsters to do some sparring with the former World Champion.


We were also allowed to speak at a number of events, raising our profile within the social enterprise and local history community. One event was a first for Nottingham. It is called Soup and originated from Detroit in the USA. People arrange a venue and a meal (usually soup). Those attending pay £5 and four people are invited to talk about their social enterprise. Everyone then votes and one of the four takes all the proceeds for their campaign. We did not come away with the money but met some great people and told them all about Bendigo.

The Nottingham Civic Society also allowed us to talk about our plans for a Bendigo Heritage Trail. We joined Robert Nieri who was talking about another Nottingham sporting pioneer Herbert Kilpin the founder of AC Milan Football Club no less. We sold several of our Bendigo books along with Robert’s book The Lord of Milan.

The News Community have also been keen to get involved. NottsTV and the Nottingham Post continue to support us and a national BBC programme are planning on filming with us in April.

Most recently, we were handed the final pieces of art created by Lynne Tillyard at Central College. This was as part of her Foundation Degree in Fine Art. Her work is stunning and she has focussed on a pop art style. We have permission to use her work in our fundraising.

Bendigo is now well and truly into the 21st Century!

Copyright Lynne Tillyard

Copyright Lynne Tillyard

Art Student inspired by Bendigo Story

This week we were invited to Central College in Nottingham to visit an art student who has been inspired by the Bendigo story. Lynne Tillyard is studying full time for a Foundation Degree in Fine Art Practice.  Alongside practical workshops and personal studio work, students are encouraged to develop their own creative practices with an academic understanding of both historical and contemporary ideas and issues.

And that is where Bendigo comes into the spotlight. Lynne originates from Scotland and when she came to Nottingham she was surprised that Nottingham’s rich heritage is not spoken about more.

Both Lynne and her tutor Michelle Keegan are keen boxing fans and when they saw our website and learnt about him, they were inspired.

Lynne wanted to bring his image into the 21st century and go for a pop art style that hopefully will inspire others. Three images of him rising out of the fires of hell is a really bold and vivid piece of work.

Thanks to Lynne for choosing us as her client and giving us permission to use the final images in our fundraising.

We are also preparing to design a heritage trail that will allow people to visit Nottingham and see the locations of Bendigo’s Nottingham. With art work like this it should be good.

Details of the art degree course can be found at

Art student Lynne Tillyard with Bendigo

Art student Lynne Tillyard with tutor Michelle Keegan – Bendigo Fans


Happy New Year and Thanks

A belated ‘Happy New Year’ to our supporters.

The fund is now almost a year old and whilst the fundraising has a very long way to go, we feel that it has been a good year where we have met many interesting people who deserve our thanks. Had had it not been for William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson, we would not have had the pleasure.

Our local politicians, MPs and Councillors have been behind us, which means that when we are in a position to talk about details then we will be ready.

A number of venues have supported us in hosting our events. The Maze on Mansfield Road (where Bendigo reputedly trained) where we ended our pub crawl, The Bonington Theatre in Arnold (where we saw the film about Mohammed Ali, not to know that he was in the last few months of his life), Southbank City on Friar Lane where we put on a music night. It was great to see two of Nottingham’s best bands playing along with images of the Bendigo story on the many screens in the venue. Thanks to the Golden Troubadours and The Mocking Jays for the gig.

It has been a pleasure to meet and form friendships with various people and groups. Marcellus Baz of the Nottingham School of Boxing has been at all of our events. Anyone watching the BBC Sports personality of the Year Awards will have seen Marcellus receive the Unsung Hero Award from Prince William in front of millions of people. It is a shame that his project has now got a problem in terms of finding and funding a new training venue. If you are able to donate to this then please do. There is a crowd-funding  page by clicking here

His need is more urgent than Bendigo’s statue.

Local boxer Leigh Wood has always supported us and we look forward to following his career and getting to some of his fights along with another local and veteran boxer Steve Ward. Steve will be fighting for a world title in Mansfield in April.

The Sneinton Community have also got behind us and we have met some great people from Sneinton Alchemy, Sneinton Market and the Sneinton Festival Organisers.

When we started our campaign the main book about Bendigo was Bold as a Lion which many of us have used to understand his story. We then discovered that a Nottingham writer, Alan Dance was releasing another book as a novel but which had been researched carefully, revealing previously unknown facts about Bendigo’s life. Bendigo – The Right Fist of God was published with and two of our ambassadors presented the book to the Mayor of Bendigo in Australia.

Our final thanks go to The Pheasant Inn in Radford Nottingham who raised a tidy sum in a Boxing Day raffle, with half the money going to us and the other to a local charity. This pub was recently awarded special status as a community asset. Being 180 years old it may well have had Bendigo stood at the bar at some point.

The Pheasant Inn

Thanks everyone and we look forward to the year ahead.

Ambassadors visit Bendigo Australia

Ambassadors meet Cllr Fyffe

Daniel and Hannah with Mayor of Bendigo

Since we started our fundraising, we have established links with the town of Bendigo in Victoria Australia. On 17th October two of our ambassadors, Daniel and Hannah visited the town and presented the Mayor of Bendigo with a copy of the book, Bendigo Right Fist of God signed by the author Alan Dance.  They also managed to spend a day in the town and see this historic Australian town that bears our hero’s name. tells us that:

Bendigo is a grand and gracious city. It was the place of one of the world’s most exciting gold rushes, with more gold found here between 1850 and 1900 than anywhere else in the world. The city is literally built on gold, gathered from the rich gold-bearing quartz reefs. Around nine billion dollars worth of gold was found in Bendigo, making it the second highest producing gold field in Australia after Kalgoorlie, and seventh richest field in the world. Historic and elaborate bank buildings line the main streets, with gold smelter chimneys an ever-present reminder of the riches from the gold fields. People came from across the world to seek their fortune in Bendigo in the mid to late 1800’s. Alluvial gold was discovered along the banks of the Bendigo Creek in 1851 and resulted in a major gold rush.

At the conclusion of the visit the Mayor Cllr Fyffe presented us with a copy of Bendigo Through Time – An Architectural Miscellany published by Holland House Publishing

Here is a page from the book showing an early painting of Bendigo Creek. The place where a family settled and whose son was a boxer they nicknamed Bendigo. The rest they say is history. Like most rivers and streams, Bendigo Creek has long been restrained in a tunnel under Charing Cross and View Point.

Bendigo Creek 1858

Bendigo’s fame reached Australia in 1850


Many thanks to Cllr Fyffe for giving us the welcome.

Thanks to us all Bendigo Creek like the story of Bendigo is still going strong.

Football and Boxing Hall of Fame unites

Nottingham Forest hero supporting our cause in Belgium

Nottingham Forest hero supporting our cause in Belgium

This week the National Football Museum Hall Of Fame are holding an event at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena. The stadium was the location of several bouts for champion boxer Carl Froch MBE during his illustrious boxing career. Usually held in Manchester this event has been specially arranged for Nottingham, currently the City of Football.

The Nottingham Forest team that won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 are to be inducted as well as Notts County, formed in 1862 and therefore the oldest football league team in the world.

Forest’s European Cup-winning goal-scorer John Robertson will also be honoured at the National Football Museum Hall Of Fame event.

Another player who will be attending the event is Colin Barrett, a full back who was playing for Manchester City reserves before Forest manager Brian Clough gave him his chance in 1976. Barrett rewarded the manager’s faith by helping Forest to win the 1977-78 First Division Championship. He also played in the European Cup but missed the final due to injury.

Nottingham Forest were drawn against the European champions Liverpool in the opening round of the European Cup. It proved to be a classic encounter. Forest won 2-0 on aggregate and then went on to win the competition.

Barrett scored a tremendous goal in the first leg against Liverpool. It is shown in this 11 minute recording from the television coverage . Barrett’s goal is shown at 10 mins 30 seconds.

Click here

Nottingham has seen many fantastic sporting moments and heroes. Football has provided many, and these inductees into the Football Hall of Fame are justified. Just as Bendigo was deserving of being inducted into the British and International Hall of Fame in 1955 and 1991 respectively.

Football like all sports has changed beyond recognition since 1862. There is no mention of Bendigo having any involvement in football but it must be highly likely that he met or even knew the players of that time.

Colin Barrett has kindly supported our campaign and has even taken his story to Ypres in Belgium. Here he is proudly wearing the shirt in Ypres Market Square. Naturally he chose the red one.

Thanks Colin!

Bendigo’s Market Place

Bendigo's Market Place

Bendigo’s Market Place

The Bendigo Memorial Fund team are pleased to announce that our polo shirts can now be purchased from the Tourism Centre in Nottingham’s Old Market Square.  Bendigo is officially becoming part of Nottingham’s rich history and the location is intrinsically linked with the Bendigo story.

He worked for a short time selling oysters here!

He grew up in the streets around here.

He later returned here as a sporting hero.

An excerpt from the newly released novel about Bendigo’s life make mention of the Market Square and Exchange Building two hundred years ago. A young Bendigo is in trouble and has some explaining to do to his parents.

“Well, it were like this. Me and Billy Gantly were playin’ cricket wi’ some o’ the lads, out in front o’ the Exchange, near where the tarts parade up and down…”

“Keep it clean,” his father warned him. “Yer mam’s listenin’, remember.”

“Aye well, anyroad, I hit this beauty what went sailin’ over a couple of stalls down the middle, and mi ball landed in that there fella’s fish stall.”

It has always been reputed that Nottingham’s Old Market Square is the largest public space in the UK after London’s Trafalgar Square. The Old Market Square was not the site of the original weekday market for Saxon Nottingham. This was at Weekday Cross but there was often friction when the Norman population from around the Castle had to come into the Saxon town. A new market was created on the site of what is now known as the Old Market Square. It was a large market of five and a half acres, functioning from the 11th century until 1928. A wall was built across the market place dividing the animal market from the grain and commercial market. It has long been speculated that the wall was built to separate the two peoples of the town, the English (Anglo-Saxons) and the French (the Normans). The position of this historic wall is now marked by a stainless steel drainage channel down the centre of the current Old Market Square.

In 1726 a building known as the ‘Exchange’ was erected. By 1815 (when Bendigo would have been four years old) it needed considerable repair and remodelling. In 1879 the Nottingham Corporation met in the Exchange for the first time thus making the Council House site the ceremonial headquarters of Nottingham. Bendigo died the following year.

In the late 1920s, the Nottingham Corporation made the decision to move the market and the 18th century Exchange building was demolished. The square was redeveloped and the Exchange building replaced by the Council House as we now know it, with its 200 foot high dome and ten and a half ton bell called Little John. The building was officially opened by the Prince of Wales (later Kind Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor on 22 May 1929.

It is still Nottingham’s most recognisable building.

Cities across the world have changed so much in the last century. Nottingham is no different. The old food markets have been replaced by fashionable shops, bars, and restaurants.

What would Bendigo have thought about a book and shirts bearing his name being sold in the old market place?

Thanks to Nottingham Hidden History for the details and to Alan Dance and David Field for the quotation from the book Bendigo – Right Fist of God

Nottingham in 1820

Nottingham in 1820

Letter Means Business.

Social Media and websites are important ways to get a message across, but a written letter still has more impact. A written letter means business!

Letters are different to messages or emails. There are more important because they take more effort and thought.

Bendigo Memorial Fund are currently writing letters to various businesses and organisations.

Last week on 23rd August, I visited the Nottingham Tourism Centre in Nottingham where I delivered a letter to them.

By chance, earlier that same day a woman had asked them about Bendigo and where his grave was. Maybe this woman had come to pay her respects on the 136th anniversary of his death. After all it is a Grade II Listed Monument!

The staff had assisted this woman find his grave, although we did discover that there are a number of different post codes where a simple change in a letter will take you to a different location.

British Listed Buildings record it as NG3 1ED

The Nottingham City Council use the name of the location as Victoria Park and St Mary’s Rest Garden Bath Street, Nottingham, NG1 1DF. Whilst this title is correct the postcode centres on the other end of Bath Street!

My preferred postcode using Google Maps is NG1 1BZ which centres on 11 Bath Street.

This might seem petty but as we have previously mentioned, the grave is not signposted, nor is it visible from the road. For me the best entrance to use is next to the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Bath Street and St Ann’s Well Road.

This made me think more about what Bendigo’s grave means to people. There have been a number of blogs that mention it too.

There is no better example of this than a letter written by a woman as part of a project by Nottingham Contemporary where artist Polly Brannan developed a piece of work that would bring women’s voices to the wider public. The result is the beautifully powerful and poignant ‘Letters To The City’.

On Sunday 7 December 2014 the general public and women from the project walked to Speakers Corner in Nottingham City centre to read each letter aloud in public to the City. Speakers Corner plays an important part in the campaigns for individual freedom and social justice and is a place for people to speak out loud, particularly for those who have had little opportunity in the past to speak or be heard so it felt like a very fitting place to read the letters.

Here is one of the letters :

Dear Bendigo

I first met you, Bendigo the Lion, when I was seven years old. I have been visiting your grave ever since. I am now forty two.

Whenever I felt sad and lonely I would talk to you about all my problems

Whenever I was with you, you gave me strength and love and safeness.

‘In life always brave, fighting like a lion…. In death like a lamb, tranquil in Zion.’

I never knew you were a bare knuckle fighter born in Sneinton in Nottingham, in 1811. You fought to take care of your family but fell into drinking and came out of that seeing the light. Becoming a tee total priest of Nottingham.

Subconsciously, Bendigo I choose you, the strongest and nicest guy of Nottingham to talk to.

Maxine x


Thanks for reading.


PS. Nottingham Speakers Corner is right next to the Brian Clough Statue!

Listed Monument and Place of Importance



Nottingham during Bendigo’s Life

William Thompson had the misfortune to have lived in the worst period possible, in terms of poverty and poor health.

Until the end of the 18th century, Nottingham was one of the most pleasant towns in England. Sited on a sandstone bluff or cliff that was south facing and close to the River Trent. The area had a rural feel and Nottingham was a prosperous market town. It did not have the smoke and pollution of towns like Birmingham or Sheffield.

By the time Bendigo was born, Nottingham’s population was five times over capacity. Whilst the industrial revolution was bringing employment; the housing had not been provided and the welfare of the working class was very basic indeed.

Nottingham was going through its worse period. Gross overcrowding, disease and social evils were prevalent.

Social unrest was inevitable. Bendigo (aged twenty) would have been aware of riots that lead to the burning down of Nottingham Castle.

The slums into which Bendigo was born remained there throughout his life. The area was cleared within a few years of his death, to make way for the Victoria Railway Station that opened on 1900.

Whilst Bendigo’s career as a prize fighter was exceptional, the sport was actually outlawed in England. This meant that records of his achievements were not reported extensively. They also occurred before photography had been developed commercially. The recording of the human voice did not become possible until after his death.

When Nottingham finally extended its boundary (from 1877) and became a city, it came too late for Bendigo and his generation. The responsibility of local government and the health provisions that we enjoy today would have been unknown to him and his peers.

Bendigo missed out on the later Victorian system of education and the provision of parks and open spaces. The only form of welfare in his time would have been provided by the church.

His fights were in rural locations. For instance, in order to travel to ‘Bendigo’s Ring’ at Bestwood, people would have used a horse drawn bus that operated from Nottingham about five times a day.

Bendigo fought and trained at the Forest Tavern on Mansfield Road near to the Goose Fair site. The area would not have been surrounded by housing, as it is now. The Inn would have been for travellers and the area would have had a rural feel to it. The area opposite was also known as Gallows Hill, a place of execution.  Prior to 1845, when a large area was used for a Church ‘Rock’ Cemetery ,there were a dozen windmills on the hill!

Nottingham’s worst period for its people.

Nottingham in 1820

Nottingham in 1820