I spend a lot of my spare time taking photographs, researching local history and getting involved with various heritage projects. Somebody suggested that I should start a blog, so here it is… I’ll be writing about the history of the Mile Cross estate, the history of Norwich and Norfolk, Norfolk Railway Heritage, Photography and anything else that takes my interestLinks to my Flickr page, my Norfolk Railway Heritage Group Facebook page and Friends of Norwich City Station pages can be found in the About section at the top of the page. This will also lead you to the blog archives.
Ever since I was just a boy I’ve been more than a little bit obsessed with an old, abandoned railway line skirting the southern edge of the Mile Cross estate between the back of Sloughbottom Park and the River Wensum. In more recent times we’ve come to know this former railway as a footpath/cycleway named the “Marriott’s Way” and if you’ve ever wondered why the footpath is named this way, read on. Continue reading “The M&GN and me – chasing ghosts to the coast.”
The other evening I did something I rarely get the chance to do these days and that was to sit in my ‘old man’ armchair with my two cats curled up on my lap and watch a bit of telly. As I scanned the Virgin box to see what I’d been recording, I found a fairly new series going by the name of the ‘Bone Detectives’ which looks into the history of people and their surroundings by analysing their bones.
The episode I had decided to watch was looking into the past of the remains of three young bodies (a male child and two young teenage girls), unearthed in Leeds whilst clearing a site to build a posh-knobby shopping centre. As it turned out, these poor little souls were victims of the Industrial revolution and had literally been worked to death, with all the evidence pointing to the likelihood that they would have been working from dawn until night in a nearby cotton mill.
Continue reading “Watching TV and curiosity leads me right back to “the cross”.”
Since writing this passionate piece about Anglia Square back at the end of 2018, I’ve spent about a year of my life involved with another Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project as a citizen researcher; delving into the history of, photographing and writing about our most infamous literal shopping corner (well four corners to be precise). The concrete-clad space-ship from the future of post-war Britain which crashed into Norwich-Over-The-Water. The not-quite-completed and misunderstood building project that people tend to either love or hate – Anglia Square:
Continue reading “Anglia Square, A Love Story”
With the 100th anniversary for the first ever council-built homes appearing in Norwich approaching quickly, along with the fact that I’ve been contacted by various people from the City Council to the national and local press to offer up my opinions, I thought I’d better type something up about this interesting and important anniversary to take a look back over the last century of social housing right here in Norwich. Before I start proper I’d better mention that some of this info has been taken from (and in some cases corrected) the centenary section on the City Council’s website, which I’ve sorted into a crude chronological order, added to, and worded in my own way; a lot of which I’ve also already written about previously during the last three years of this blog.
As I’ve touched upon – frequently – before; by the end of the First World War in 1918 there was a huge demand for housing in the cities and towns throughout Britain, the problem becoming so large that it was now an unavoidable one for the British Government. By 1919, Parliament had passed an ambitious Housing Act, or the creatively-named: “The 1919 Act” (also known as the ‘Addison Act’) which promised generous subsidies to help finance the construction of up to 500,000 houses within a three-year timescale. Continue reading “A century of council housing in the City of Norwich.”
I haven’t written anything in a while as my head’s been in a bit of a muddle, but after popping out out for an evening walk with the kids a week or so back, a few bits and pieces of an old puzzle began to form in my head. We’d ended up just over the water from Mile Cross and in a little play-park situated in the corner of quiet and secluded green space that is probably missed by the majority of Norwich as they drive on past. I was sat on a swing hidden from the last dregs of the rush-hour traffic under the suspicious gaze of the tower of St Bartholomew’s. When I say tower; I mean just the tower, as that is all that remains of this former village church; and when I say gaze, I mean that I could literally feel the eyes of the surviving grotesques staring at me from the top of the nearby tower.
Ever feel like you’re being watched?
Continue reading “Mile Cross disturbs the neighbours – Heigham.”
Just a brief entry to show that I haven’t disappeared completely. I’ve had my fingers in far too many pies of late and haven’t had time to concentrate on one thing long enough to form anything coherant enough to form one of my usual long and rambling entries.
This merging of two photographs – or ‘Ghost’ image – is of a Mary Jacobs, standing at the gate of her recently acquired Valpy Avenue home.
Back then – for reasons unknown to me – the area in which all of the houses South of Drayton Road and to the West of Havers Road were referred to as ‘The Drayton Estate’ and not Mile Cross, even though they were built by the same builders and on the same piece of purchased farmland as the rest of the estate.
It’s likely that before moving into this house Mary would have lived in one of the yards and slums around (or not too far from) the area that is now known as Anglia Square.
These new houses must have been a dream come true to former residents of the slums; they had fresh, running water; loads of space, big gardens for growing fruit and veg, indoor toilets and this particular row, a fantastic view of the Wensum Valley, complete with regular Steam engines puffing through the middle of all that scenery – a far cry from the unsanitary conditions, gloom and squalor, typical of those old and cramped yards closer to the city centre.
Mary passed away in 1938, but her family remained in this home for many years after.
Original image supplied by Mary’s Granddaughter, Susan McClarence, who informs me that her sister was born behind those very walls.
Until I can find the time to write something a little more in-depth, thanks for looking.
It was and a cold and miserable November day in Norwich during the later stages of World War Two (November the 24th, 1944). Clouds were hanging heavy and grey over Horsham St Faith’s Airfield and the European Air War had been put on hold – briefly – by this heavy cloud-cover which was stretching out far across the continent. Sitting patiently upon the airfield’s aprons were a collection of freshly-fuelled American B24 Liberators, waiting for the all-clear to head off up and into those murky skies above Norfolk. The young American airmen crammed into these large bombers must have been feeling fairly relaxed, for today they wouldn’t be putting their lives in danger by heading out across the North Sea and deep into enemy airspace; instead, they were about to take advantage of the bad weather and head off up into the low-hanging clouds above Norfolk for some much-needed low-visibility flight training.
A B24 Liberator going by the name of “Lady Jane” was one of the aircraft queuing up for the runway and today her crew was made up of a collection of young American men, all in their early twenties:
Ralph Dooley (Pilot), Arthur Akin (Co-Pilot), Paul Gorman (Navigator), Johnnie Jones (Engineer/Gunner), Oscar Nelson (Ball Turret Gunner), John Phillips (Engineer/Gunner), Don Quirk (Tail Gunner), Ralph Von Bergen (Waist Gunner) and Paul Wadsworth (Radio Operator).
Continue reading “Lady Jane”