This is Norwich in 1971. All the views in this post were taken from the top of Normandie Tower, the tower block of council flats in Rouen Road. My Auntie Olive had just retired and had taken a flat on the ground floor. However by taking the lift you could emerge on the roof to hang out your washing – I wonder if you are allowed onto the roof today? It was a splendid way of seeing most of the city. Only to the south was the view blocked by Bracondale Hill. Today some things are familiar, but much has changed.
In the first picture you can see on the skyline the prison that had already been extended into Britannia Barracks. This appears to be much the same today from the outside at least; I have never been inside the prison and don’t really want to. In the centre of the picture is Foundry Bridge with Regal Lady, the pleasure steamer (converted to diesel) just to he rear of the Sea Cadets vessel. The Hotel Nelson is there, the new building to the left of the bridge, although it had not yet been extended. This is because Baltic Wharf is there, still full of timber which you can see in the sheds fronting the river. This is Scandinavian softwood brought over by freighters from Norway and Sweden. There are no ships in the picture, but they still regularly made their way up river from Yarmouth.
The most noticeable change is without a doubt along Riverside Road. Here the whole foreground is taken up by the goods yard, sheds and trucks of Norwich Thorpe railway station. There is a line of yellow cabs by Riverside Road. These belonged to the BR Red Star road delivery articulated lorries, and several cranes may be made out. Not only has this all gone to be replaced by flats, a cinema and bars, but the freight traffic which once used the rails into Norwich has vanished as well. You can see the dome of the passenger hall to the right of the picture. Curving along the river is Riverside Road, and just to the bottom right of the picture are the roofs of Boulton and Paul’s factory. This too has gone, to be replaced by Morrison’s supermarket and other shops. Norwich’s latest swimming pool straddles the former road.
Moving round towards centre of the city we have a view of the cathedral. In the foreground is King Street. You can see the roof of the Old Barge (yet to reveal its ancient dragon or be renamed Dragon Hall) and the industrial complex with the black superstructure (adjacent to the Old Barge Inn, then only recently closed) and factory chimney belong to Norwich Brewery. This belonged to Watney Mann and was newly built on the Morgan’s brewery site. It was then still producing beer and regularly filled the city with the smell of malt and hops. To the far right you can see the blue hopper and orange trucks of the Ready-Mix concrete depot. Both these first two pictures show a much more industrial city than exists today, over forty years later. There is now no major manufacturing done within the city centre, and precious little on the outskirts either.
The last view takes us from St Giles church of the left to St Peter Parmentergate on the right, taking in St Peter Mancroft, the City Hall and the Castle Museum. This view looks along Rouen Road which was very much a work in progress. The press office of Eastern Counties Newspapers (now Archant) is the big white building in the centre. Before it was built at three storied building housing Wick’s pet shop stood there. I believe it was on the corner of Golden Ball Street, a named remembered in the sculpture of a golden ball outside Archant House. Rouen Street replaced a warren of buildings down the hill toward King Street. They were condemned as slums but many of the quaint properties could have been restored. After all Elm Hill was only saved from demolition by one vote in the City Council.
St Julian’s (the Norwich branch of the Anglican All Hallows’ Convent from Ditchingham) stands there by the road, the pale brick building seen gable on, but everything else is either still building or not yet begun. Beyond, where Rouen Road meets Cattle Market Street you can just make out the old cattle market, by 1971 a car park which it remained until the building of the Castle Mall.
MEMORIES OF THE COUNTY OF NORFOLK