Up until the 1960’s when Mile Cross began to grow in a north-westerly direction, this area; now a play park well-known amongst the Mile Cross kids (and former kids) for its really, really, really long slide (it seemed huge as a child) – was known locally as ‘Fungi’s pit’.
As far as I can work out ‘Old Fungi’ was a Pig Farmer of sorts named ‘Mr Prentice’ who owned most of a long and thin strip of land running along this side of Boundary Road. I’ve heard all sorts of interesting stories about this mystery fellow (not all of them nice) from some of the older locals I’ve spoken to over the years – but – unfortunately I can’t find anything written down about him that can help me back any of it up. If anybody can recall this mystery fellow and help me to fill in some of the gaps (more pit-like than gaps – see what I did there? Taxi!), I’d love to hear from you. My email address can be found in the contacts section.
What isn’t in doubt is the fact that this area was a small farm and this part was a pit. A bit of map work shows that this area began its life as a sand, chalk, brick or gravel pit and can be traced back as far back as the late 1800’s. Quite a few of these pits can be found dotted around this part of Hellesdon all consumed as Norwich started to bulge over it’s own waistline and into the surrounding fields. In time the pit slowly evolved from a just a pit with a puddle into an increasingly-growing pond, up until the 1960’s when it was filled in to build this park and (if my memory serves me right) a cinder BMX track. The rest of the pig farm was taken over by those odd-looking, flat-roofed houses that started to appear all over the Norwich estates during the 1960’s. One can only assume that old Fungi got bored of chasing the local kids off his land and either sold up or shuffled off this mortal coil.
The pit can still be made out in the topography of the park, the deepest part of which would have been where the sandy play area now sits to the right of center of my photo.
Thanks for reading,