Built in 1928 this parade of shops was built either side of Mile Cross Road at its cross roads with Drayton Road to serve the locals with all their retail needs without having to walk all the way into the City. These shops would have served most of the estate and would have had a Butchers, Greengrocers, Newsagent, Tobacconist, Bakery, Fishmongers, Florist, Doctor’s Surgery, Cafe… just as it did right up until the likes of Asda showed up in the 1980’s. The nearest shops would have been within the walls of the City center and across the river and seeing as the estate was built in the mid-twenties and right into the middle of a great financial depression, these must have been where most of the locals would have done most, if not all of their shopping.
The arrival of the Supermarkets, including a raft of Lidl’s and Aldi’s on its doorstep should have sealed the Parade’s fate. It hasn’t – yet – and the parade continues to survive and adapt. Additions like the Bookmakers are an unwelcome recent arrival, but the rents continue to come in and the parade remains busy and in use.
The roundabout was a later addition, added between 1938 and 1955 and after a spate of fatal collisions (a continuing theme along this stretch of road). One incident involved a poor lad who lost his life in a collision with the lamp post right in the middle of the cross roads whilst cycling home from School at lunch down Mile Cross Road.
These shops may also look familiar to anybody from the Colman Road area of the City (see below) and that is because they are of the same design, (and up until recently) right down to the Clarendon font used to advertise the business names, decorative concrete roses and brickwork detailing. For some reason they remind me the wooden warships seen in the 1500’s. All they need are some sails and they’d be ready to take to the seas and do battle with the Spaniards! Anyway, sailing swiftly on…
Many of building designs employed by the Norwich Corporation during the construction of Mile Cross were recycled and put to use on some of the estates that popped shortly after. The Colman Road area has a heavy dose of the Mile Cross architecture, as does parts of Lakenham. The Library on Colman Road is also a carbon copy of the Mile Cross Library situated on Aylsham Road.
Have a look the next to you’re travelling down Colman Road and you’ll see what I mean.
Thanks for reading,