I recently stumbled across three fascinating images taken along the section of Drayton Road stretching from the Lidl roundabout to the junction at Asda. I’ve covered Drayton road fairly comprehensively over the course of this blog and those stories can be found below (all worth a read if you haven’t already):
So in this short entry I’m just going to share the images in question and go into a little bit of detail about what we’re looking at one by one.
I’ll start off with this fascinating image kindly provided by Don Thorpe:
The image is one of a collection taken at the time by the Norwich Corporation’s (Norwich City Council) official photographer and if you look closely it reveals a lot of detail. It’s a collection of steam-powered road maintenance vehicles under the jurisdiction of City Engineer, JS Bullough. A chap instrumental in the creation of the Mile Cross Estate. Here we can see those vehicles and their crew parked up for this posed photograph at the site where the speed camera now lives. At a guess, I’d date the photograph as either being the Summer of 1929 or the Spring of 1930. The Parade of shops (completed in 1929) can just be made out on the right hand side of the photograph, the gardens of the houses looking South have yet to mature, the pointing between the bricks is looking particularly bright and fresh and the Lime trees planted along either side of Drayton Road appear to be little more than freshly-planted saplings. The two biggest giveaways to the date of the image are the lack of the two later-added 1930’s houses next to the shops and that the pair of decorative gardens opposite the entrance to Wheeler Road (seen in the foreground) don’t yet appear to be finished. Another clue is that Drayton Road is probably being ‘metaled’ for the first time since the builders had cleared away the heavy building machinery and moved on to another part of the city (most likely the Colman Road area).
I love this image, I drive through it three or four times a day, I was helped across the road here – daily – by the crossing ladies on my way to and from school and I also remember its tragic past. It feels so familiar and it’s hard to comprehend that it hasn’t really changed a great deal in the best part of a Century, unlike the rest of the world.
Next up is this image of the nearby Parade of shops, most likely taken by the same photographer: It shows the western-most side of the rather grand-looking Parade of shops at tjat is rather unflatteringly referred to these days as the ‘Lidl Roundabout’. As you can see in this photograph the junction with Drayton Road and Mile Cross Road was originally a crossroads. The roundabout was installed later as a safety measure after a series of fatalities that I suspect were down to the topography of the junction. Wherever you get a cross roads at the bottom of a hill, you’ll always get accidents, just take a look at the bottom of Grapes Hill for example…
The ‘KEEP LEFT’ sign sat in the middle of the junction is a nice touch. Painted with red and white stripes and topped off with a flashing red beacon to warn drivers at night that they were approaching a potentially dangerous set of crossroads. Sadly, this didn’t stop the fatalities from happening and in one instance a young lad on his way home from school during his lunch-time break crashed into it on his bicycle and subsequently died of his injuries. This stretch of road seems to have claimed far too many lives over the years. The crossing finally made way for the roundabout we all know and ‘love’ today at some point during the 1950’s.
It’s another great image and I particularly love the period car sat outside what was then (and up until the 1980’s) a Butchers, I also love how all the local kids have lined up by the fence to pose for the photographer; no doubt a rare site back in those days. How times have changed. I recently stood – armed with my DSLR – in a similar position to that of the original photographer and whilst trying take a similar image to that of the above I was beeped at three times, and called a “Wanker!” by two tracksuit-wearing scrotes driving past in a battered-looking Mk4 Astra (no shock there) that most likely had no insurance or MOT.
Again, apart from the lack of the modern roundabout (and about 300 cars), the image doesn’t look too dissimilar to how it does to this day; although I wouldn’t recommend parking outside the shops on this particular side of the parade. 9 out of 10 times you’ll end up being blocked in by some selfish prick. Don’t get me wrong, I regularly visit the ‘Lucky Fish Bar’ (second shop in from the left), which self-respecting Miley doesn’t? But now I’ll either walk there or park up outside the shops on the opposite side of Mile Cross Road. The shops are beginning to look a little tired now but some of them still retain the original font and paint scheme (White Clarendon on dark blue) on their name boards along with their decorative wooden roses.
Moving on to the last picture:
This picture, supplied by Shelley Edwards, is taken from almost the same spot as the first picture featured above, only looking in the other direction towards the junction of Bignold and Parr Road. You can see by the trees that this picture was taken some time later than the one with those road-laying gents and their steam-powered machinery. The real clue to the age of this photograph is what I can only assume is the ARP surface-shelter sat on the opposite side of the road and by the northernmost end of the now completed (but rather over-grown-looking) decorative gardens. This tells me that this picture was taken in either in the early 1940’s or most likely just after the War. I’m sure I read somewhere that these shelters had stripes painted on the sides to help people find them in a hurry the dark; however, these seem to be absent from the sides of the probable shelter this photograph. Either way, the tree-heights tie in nicely with some other 1940’s pictures I’ve seen taken along Drayton Road so I’m not too far out either way.
Again, this image hasn’t changed a great deal over the years; admittedly there is NO traffic apart from the two cyclists heading North-West towards Parr Road and the verges look in pristine condition compared to how they are today, but you can see the beginnings of the verge-parking problem that is currently destroying the aesthetics of the green parts of the Estate today. A car is parked by one of the trees about 50 meters beyond the Air Raid Shelter. If only they knew what they had started! On a selfish note I just wish the photographer would have wandered a couple of hundred meters further up and taken a picture looking towards the Galley Hill Pub which in turn would have had my family home in the shot. Still you can’t have everything.
Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed these three photographs as much as I have and thanks for reading.