The Mile Cross Railwayman: “Puffing” Billy Beeston

Way back in 1928 a couple going by the names of William and Dorothy Beeston (Billy and Doll) moved into their new home right here in the middle of the Mile Cross estate. Both born in 1900 and aged 28, they’d travelled up from Suffolk to live here and the reason for their relocation across the border and into Norwich was in pursuit of a new career and a new life.

Billy had decided to move up to Mile Cross to try and make a life-long career out being a railwayman. As was the norm back then, he would have had to work incredibly hard in the pursuit of his dreams, starting at the very bottom and working his way up through the ranks, which was the only way when chasing a life on the rails. Luckily, young Billy had managed to land himself a job as an engine cleaner at Thorpe Station’s Shed 32A working for London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), which would turn out to be his first step on the long ladder towards his dreams of becoming a steam-engine driver.

MX Beeston 1aA young-looking Billy, posing on the side of an F3 2-4-2T loco, dreaming of one day becoming a driver. Continue reading “The Mile Cross Railwayman: “Puffing” Billy Beeston”

Aylsham Road. A window into the lives of a Mile Cross Family in the early 1900’s

As often happens, I stumbled upon a fascinating old photograph taken in my neck of the woods being shared on one of the many local history Facebook groups and it really caught my attention. The photograph was of a family proudly standing outside a large-looking house on Aylsham Road, not too far from the city end. Being the inquisitive sort of chap that at I am, I have often wondered about this particular area and the small collection of homes along here that once backed on to what is now Clapham Wood and the former Putty Pierce’s Lime kiln site. Continue reading “Aylsham Road. A window into the lives of a Mile Cross Family in the early 1900’s”

The Ghosts of Victoria

It’s hard to imagine that there used to be a Railway Terminus for passengers situated almost slap-bang in the very heart of our city centre, but this was the case up until 1916. At the very top of St Stephens and opposite what is now the Bus Station was the Great Eastern Railway-owned Victoria Station. It operated from this site for 67 years serving passenger links to London, but trains were to operate from here for much much longer than that. Victoria Station opened in 1849 and although the passengers stopped coming and going in 1916, the station evolved into a busy goods station enabling it to survive right up until 1966, and beyond. It actually survived even longer than that, albeit only as a coal depot and from the other side of the road where the Sainsbury’s supermarket now sits. Continue reading “The Ghosts of Victoria”

A ghost redone, redone. And a point, laboured…

I don’t normally dedicate a whole blog post to just one photograph, particularly one not taken inside Mile Cross, but this one has some history with a bit of a rant attached, and because the blurb for the original photograph on Flickr started to resemble a blog entry in itself, I thought I might as well drag it out a little for the sake of my sanity. Read on. Continue reading “A ghost redone, redone. And a point, laboured…”

A walk through old Mile Cross

Seeing as I’m stuck at home 23/7 and slowly losing my sanity due the boredom, I thought  I’d put together a little photographic tour of Mile Cross using some of the old pictures from some of the previous blog entries. Walk with me on an imaginary tour of Mile Cross, just bear in mind that you’ll need to gloss over the fact that the timeline is all over the shop and that the route is a bit nonsensical. 2020 has been a nonsensical year so far anyway, so it should be easy enough to tag along. Continue reading “A walk through old Mile Cross”

H.M.S.O. Sovereign House.

I’ve been banging on about Anglia Square for some time now, mainly because it’s been hanging in the balance for what seems like an eternity but also because the scales of its future are now about to tip one way or another – but don’t worry – I’m not going to go off on one again about it all as I’ve written more than my fair share of opinions about the development lately. This will just be a fairly simple post put together to share some (actually, a load of) fantastic images taken of the area on which Anglia Square was built as Sovereign House reached for the sky back in the late 1960’s.

These pictures were kindly provided by Reg Walker, a former H.M.S.O. employee and guardian of the HMSOldies website who I had the fortune of meeting whilst being part of a film shot inside the abandoned Sovereign House back in 2012. To me this is a brilliant collection of high-quality images that offer us a fascinating insight in to what we currently refer to as Anglia Square and I’ll add a few notes to some of the images to highlight some of the interesting details that can be spotted if you look a little closer. Continue reading “H.M.S.O. Sovereign House.”

The M&GN and me – chasing ghosts to the coast.

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.”

Watching TV and curiosity leads me right back to “the cross”.

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”.”

Anglia Square, A Love Story

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:Sov17

Continue reading “Anglia Square, A Love Story”

A century of council housing in the City of Norwich.

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 and 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.”