Moving North along Bignold Road will find you following in the footsteps (or tyre tracks) of the first builders onto the estate. Bignold road heads it’s way north from Drayton Road until it reaches the horseshoe shape that is Appleyard Crescent; which has become 0.7% more infamous since the resurgence of the Star Wars series of films (more on that later in the series).
Mile Cross. A corporation-built housing estate in Norwich that has a bit of a reputation for being a bit rough, and in some places I suppose it is – some of it falls into the “most deprived” category – as in most deprived places in the UK – but that doesn’t mean we should write it off and all move out. As with most things, there’s a lot more to it if you care to scratch the surface. Some people like myself grew up here, some people like myself moved away and then moved back here, some people are stuck here, some people were born (and will willingly die) here, remaining in the area their entire lives due to some sense of familiarity, comfort and/or family ties, and there are some people who live here out of necessity – the rent tends to be cheaper in the northern fringes of Norwich, held back by mindset that it’s all a bit rough I guess.
Anyway, Mile Cross is where I grew up. My parents moved into a house at the western end of Drayton Road in about 1980 when my father (a Glaswegian) left the armed forces. I attended the Dowson Infant and Mile Cross Middle Schools before moving on to the CNS. Hellesdon (thankfully) wouldn’t have me; presumably for being a “Crossy”, even though it is nearest school to most of the estate. Mile Cross kids are (even to this day) mostly refused entry. Turns out that’s not a bad thing, well not to my eyes at least.
In 1996 I finally got around to flying the nest and found myself housed in the ‘NR2’ area of the City Center, only a stones-throw away from the old N&N. Coming from Mile Cross you’ll be surprised to know that I wasn’t quite expecting the leap-up in exposure to anti-social behavior and crime that Norwich City center living brings. After surviving the City Lifestyle for about 7 years before I finally succumbed to the urge to move somewhere a little more peaceful. After moving around a bit my family and I decided to move back to “The Cross”, eventually buying a house about 150 meters away from the house in which I grew up and where my widowed father still lives.
Maybe I’m trapped in the estate’s invisible gravity, however, unlike some I don’t intend to live out my final years here. Whilst I am here though, I have decided to take a long, hard look at Mile Cross for what it is. This blog will help me to do that, as well as looking at few other local interests of mine and hopefully for anybody reading I’ll hold their (your) attention for more than this handful of paragraphs.
I’ll start with Suckling Avenue: The once-grand entrance to the Estate from the North:
Space wasn’t at such a premium for new housing developments during the inter-war years and it shows here. The avenue was created this way on purpose and it was purely showing off on the behalf of the Corporation’s planners.
Named after Robert Suckling, who was twice Mayor of Norwich in the late 1500’s.
I spend a lot of my spare time taking photographs, researching local history and getting involved with various heritage projects. Somebody suggested that I should start a blog, so here it is… I’ll be writing about the history of the Mile Cross estate, the history of Norwich and Norfolk, Norfolk Railway Heritage, Photography and anything else that takes my interest.Links to my Flickr page, my Norfolk Railway Heritage Group Facebook page and Friends of Norwich City Station pages can be found over to the left along with a search bar to look for anything in particular. If you have any queries, please get in touch using the contact link.