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.
A 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” →
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” →
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” →
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”.” →
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.” →
I haven’t written anything in a while as my head’s been in a bit of a muddle, but after popping out out for an evening walk with the kids a week or so back, a few bits and pieces of an old puzzle began to form in my head. We’d ended up just over the water from Mile Cross and in a little play-park situated in the corner of quiet and secluded green space that is probably missed by the majority of Norwich as they drive on past. I was sat on a swing hidden from the last dregs of the rush-hour traffic under the suspicious gaze of the tower of St Bartholomew’s. When I say tower; I mean just the tower, as that is all that remains of this former village church; and when I say gaze, I mean that I could literally feel the eyes of the surviving grotesques staring at me from the top of the nearby tower.
Ever feel like you’re being watched?
Continue reading “Mile Cross disturbs the neighbours – Heigham.” →
Just a brief entry to show that I haven’t disappeared completely. I’ve had my fingers in far too many pies of late and haven’t had time to concentrate on one thing long enough to form anything coherant enough to form one of my usual long and rambling entries.
This merging of two photographs – or ‘Ghost’ image – is of a Mary Jacobs, standing at the gate of her recently acquired Valpy Avenue home.
Back then – for reasons unknown to me – the area in which all of the houses South of Drayton Road and to the West of Havers Road were referred to as ‘The Drayton Estate’ and not Mile Cross, even though they were built by the same builders and on the same piece of purchased farmland as the rest of the estate.
It’s likely that before moving into this house Mary would have lived in one of the yards and slums around (or not too far from) the area that is now known as Anglia Square.
These new houses must have been a dream come true to former residents of the slums; they had fresh, running water; loads of space, big gardens for growing fruit and veg, indoor toilets and this particular row, a fantastic view of the Wensum Valley, complete with regular Steam engines puffing through the middle of all that scenery – a far cry from the unsanitary conditions, gloom and squalor, typical of those old and cramped yards closer to the city centre.
Mary passed away in 1938, but her family remained in this home for many years after.
Original image supplied by Mary’s Granddaughter, Susan McClarence, who informs me that her sister was born behind those very walls.
Until I can find the time to write something a little more in-depth, thanks for looking.
Wensum Park is a unique park for Norwich and is (and has always been) well loved by the generations of Mile Cross inhabitants.
Continue reading “Wensum Park” →
Living on the edge… of the Countryside, that is.
This is just a short entry to share a few images I stumbled across over the last couple of years. Taken during the 40’s, 50’s and 70’s these images serve to show us fascinating glimpses of living in Mile Cross when it was still connected directly to the countryside. Continue reading “Living on the edge. Updated 2020.” →
The Mile Cross Estate has some very interesting road names from a historical point of view so I thought I’d take a closer look at the history behind those battered old nameplates to try to ascertain what all those names mean and why. As it turns out most of the road names read to be a veritable “who’s who” of famous Norwich Citizens, albeit from an early 20th Century viewpoint and with a few Paston Family related place-names thrown in to the mix. I decided to take a look at most of the road names in what I call the ‘original’ part of Mile Cross as a Corporation-built Estate along with a few just outside of those now imaginary boundaries. The following list is what I have managed to come up with. Some of them were fairly obvious and easy to research but some were a little harder to figure out. I’ve tried my best to be as accurate as possible when it came to the naming conventions being applied in the early 1920’s but even if I haven’t necessarily found the correct person for the name-plate, the historical points made below are still legitimate and hopefully make for some interesting little glimpses into the past of our fine City:
Appleyard Crescent – William Appleyard was 3 times sheriff and 5 times City Mayor. William was the first Mayor of the City after it became a shire incorporate in 1404. He owned a lot of property in the City and Inherited from his father the house that now incorporates the Bridewell Museum, famed for it’s finely-cut black flint bricks. William presented the City with a great tree to aid with building the new Guildhall. He also owned a lot of land to the South of the City, including Intwood, Bracon Ash and Hethel.
His father was given the rather odd responsibility of providing the King with 224 Herring Pasties whenever he visited the region.
Continue reading “What’s in a road name?” →