Chalk and Putty

Our beloved Mile Cross is sat on a bedrock of chalk, and on top of this chalk sits the deposits of gravels and clay left behind when the Ice sheets receded during the last Ice age. For millennia after the Ice sheets retreated northwards from where they came, the Wensum has been hard at work, slowly stripping back those layers as it snakes its way back and forth across the landscape, digging out what is now the Wensum Valley and helping to define the topography of the Estate we are familiar with now.

As it does so it exposes the chalk bedrock making it easier for the many generations of humans to excavate:Putty9 Continue reading “Chalk and Putty”

SSSI

It might be a surprise to some to know that Mile Cross has its own little Nature reserve, comparable to the likes of Marston Marshes to the South of the City, only far more interesting and relatively unheard of.

As the River Wensum slowly winds it way through the Norfolk Countryside on its journey from its source out near Whissonsett to its confluence with the Yare in Whitlingham, it moistens the Southern boundary of Mile Cross as it glides silently by. MxMarsh6 Continue reading “SSSI”

I’m ‘Council’ and I’m also a human being.

When some people hear the phrase “Council Estate” they tend to form an image or opinion in their head. Often that image or those opinions can be slightly misguided. Read on…

The state of housing in the late Victorian era was becoming increasingly more dire as the century went on, partly because various initiatives to improve housing and sanitation had failed and partly because of a massive population explosion taking place in all of the major cities across the United Kingdom, further adding to the problem and ironically being the main reason that most of those initiatives were failing in the first place. The population of Norwich had more than doubled between 1801 and 1851 and this was leading to an increasingly severe shortage of housing and local amenities. Only the privileged tended to own their own homes whilst the rest of the working classes were left to put up with increasingly-expensive private rents whilst being restricted to the cramped and unsanitary conditions of the yards and terraces that were emerging all over Norwich as a by-product of the 19th century.

The housing and it’s associated welfare issues were becoming too large to ignore and It was time for change.

The Public Health act (which went by the rather catchy title: An act for consolidating and amending the Acts relating to Public Health in England ) was finally published in 1875 and in a nutshell it stated that state-owned housing needed to be built and that this housing needed to be built to a high standard; with running water, toilets and bathrooms, good light, plenty of space and with good local amenities.

One of the drawings from the Mile Cross plan:Mile Cross Vision

Continue reading “I’m ‘Council’ and I’m also a human being.”

Little bits of history hiding on the shelf

In most households up and down this funny old country are lots of little hints of local history caught on film. Most people have a collection of old photographs from their or their family’s past, either sat on the bookshelf or hidden in a dusty box in that dark corner of the attic. More often than not, people often think that these little collections of windows into the past are of no real interest to strangers; after all, who wants to see that grainy photograph of Great Uncle Bob stood next to a tree? To the casual observer, that photograph of Great Uncle Bob in the 50’s is just that: a photograph of Great Uncle Bob. To somebody who doesn’t know Uncle Bob, these pictures can still reveal a lot, especially if you know where and when the picture was taken. A lot of hidden gems can be hiding in the backgrounds of some of these old photographs, especially if they were taken outside. If the shot is wide enough they can act as a handy little window into the area (and era) in which the photograph was taken. Photography wasn’t as easily accessible back then as it is today so people only tended to take pictures of things that they thought were important, mainly involving loved ones or important events. I love these old photos and am always on the look out for these taken in my sphere of interest: Norwich, Norfolk and Mile Cross.

A lady I work with has been following my blog since the beginning along with her husband, Stuart, who also happens to be an old ‘Miley’. Stuart grew up on the estate during the 50’s and 60’s. When I inquired (as I often do) into whether he had any old photos of his childhood on the estate, the response was that  there were a few but probably not of any real interest. I asked if I could see them anyway and he kindly agreed. The next day Margaret brought in a handful of tiny photographs and I went through them like an excited School kid. Did they reveal anything interesting in the background? Let’s take a look at what I found…

First up is this image of Stuart’s father taken on a bright winter’s day back in 1955:Asda junction 1955small Continue reading “Little bits of history hiding on the shelf”

The Boundary

Boundary Road 2017When you’re sat in one of the 5 lanes of traffic crawling along Boundary Road at a snail’s pace it’s hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago this now-vital traffic artery was little more than a rural path; a single-tracked sandy lane, rather conveniently named: ‘Sandy Lane’ up until the early 1900’s, before being renamed as the ‘Boundary Road’ we all know and ‘love’ today. Continue reading “The Boundary”

Nigel Neale

I must admit that I’ve talked quite a lot about Drayton Road in this blog, mainly because it has a lot of stories to tell and partly because I’ve lived on (or just off) it for all bar seven years of my life. This is the main artery for traffic in and out of the City from the North-West and effectively chops about a third of the estate off along the southern portion. Located in the Island part of the estate from the estate’s creation and up until about ten years ago sat the majority of the estate’s schools (Dowson First and Mile Cross Middle), so getting the kids across Drayton road safely required a lot of work from the two sets of dedicated Lollipop ladies.

The first set operated at the crossroads of the Drayton, Bignold and Parr Roads and the second set a few hundred meters down the road at the (long-since closed) junction of Drayton and Wheeler Road. In the early to mid 1980’s, both sets of ladies witnessed their fair share of drama and tragedy.

Two incidents stand out amongst the madness that was – and still is – getting across Drayton Road as a child and I’ll start with the later incident first:

In the mid-1980’s a driver claiming to be unsighted by the low morning sun as he came up Drayton Road from North West ploughed straight through a crowd of Mile Cross Middle and Dowson School children being shepherded across the road by the crossing lady. How nobody was killed is beyond me; one boy ended up near the bus stop, the boy walking just in front of me was thrown 20 feet into the air…. blood, chunks of hair, scattered books and Panini stickers littered the scene.

The result was this pelican crossing, installed slightly east of the junction: MXspeed3 Continue reading “Nigel Neale”

Sorbus’ final hour.

When the finishing touches were being applied to the estate back in the late 1920’s, tree planting was an important aspect of the ‘Garden City’ design and layout. A mixture of trees were used, and their size depended on the hierarchy of the roads they were to be planted on. The two main arteries: Aylsham Road and Drayton Road were lined with Horse Chestnut and Lime and the smaller roads were lined with smaller species such as the Sorbus shown in these pictures.MXsorb3 Continue reading “Sorbus’ final hour.”