This is just a short entry to let you all know that I am still here. I realise that it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything (for this website at least) but that doesn’t mean I’m no longer involved or engaged. Over the last few months I’ve been spread quite thin with various Mile Cross related projects; I’ve written a piece about the trees here in Mile Cross for the Norfolk Gardens Trust Magazine (downloadable here soon), I’ve been writing pieces for the new Mile Cross Newsletter, “mileXchange”, which hopefully you read after it dropped through your letterbox recently (if you live in Mile Cross, that is), the second issue should follow shortly. I’ve also been helping to come up with ideas on how to use the soon-to-open community space named the “mileXchange” in the former Draytona Bakery shop on Drayton Road. On top of all that, I’ve also spent a considerable amount of my spare time as one of the lead researchers for the “Mile Cross 100” project which in 2023 will celebrate the Mile Cross estate turning one hundred years of age.
We aim to celebrate a Centenary of Mile Cross by creating a play, a pageant, a website and a book about Mile Cross, so there will be lots to look forward to in the next few months, some of which we’re hoping residents or former residents of Mile Cross can get involved with.
It seems like ages ago now that I was having a chat with one of my neighbours over my garden gate about the rather unique design of the particular style of houses that we live in on our Street and the subtle little differences in their designs and layouts. My particular house is one of the semi-detached, non-parlour, cottage-style, three bedroom houses that can only be found dotted around the Drayton Estate part of Mile Cross. To look at it from the outside it looks as though it’s exactly the same design as some of the three bed houses built along Bignold Road in longer terraces but it is fundamentally different in one major aspect, the Toilet.
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.
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”→
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”→
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…”→
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.”→
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.
After having a lot of fun with my charity shop EOS500 and then retrofitting 35mm film into an old Kodak Brownie I decided it was time to buy myself a ‘proper’ film camera, a medium format camera that took 120 film. I decided to take the plunge and sell my backup SLR (Canon 6D) and replace it with a plastic and metal box from the 1970’s or 1980’s and a high-end Epson flatbed scanner with which to scan my negatives.