In 1958 Norwich City Council decided it would be a good idea to move their entire labour force to a brand new and centralised depot named The “Norwich City Works Department”. The new depot was to be located Just off Mile Cross Road, opposite Harmers Clothing Factory and the junction of Havers Road and it was to be built on 6.5 acres of former allotments and farmland situated in the fairly wide depression here at the bottom of the Wensum Valley.
The new depot officially opened its gates to its workforce in 1965, although most of the workers would have already being there for some time already, considering it was their job to construct their new premises. The marshy ground of the valley floor had been being steadily firmed-up since the Second World War when the area had was increasingly being used as a dumping ground for landfill and hard-core, most of being transferred here from the destroyed buildings of the nearby bomb sites around the St Benedict’s and Dereham Road area.
You can see it slowly taking over the allotment space as it’s being flattened out by a Corporation Steam Roller in this 1948 Britain From Above image of the area:
Just a quick entry to share a few heritage-related videos I’ve been involved with over the last few years that you lot might be interested in watching. None of them are about Mile Cross, but they’re not too far off. One covers the old M&GN railway from Norwich City and Hellesdon through to Melton Constable, one is about Sovereign House and Her Majesty’s Stationary Office and the third one is filmed a little further out, covering the former railways around Cromer.
All written and produced by my good friend Chris Richmond as part of his “Norfolk Uncovered” Youtube series and mostly starring the brilliant Mile Cross lad, John Batley (another good friend); I can also be spotted nervously mumbling away in a few of them – As it turns out, I’m not designed to be filmed or photographed!
Anyway, grab yourself a cuppa and a biscuit (beer and wine are also probably available; check your fridge for availability) and enjoy!
The first up is this 22 minute offering following us as we head off up the old M&GN system, starting at the remains of City Station. Take note of how overgrown Hellesdon was looking back then, almost 5 years ago:
If you think of the original Mile Cross Estate as a triangle with the Southern point being where the Aylsham and Drayton Roads head off in separate directions towards their namesakes, the other two points of the estate triangle sit at either end of the aptly-named Boundary Road as the two roads leave the city and head off out into Norfolk.
Here the City and County of Norwich becomes (or became) the County of Norfolk.
County of Norwich? Yep, Norwich was still technically a County, even as recently as 1974. Back in 1404 the City of Norwich was made into a seperate County (or a County Corporate) and it became independent from its host County of Norfolk. Like a lot of the rapidly-growing towns and Cities, Norwich was deemed important enough to become independent from its county, which (amongst other things) gave it a few extra privileges with regards to self-government that a City wouldn’t normally recieve. Norwich was rapidly becoming England’s 2nd most important City only being out-ranked by London. In interesting point to add here is that the City of Norwich – inside the walls – was actually larger than the City of London.
The City (now County) of Norwich had its own Lord-Lieutenant, appointed by the Crown who was responsible for controlling the Norwich militia up until the right to call on able-bodied men to fight was revoked only as recently as 1921. Norwich still has a Lord Lieutenant, appointed by the Queen as her representative for the county but this role (like that of the Sherriff) only exists in a ceremonial capacity. The County of Norwich was allowed to appoint itself two sheriffs for over 400 years, however this was reduced to just one after the Municipal Corporations act of 1835 and even then only in a ceremonial capacity.
The County’s current Lord-Lieutenant is a Richard Jewson and the city’s current Sherriff is a David Walker and Norwich remained a County (in the ceremonial sense) right up until 1974 when it was taken back under the jurisdiction of the County of Norfolk. Back to Mile Cross…
The Faden’s map of 1797 has “Mile Cross” written onto it, covering the area around Aylsham Road just south of the Boundary and across the road into what is now Catton. For the life of me I still can’t find out why this area was referred to as Mile Cross, or if it was linked in anyway to the pair of 15th Century Boundary crosses currently bookending Boundary Road. Presumably there would have been many more of these crosses encircling the city (I read somewhere that were as many as 10 at one point) and the only other cross still surviving from this period lives about 800 meteres away from Asda, hidden in the graveyard of St Mary’s church in Hellesdon, on the other side of the soon to be ex-golf course.
I’ve talked briefly about the Galley Hills pub previously in my Pubs, Pubs, Pubs entry but this time I’m going to write a piece solely dedicated to this beautiful old pub, mainly because I grew up in the shadow of it, partly because my mother worked there for a while and also because I just love the look of the old place.
I’ve already mentioned the Second World War a few times on this blog and it’s hardly surprising; the Estate was built as a by-product of the First World War and before the freshly-planted trees and gardens had even had a chance to mature, the clouds of war were bubbling up once again, and It wouldn’t be too long before their shadows began to fall across the estate once more.Continue reading “When the bombs fell”
Just a short entry tonight after I spotted something of interest as I was dropping off some donations to the Hallswood Animal sanctuary Charity Shop on Drayton Road. On the wall opposite the entrance and next to one of the residential doors is a concentration of ‘graffiti’. On closer inspection some of the inscriptions are quite old. Admittedly they’re not going to get any of the medieval graffiti experts too excited but the shops were only built in 1929. After a quick zoom in on Photoshop this small section of wall revealed quite a few initials and dates:Continue reading “Bloody vandals”
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.
You may have read the last blog entry about a tragic accident that happened on the estate towards the end of the Second World War. A Consolidated B-24 Liberator of the USAAF crashed on its final approach to the Horsham St Faith Airbase killing 8 of its 9 crew, two young children and changing the lives of their friends and family forever. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend that you do so first before reading this entry and that blog entry can be found by clicking this link.
After sharing the story on Social Media I was rather taken aback by the positive response it received and it has probably been the most-read (and commented) post of this blog so far.
One of the many people who commented on Social Media was a ‘Dick Kemp’. Dick (Richard) Kemp was the young lad whose garden the plane came down onto and it was his sister and cousin who were killed along with the American Airmen. Shortly after commenting on the post Dick sent me an email asking if I’d forward him the story so that he could share it with his extended family. Of course I obliged and emailed it over. It was another one of those fantastic moments where somebody who I’ve been researching or photographing the history of has appeared to me in person, just like when David Jackson appeared at one of my exhibitions a few years ago. Whilst I had this fine Gentleman’s attention I thought I’d chance my arm and ask him if he’d mind sharing his thoughts and memories on the incident.Continue reading “Dick’s Story: Lassie Come Home.”