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 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?
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.
In the northern corner of the estate and just behind the Boundary Pub is a quiet little cul-de-sac named Spynke Road. Like a lot of the roads up there it didn’t start off this way and used to share a junction with Boundary road. It has since been closed off to stop people rat-running through the estate and to reduce accidents along the now insanely busy Boundary Road. Because of these road closures the area now has a strangely quiet and closed-off feel but with the unrelenting background drone of of traffic. Continue reading “Lassie Come Home”
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: Continue reading “Little bits of history hiding on the shelf”
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. Continue reading “Sorbus’ final hour.”
Not one of my normal, long and rambling posts today, and not a single photograph will be harmed in the process:
One of the biggest bugbears I have about living in Mile Cross is the seeming apathy from some of the other residents towards issues that can make parts of the area appear scruffy Continue reading “Fix my street”