M&GN Hellesdon Station, Closed and then reopened. Sort of.

Seeing as I’d previously written three separate posts about Hellesdon Station in various states of its transformation and that I kept spotting parts of this multi-part story being shared about the world wide web, I thought it would make sense to amalgamate them all into one blog post to tell the whole story of this fascinating, lost Railway Station:

Tucked just out sight and not too far from my Mile Cross home is a little corner of Norfolk that I’ve always had a real soft spot for: Hellesdon Station.

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Continue reading “M&GN Hellesdon Station, Closed and then reopened. Sort of.”

Hellesdon Station Part 3

Having written Hellesdon Station Parts 1 and 2 I thought I’d pretty much written all I could about this long-forgotten railway station, hidden away in a quiet little corner of old Hellesdon. I was wrong. Not long after hitting ‘submit’ and setting ‘Hellesdon Station Part 2’ free and into the wilderness of the world-wide interwebs, I was contacted by a lady who it seems was very glad to have found somebody else with a keen interest in this little part of very localised History. Continue reading “Hellesdon Station Part 3”

Video interlude

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:

Continue reading “Video interlude”

Lassie Come Home

AZON_Orig Lassie Come Home_WILLIAM CASEIn 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”

Green to mud or bricks

Green bits. The Estate was built with open space in mind. If you wander around the estate you’ll notice the big verges with tree-lined vistas, you’ll notice that most of the homes have been blessed with large gardens, you’ll also spot quite a few large, open greens. Some of the greens you may be familiar with were purposefully made as features of the Estate during its ‘Garden suburb’ inspired construction. Most of the open greens have survived the near 100-year life of the estate and remain in place, although not always given the attention or funding they deserve:

The brace of parks (mentioned in this previous blog entry) at Losinga Crescent on the Northern (and once-grand) entrance to the estate have survived mostly intact, although they are currently in a dire state.

The fairly pleasant green in the middle of Civic Gardens is still a prominent feature and it still retains most of its charm.MXG13 Continue reading “Green to mud or bricks”

Windmills

Back in the late 1800’s there were four windmills in the area of Mile Cross, two situated on the Eastern side of Aylsham Road (Catton) and two on the western side actually within the boundaries of Mile Cross, and it’s these two Mills that I shall be focussing on in the piece. The northernmost of these two Mile Cross Mills would have stood just behind the old Parsonage (the beautiful 3-storey Georgian Houses stood opposite the Windmill Pub) and it was owned by a Philip Rose, Miller and Baker.
4865556400_63344d57e0_o Continue reading “Windmills”

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”