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.”
Ever since I was just a boy I’ve been more than a little bit obsessed with an old, abandoned railway line skirting the southern edge of the Mile Cross estate between the back of Sloughbottom Park and the River Wensum. In more recent times we’ve come to know this former railway as a footpath/cycleway named the “Marriott’s Way” and if you’ve ever wondered why the footpath is named this way, read on. Continue reading “The M&GN and me – chasing ghosts to the coast.”
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?
It’s been a while since my last post but that’s because I’ve had my fingers in so many little pies that I haven’t had the chance to stop long enough to concentrate on any one thing. Anyway, before my next post about Mile Cross (yes, there is one on the way) is this post about a little Kodak Brownie 127 that was given to me on New Years Eve. I was with a lovely lady named Cecilé, who was showing me around the barn at the back of her pub, The Marlpit Arms – the barn section of which will hopefully be part of a wedding venue overlooking the nearby meadow when planning is granted – anyway, I digress. As Cecilé was showing me her grand plans for the barn, I spotted an old Kodak Brownie 127 sat on a dusty window ledge that didn’t look like it had been moved for decades. Cecilé kindly let me have the old camera and I took it home with me. On closer inspection I found that – unfortunately – there was no film inside and no mystery photos from the past for me to develop. I put it on the shelf with the rest of the camera gear and decided that I would take to Google to see if I could find some 127 film to fit it. Continue reading “Kodak Brownie 127. Sort of…”
I wrote a post a couple of months ago about how I’d dusted off the old 35mm Canon I’d found in a charity shop a few years back. The more I used it, the more it started to fail, making me realise I was beginning to waste money on a pointless venture. It costs about £20 to buy some film and get it developed and scanned, and my last attempt gave me about 6 usable pictures out of a roll of 36. Continue reading “EOS 500 35mm follow up”
As a photographer it’s easy to fall into the age-old trap of believing that all you need is the latest and most up-to-date-gear to feel happy with your work. This simply isn’t true. My two main work-horse cameras are the trusty old Canon 5D mk3 and the recently-replaced Canon 6D; both, technically, great cameras; however, having owned and used both of these cameras heavily for the last 3 years, I can’t help but feel that they both lack a photographical soul. This may be down to me being stuck in a rut, or (more likely) because I’m getting bored of the throwaway nature of modern photography: Simply being able to take thousands of digital photographs in a day and then being able to just use the best ones, or in some cases editing the best of a bad bunch into something usable, isn’t the spirit of photography. Continue reading “Retrace your footsteps”
Mile Cross. A corporation-built housing estate in Norwich that has a bit of a reputation for being a bit rough, and in some places I suppose it is – some of it falls into the “most deprived” category – as in most deprived places in the UK – but that doesn’t mean we should write it off and all move out. As with most things, there’s a lot more to it if you care to scratch the surface. Some people like myself grew up here, some people like myself moved away and then moved back here, some people are stuck here, some people were born (and will willingly die) here, remaining in the area their entire lives due to some sense of familiarity, comfort and/or family ties, and there are some people who live here out of necessity – the rent tends to be cheaper in the northern fringes of Norwich, held back by mindset that it’s all a bit rough I guess.
Anyway, Mile Cross is where I grew up. My parents moved into a house at the western end of Drayton Road in about 1980 when my father (a Glaswegian) left the armed forces. I attended the Dowson Infant and Mile Cross Middle Schools before moving on to the CNS. Hellesdon (thankfully) wouldn’t have me; presumably for being a “Crossy”, even though it is nearest school to most of the estate. Mile Cross kids are (even to this day) mostly refused entry. Turns out that’s not a bad thing, well not to my eyes at least.
In 1996 I finally got around to flying the nest and found myself housed in the ‘NR2’ area of the City Center, only a stones-throw away from the old N&N. Coming from Mile Cross you’ll be surprised to know that I wasn’t quite expecting the leap-up in exposure to anti-social behavior and crime that Norwich City center living brings. After surviving the City Lifestyle for about 7 years before I finally succumbed to the urge to move somewhere a little more peaceful. After moving around a bit my family and I decided to move back to “The Cross”, eventually buying a house about 150 meters away from the house in which I grew up and where my widowed father still lives.
Maybe I’m trapped in the estate’s invisible gravity, however, unlike some I don’t intend to live out my final years here. Whilst I am here though, I have decided to take a long, hard look at Mile Cross for what it is. This blog will help me to do that, as well as looking at few other local interests of mine and hopefully for anybody reading I’ll hold their (your) attention for more than this handful of paragraphs.
I’ll start with Suckling Avenue: The once-grand entrance to the Estate from the North:
Space wasn’t at such a premium for new housing developments during the inter-war years and it shows here. The avenue was created this way on purpose and it was purely showing off on the behalf of the Corporation’s planners.
Named after Robert Suckling, who was twice Mayor of Norwich in the late 1500’s.