How do you write a piece about a man you’ve never actually seen a photograph of but know so much detail about? It’s quite hard and this is why I love historical photography, particularly photographs of people. If the subject is looking at the camera you can see into their eyes. Even if they’re no longer with us you can almost get a sense for the soul lurking behind those eyes looking back at you across the years. Unfortunately I can’t make this particular connection with the man I’m about to talk about and it troubles me a little.
Albert Bayes came into this world on the 13th May 1890 at 4 Kensington Place, Lakenham and the life that was mapped out before this particular Lakenham boy was going to be something of a rollercoaster, which I’m going to delve into shortly; but as is often the case when I look into the history of people, I get side-tracked and stumble across hidden little corners of Norwich I’d never considered and this is the case here. The Kensington Place in which Albert was born only really survives in name these days as the tightly-packed double-row of houses, accessed by a small entrance off Queens Road have been swept away for some 1960’s un-improvements. However, the original entrance alleyway still survives along with the only real clue to it’s former use in an old yard-style name-plate, but it’s a blink and you’ll miss it affair as it’s so tiny.
It’s interesting to think that this tight little alleyway was once the main entrance to so many houses on a piece of land sandwiched between City Road, Hall Road and Queens Road and only a stones-throw from St Mark’s Church where a young Albert would have been christened. Unlike the cramped yards of the era, these houses looked as though they had a little bit of outside space, both front and rear and a chance at some good amounts of daylight once you’d entered through the tiny alleyway. As I stood in that tiny, little conduit taking the photograph below I could almost feel the ghosts of young Albert and the rest of his family brushing by as they made their way in an out of their home over a century previously.
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”→
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.
It was and a cold and miserable November day in Norwich during the later stages of World War Two (November the 24th, 1944). Clouds were hanging heavy and grey over Horsham St Faith’s Airfield and the European Air War had been put on hold – briefly – by this heavy cloud-cover which was stretching out far across the continent. Sitting patiently upon the airfield’s aprons were a collection of freshly-fuelled American B24 Liberators, waiting for the all-clear to head off up and into those murky skies above Norfolk. The young American airmen crammed into these large bombers must have been feeling fairly relaxed, for today they wouldn’t be putting their lives in danger by heading out across the North Sea and deep into enemy airspace; instead, they were about to take advantage of the bad weather and head off up into the low-hanging clouds above Norfolk for some much-needed low-visibility flight training. Continue reading “Lady Jane”→
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.”→
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”→