Norwich, the old cityOld City NewsEast Anglia, Land of the Iceni

27 October 2004
Norwich News Catch-up.
Looking back over the last few years.

Caleys, Mackintosh, Roundtree-Mackintosh or Nestlé - the name you knew it by depends on your age. Whatever the name, the smell that wafted over that area of the city was well known for over a century. Caleys started producing chocolate in 1886. The factory then was situated in pleasant garden surroundings. Over the years the factory expanded, and by the time it closed in 1996 the buildings occupied the entire site.

Chapelfield 2000
Chapelfield from the Malthouse Car Park - March 2000

After much speculation about possible future uses for the site, the retail developers got their way, and demolition started towards building the largest shopping mall within the city walls...

Chapelfield 2003
Chapelfield from the Malthouse Car Park - March 2003

The shopping development, which covers over 11 acres (4.7 ha) and includes 100 homes and a 1,000 space car-park, extends way past the Caley site - to Rampant Horse Street/Theatre Street in the north, and to St Stephens Street in the west.
By the way, the Malthouse multi-storey car park (from which I took these photographs) has been demolished as part of the development.

Over 50 businesses have already signed-up for the centre which is due to open Autumn 2005. The effect this complex will have on the rest of the city centre only time will tell....

Norfolk & Norwich Hospital.
The new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (built on a green-field site south of the city) was opened in 2001. A great bit of planning - build a major complex on a country lane and then spend years in expensive enquiries and surveys deciding on building a road system to get to it!

New Norfolk and Norwich Hospital
New Norfolk and Norwich Hospital

This of course left the city with another major brown-field site ripe for redevelopment.

The main original buildings on St Stephens Road (seen in the background in this pic) have been saved, but the rest of the site has quickly been demolished, and several hundred houses are being built.

Norwich Bus Station.
For several years there were discussions about what to do with the decaying Surrey Street Bus Station. Norwich Union, who owned the site, wanted to knock it all down and build a multi-plex cinema, hotel and housing with just a small lay-by at the top on Queens Road for buses.
After lots of arguments about other possible locations for the bus station, Norfolk County Council bought the site, which has now been demolished. Eventually a modern bus station will be built along with a hotel where the workshops used to be.

King Street.
The view below, taken from the top of St Julians Alley looks across what was the site of Morgans Brewery - the oldest of the Norwich breweries. On the left you can see Dragon Hall, and the warehouse next to it (that was part of the brewery complex) is due to be replaced by future development.

King Street 2003
Looking down on King Street - April 2003

There had been a brewery on this site since the 1500's. The Morgan brothers acquired the business in 1844. In 1958 the major brewers in the city started merging, and in 1963 Watney Mann took over the group. In 1971 it was taken over by Grand Metropolitan which set up The Norwich Brewery. They were all closed down in 1985. The site is currently under development as a housing estate.

Many other parts of King Street (which has been decaying since the war) are due to be rebuilt. None of these projects are attempting to restore the old character of one of Norwich's oldest streets.

The Lost Shops & Factories.
HovellsThe new century has seen the closure of shops and businesses that have been here for over a century.

No longer will we see the wicker baskets at the corner of Bridewell Alley and Bedford Street.
Hovells, which started here in 1864 has closed. As has Butchers, the drapers & haberdashers, who's shop stood on the coner of Swan Lane and Bedford Street.

Barcleys Bank have closed their premises that took up one side of Bank Plain.
The once famous Sampson & Hercules dance hall, which has been known by several names in the past few years, has also closed it doors for the last time and is to be converted to housing.

And the final nail has been driven into the coffin of the city's long history of boot & shoe manufacturing. Startrite have closed their factory and moved production to the far east.

As for name changes.....
Eastern Counties Newspapers is now called Archant.
Norwich Union was swallowed up by Commercial General, who decided to call themselves C.G.N.U. A few months later, they changed their minds and decided to market themselves as Norwich Union again.
On All Saints Green, the name 'Bonds' has been removed. The shop has long been part of the John Lewis chain, but they finally decided to remove the name that will for many of us, be associated with that shop for years to come. After all, it had been 'Bonds' for over a century.

The next major project in the city centre is the re-vamp of the Market Place which is due to start in January. This troubled scheme started with the Council wasting several thousands of pounds running a competition for designs which naturally resulted in over-the-top ideas. For once, the population stood up and protested at the ideas, and eventually the Council conceded and decided to just re-vamp the Market.

However, this couldn't be done simply. They just had to employ a top architect to do the redesign, who has come up with a grandeous scheme involving moving roofs over the aisles, idiot boards marking the rows and a zig-zag roof design that makes the view from the front of the market look like a row of beach huts.
The market traders are still waiting to see a 'sample stall', but we have already seen the start of traders deciding to shut up shop. When they find out how much the new stalls will restrict their trading area, we can expect many more to follow.

And finally, for this newsletter, the streets of Norwich are undergoing drastic changes as junctions are being reshaped and car access is being restricted. The bus is finally going to rule the streets. Mind you, with all the buses there are on the road, I often have to wait for up to 3/4 of an hour on a bus route that's supposed to be every 15 minutes!

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Copyright © Ken Ward 2004
Last Updated: 27 October 2004