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New tower to be named after Norwich man who inspired The Beatles

PUBLISHED: 16:27 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 05 December 2017

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Pic: Archant Library.

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Pic: Archant Library.

Archant

He was immortalised in a song by The Beatles and has a blue plaque commemorating him, but now one of Norwich’s most celebrated Victorians is to lend his name to a new tower taking shape in the city.

Pablo Fanque House takes shape. Pic: Dan Grimmer. Pablo Fanque House takes shape. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The developers behind the 13-storey student accommodation being built in All Saints Green have announced the complex will be named Pablo Fanque House.

Fanque was born William Darby in Norwich in 1810 and lived in Ber Street, just around the corner from Alumno Developments’ new tower.

As a young man, Fanque joined a circus where he trained and handled horses. But he was also skilled as a tightrope walker and trapeze artist.

He struck out on his own in the early 1840s, becoming the first black circus owner in the country. His circus primarily performed in the north of England.

Posters for Pablo Fanque's circus inspired the Sgt Pepper song, Posters for Pablo Fanque's circus inspired the Sgt Pepper song, "Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite!". Pic: Archant Library.

It was a poster for one of his shows which was the inspiration for John Lennon, when he wrote Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite.

The song, which features on the Fab Four’s 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, includes the lyric: “The Hendersons will all be there/Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair.”

Pablo Fanque House will feature a specially commissioned interactive zoetrope – a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures.

The animation will mark Fanque’s story, and be complemented by a poetry wall telling of his link to the circus and one of the most influential acts in musical history.

How Pablo Fanque House will look when complete. Pic: Alumno Developments. How Pablo Fanque House will look when complete. Pic: Alumno Developments.

A topping our ceremony at the tower will take place next week.

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno, said, “We’re delighted to have reached this important milestone in the construction of Pablo Fanque House.

“This offers an alternative to students taking up space in the local housing stock, and will encourage a new community to enjoy life in this vibrant city.”

The tower, being built where Mecca Bingo once stood, had sparked an objection from nearby Aviva, who said working conditions for more than 2,000 city centre staff would suffer if the tower block next to their offices got the go-ahead.

The Beatles. Pic: AP Photo/Robert Freeman- Copyright Apple Corps Ltd. The Beatles. Pic: AP Photo/Robert Freeman- Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.

But Norwich City Council granted approval and it is due to open next year.

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Caroline Culot

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I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.