History of Pinebanks: Built by a Norwich solicitor, home to a Jarrold and visited by a Queen

Pinebanks, Thorpe St andrew. Date: Sep 1975. Photo: EDP Library Pinebanks, Thorpe St andrew. Date: Sep 1975. Photo: EDP Library

Friday, July 18, 2014
6:30 AM

The original Pinebanks house is believed to have been built between 1880 and 1882 by Norwich solicitor John Odin Howard Taylor.

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The interior of the original Pinebanks house. Taken just a few weeks before the house burnt down.The interior of the original Pinebanks house. Taken just a few weeks before the house burnt down.

He had premises in Upper King Street, was a keen chess player, and he is believed to have been very influential behind the scenes in city life, as he was the secretary of the company which built Prince of Wales Road in the 1860s.

He lived at Pinebanks until he died on May 15, 1890, after a stroke.

Other notable people to live there include T C Jarrold, who was known as Herbert Jarrold, of the department store family.

The folly tower, which was built in the garden at the same time as the house, was listed as a grade-II structure in May 2006. Built of random knapped flint, with red brick and limestone dressings, the tower features oriel and mullioned windows

The interior of the original Pinebanks house. Taken just a few weeks before the house burnt down.The interior of the original Pinebanks house. Taken just a few weeks before the house burnt down.

The tower, also known as Taylor’s Folly or Taylor’s Tower, also has a shield with the incised inscription ‘HM Queen Kapiolani ascended this tower 6 June 1887’. Kapiolani, the Dowager Queen of Hawaii, was touring England on the occasion of the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Its listed building entry, quoting Towering Follies by the Journal of Norfolk Gardens Trust, said: “A prominent landmark at the top of the scarp slope above the River Wensum. Comparatively late for a folly tower, this is a good example of an eclectic High-Victorian garden building.”

While it is only the tower folly which is listed, Broadland’s conservation officers felt the original house also made a positive contribution to the appearance and character of the area.

They also felt the loss of the house would sever the architectural relationship between the house and tower, leaving the tower isolated and harming its historical significance.

After Pinebanks was closed down, investigative surveys discovered a ‘Zero’ radio bunker at the site, dating from the Second World War.

The zero stations are often mistaken for air-raid shelters but would actually have been used as a hideout for the Special Duties Organisation, which were a branch of the Auxiliary Units.


  • Its sad because not only have generations of my family worked at NU at some point, including myself, we've all used Pinebanks and have good memories of the place. I used to play hockey for the now defunct NU Hockey Club. When I was a kid we used to go to Halloween and Christmas parties there. I've been to Summer Play Schemes there and remember the fireworks displays and summer fetes. All now distant memories because Aviva don't care. Just left the place to rot, the Astro pitch is now brown, tennis courts overgrown and I wouldn't be surprised if the fire in the listed part of the building wasn't accidental!

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    Friday, July 18, 2014

  • I worked for the Norwich Union in Norwich from August 1974 til May 1978 when I transfered to it's Irish operation in Dublin. I have to say I spent many an enjoyable evening in Pinebanks and watch some good bands there as well. Sorry to see that it has come to such a dismal end.

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    Friday, July 18, 2014

  • A shining example of how Aviva has no respect for its staff. It was shut down as not all locations had such facilities and staff had to be treated equally. At the same time they shut the site in Perth (Scotland) depriving the staff there of excellent facilities and social activities. Of course its all about the profits and share price, got to keep the city and the shareholders happy. Some director, who is long gone, got a golden handshake for his work and savings, but look at the long term cost....not only to Aviva, but the city as so e of its history is lost forever.

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    Friday, July 18, 2014

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