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Owners of former family electrical store still hoping to create art gallery and cafe

PUBLISHED: 12:11 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:13 02 August 2019

Work is slowly coming on at the former Norkett's electrical store building on Unthank Road in Norwich. Inset, Richard Norkett, the former owner of the family firm. Pic: Archant

Work is slowly coming on at the former Norkett's electrical store building on Unthank Road in Norwich. Inset, Richard Norkett, the former owner of the family firm. Pic: Archant

It was an Aladdin's cave of electrical goods which bowed under the pressure of the supermarket giants. But seven years on, the former Norkett's shop in Norwich is slowly being transformed.

The former Norkett electrical store on Unthank Road as it looks today. Pic: ArchantThe former Norkett electrical store on Unthank Road as it looks today. Pic: Archant

The store, at 224, Unthank Road, was renowned for its large sunblinds emblazoned with the name WM Norkett, a family firm which had been in the city since the 1930s. It closed in 2000 with owner Richard Norkett citing competition from Tesco as the reason.

After a short spell of being empty and daubed with graffiti, it was bought in 2012 by film-makers Russell and Sophie Eade who run Unthank Artspace and got planning permission to transform the building into an art gallery, a cafe as well as creating six studios and a four bedroom home at the rear.

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Norkett's after it was sold. Pic: Archant libraryNorkett's after it was sold. Pic: Archant library

The building has been cleaned up and work is going on to create the space but Mrs Eade told this newspaper that there had been delays, largely because of the cost - citing business rates as one of the problems - as well as work commitments hampering the progress.

"We will get there eventually, we've had a lot of bad luck which I don't want to talk about," she said.

Mrs Eade added that several people had offered to buy the property, situated on prime turf in the Golden Triangle where building plots are scarce, but that they were 'not in it for the money' and wanted to pursue their dream project.

The Norkett sign is still outside the premises on Unthank Road. Pic: ArchantThe Norkett sign is still outside the premises on Unthank Road. Pic: Archant

The premises originally had planning permission to be turned into flats but that expired and then the Eades purchased it.

WM Norkett was established in Norwich, starting out in premises in St Peter's Street, where City Hall stands today. It then relocated to Westlegate and finally to Unthank Road where Mr Norkett would greet his customers offering old fashioned, high standards of personal service in a shop full of lamps and light fittings.

Richard Norkett pictured outside his shop before it closed in 2000. Pic: Archant libraryRichard Norkett pictured outside his shop before it closed in 2000. Pic: Archant library

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