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How the face of Norwich has changed over a century: A look back at Gentleman’s Walk

PUBLISHED: 14:30 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:06 05 December 2017

The same view on Easter Saturday in 1944. Picture: Archant Library

The same view on Easter Saturday in 1944. Picture: Archant Library

Archant © 2008

Today we start a new series looking at the changing face of Norwich over the last century – many of the new developments came about because the Luftwaffe set out to destroy large parts of the city during the Blitz while others were made in the name of progress.

The changing face of Norwich. The Haymarket from Brigg Street in 1898. Picture: Archant LibraryThe changing face of Norwich. The Haymarket from Brigg Street in 1898. Picture: Archant Library

Good or bad? That’s for you to judge.

The early photographs were used in a book published following the end of the Second World by A P Cooper and some of the pictures were taken by the well known Norwich photographers, Neals.

They illustrate the way we were and the way we are – and of course new buildings are going up and changes in road patterns are happening all the time.

Let’s start our journey by walking The Walk to see how the “Jarrold Corner” has changed very little over the last 100 years and then take a look at the other end of this busy city centre walkway.

Walking The Walk...the way this famous Norwich street looked during the First World War on Easter Saturday in 1915. Picture: Archant LibraryWalking The Walk...the way this famous Norwich street looked during the First World War on Easter Saturday in 1915. Picture: Archant Library

That timepiece on the wall outside H Samuel’s the jeweller has been ticking for more than 100 years, while the shops surrounding it have changed names many times.

The first picture was taken by Neals on Easter Saturday afternoon in 1915 during the First World War and it illustrates so well what life was like in the city centre of a century ago.

The trams coming round the corner, passengers in horse-drawn carriages, soldiers mingling with civilians... probably talking about what the future held.

And an old photograph wouldn’t be complete without a dog watching the world go by.

The same corner 50 years later. Picture: Archant LibraryThe same corner 50 years later. Picture: Archant Library

Names such as Hope Brothers – where gents were fitted out – and there was Ye Mecca, a popular old haunt.

Fast forward to the same view on Easter Saturday afternoon of 1944 and you will see more men in uniform. This time they may have been American airmen who “invaded” Norfolk and Suffolk during the Second World to join our fight for freedom.

The county was criss-crossed with airfields which housed thousands of GI’s.

They came from a land of plenty and were shocked to see the Brits were surviving on rations and that Norwich was a city full of gaping holes caused by the savage bombing raids which caused so much death and destruction.

The way it looks in the 21st century. A fine building for a fine city. Picture: Archant LibraryThe way it looks in the 21st century. A fine building for a fine city. Picture: Archant Library

The Americans were a blast of colour in a black and white world, and they certainly knew how to enjoy themselves. Sadly many of them would never return home.

It was during the war that Samuels was taken over by Timpson’s, who were blitzed out of Rampant Horse Street in 1942 but they returned in peacetime and that clock is still ticking away.

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