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Why would anyone live on Prince of Wales Road?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:25 11 January 2020

Mercy nightclub is becoming 50 homes, but Steven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road    Photo: Archant

Mercy nightclub is becoming 50 homes, but Steven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road Photo: Archant

Archant

Prince of Wales Road is blighted.

Steven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road    Photo: ArchantSteven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road Photo: Archant

Simply hearing or reading its name conjures bleak pictures of young weekend revellers fighting, puking, collapsing, shouting and crying.

Every time I've ventured down this road on a Friday or Saturday night, en route to the railway station, I've felt intimidated: drunk young idiots demand to know who I'm looking at; girls dressed for hypothermia shriek with each other after making lewd comments about my butt; a lad urinates in a shop doorway; sirens wail.

The Devil himself would probably find it too disturbing.

But now there are plans to redevelop the former Mercy nightclub into up to 50 homes and a cafe.

Mercy nightclub is becoming 50 homes, but Steven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road    Photo: Archant Photo: EstateducationMercy nightclub is becoming 50 homes, but Steven Downes wonders who would want to live on Prince of Wales Road Photo: Archant Photo: Estateducation

Who on Earth would want to live there, though? Granted, it has a certain faded grandeur about it, with some beautiful buildings (if you look above the ground floor) and the long view down to Thorpe Station.

It isn't exactly Aleppo or Ipswich. There are some redeeming features.

Nonetheless, it is Prince of Wales Road. And we all know what that means.

You could buy a penthouse flat with superb views of people vomiting and passing out. It is a ringside ticket to some very entertaining fights.

You'll be serenaded in the early hours by tuneless yobs and cackling hags, benefit from blue disco lights, and be kept awake by men shouting "leave it, Brandon: he ain't worf it".

Open your curtains and your window will become a TV, showing an endless EastEnders omnibus.

Debauchery, misery and mayhem: if that's your bag, put down a deposit and get ready to tune in every weekend.

The morning after, you can walk on the set of this soap opera, picking your way through takeaway boxes and wrappers, lager cans and Bacardi Breezer bottles - and carefully avoiding the pavement pizzas.

Maybe grab a souvenir?

This might all sound a bit harsh: there are plenty of hardworking business people, and even more decent clubbers who are just looking to have a good night out. And they have to go somewhere.

I'm just saying that Prince of Wales Road is not a place to live: it isn't somewhere for your mum to come to visit you, or your children to endure.

But this is now. The road has a grand past, and maybe it could have a fine future.

However, like some criminals trying to start a new life, it should begin with an identity change - a new name.

Turning Mercy into 50 homes is a very good start, but for as long as it remains Prince of Wales Road, it will be blighted in the minds of generations of Norwich and Norfolk people.

Names are powerful - for good and for bad.

I'd change it. Ditch the Royal moniker and choose a king or queen of Norwich: Delia Smith Avenue; Grant Holt Way; Roy Blower Road.

Or the simple Station Road, or Corn Exchange Street, or Castle Rise.

It's a symbolic move, which would be strengthened as more new flats are developed, and the nature of the shops and takeaways changes to reflect the street's improvement.

Tombland is a case study of the resuscitation of a road. A few decades back, it was the beating heart of Norwich's club scene, with Ritzy's, Fifth Avenue and Hy's. It wasn't a pretty place to be on weekend nights.

Take a look at it now. Restaurants have replaced nightclubs, and it's a laid-back part of Norwich's progressive evening economy.

Meanwhile, the mayhem migrated to Prince of Wales Road and Riverside.

Hopefully, though, Prince of Wales Road can be revived - and it will once more become a grand entrance to Norwich and a sought-after location for people to live.

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