11 shops we’d like to see return to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:30 13 December 2019

Virgin Megastore was briefly rebranded as Zavvi before closing for good.

Virgin Megastore was briefly rebranded as Zavvi before closing for good.


From Hovells to Woolies here are just some of the retailers which have disappeared from the city we’d like to see make a comeback.

Hovells was at the top of Bridewell Alley.Hovells was at the top of Bridewell Alley.

1. Hovells, Bridewell Alley

On the corner of Bridewell Alley and Bedford Street, we can still remember the distinctive woody aroma of labyrinthine basket and wickerware specialist Hovells. It moved to Barker Street in 2003, where it branched out into furniture, and then closed for good in 2012, after almost 150 years of trading in the city.

2. Brambles, Exchange Street

Habitat is now home to Cosmo restaurant.Habitat is now home to Cosmo restaurant.

For almost 40 years, Brambles brightened up birthdays and was loved for its quirky selection of cards, gifts, prints and posters. It closed in 2015 when its owners retired.

3. Various record shops

A poll of the EDP and Evening News office revealed a great deal of nostalgia for record shops. There were fond mentions of Backs Records in Swan Lane and Robin's Records on Pottergate, plus Lizard and Andy's Records on Lower Goat Lane. HMV, when it was upstairs in Topshop, Our Price, which was in London Street and, of course, Virgin Megastore in Castle Mall, which briefly became Zavvi before the chain shut up shop for good, were other suggestions.

Andy's Records was in Lower Goat LaneAndy's Records was in Lower Goat Lane

4. Indoor Market, St Benedict's

The Indoor Market on St Benedict's was the place to hunt out secondhand treasures - and just hang out.

5. Borders, Chapelfield

With books, a huge magazine section, music, stationers and a cafe, Borders was the perfect place to have a mooch around on your lunchbreak. The chain left the UK at the end of 2009.

6. C&A, Hay Hill

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Now home to Next, there were lots of votes for C&A to return. The chain left the UK in 2001, but you can find it in various locations across mainland Europe, including Germany, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

7. Snob, Haymarket

In the 80s there was only one way to show that you were a la mode - a beret. And Snob, where Pret a Manger is now, was the place to buy them.

8. Woolworths

It's more than a decade since Woolworths became another high street casualty, but a Saturday trip up the city still isn't quite the same without popping into Woolies for a bag of pick n mix.

9. Athena, Rampant Horse Street

And indeed, another stop on a Saturday circuit of the city would be a look at the posters in Athena. The Norwich branch is long gone, but the purveyor of art prints still had a high street presence up until 2014, when the last store closed, and it still lives on online.

Hands up if you had L'Enfant, the moody black and white portrait of a man cradling a baby, on your wall.

10. Granny Wouldn't Like It, Royal Arcade

Granny may indeed not have liked it, but this boutique's racks of hippy-inspired fashion were like catnip to Norwich's teenage shoppers.

11. Habitat, London Street

Another favourite lunchbreak activity was a wander round Habitat daydreaming about your perfect home. Or maybe that was just us. Habitat closed in 2011, but like Athena the name lives on online and there are now Habitat concessions in some Sainsbury's stores. The shop itself is now home to Cosmo World Buffet and The Gym.

Which shops would you like to return to Norwich? Tell us in the comments below or email.

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