Take a look at how Norwich’s St Stephen’s roundabout looked 50 years ago

The way it was more than 50 years ago. St Stephen’s roundabout and subway being built in Norwich.

The way it was more than 50 years ago. St Stephen’s roundabout and subway being built in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Here is how St Stephen's roundabout and subway looked more than 50 years ago when it was being built, it is fair to say that Norwich's road network has changed a bit since then.

You may think getting around Norwich at the moment with all the roadworks taking place not easy... more than 50 years ago one of our photographers leaned out from the first multi-storey car park to be built in the city and took this picture.

This was the way it was at what is now the familiar roundabout at the top of St Stephen's when the inner ring road was being carved out and buildings which stood in the way of progress were flattened.

It was quite an operation to build both the roundabout, the subway, for motorists and pedestrians to use in the new-look city.

This was the main entrance to Norwich from London but this proud thoroughfare has taken a pounding over the centuries from both the planners and the Luftwaffe. One wonders what the road would look like if the thatched Boar's Head on the corner of Surrey Street hadn't been blown up in 1942?


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Times change but there is one building on this 1964 photograph with a fantastic work of art on the wall which is still there for all to see and admire. Giving us a flavour of what it was like so many years ago.

There stands the Coachmakers' Arms with its landmark sign depicting St Stephen's Gate by the incredible talented John Moray-Smith.

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The licence for this popular hostelry dates back to 1802 although it was probably trading before then.

The panel was made and modelled on site by Moray-Smith, a man still surrounded by a certain amount of mystery.

It is said he came from Italy, married a Costessey girl, took her name, and in the 1930s worked for Morgans producing some of the finest and eye-catching art installations you are ever likely to see on the walls of some of their pubs. He produced the one at the Coachmakers' in 1937. It was made and modelled on site and people said they remembered him wearing jodhpurs and bright red stockings standing on scaffolding to compete the work.

It is based on a 1792 Ninham print of the gate, once the grandest entrance to the city. There was also a time when severed heads could be seen on spikes. These were taken down and the gallows hidden from view when Queen Elizabeth I arrived, riding side-saddle, in 1578, with all her companions.

A couple of hundred years later the gate was pulled down. It would have stood, away from traffic, on the north-eastern side of the traffic island. Hidden history was destroyed with the arrival of the roundabout and subway.

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