A to Z of Norwich knowledge- This week we look at Argyle Street, Beatles and Canaries

Beatles at the Grosvenor in 1963 staff pic een 10/2/02

Beatles at the Grosvenor in 1963 staff pic een 10/2/02 - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Each week we look at some of Norwich's most famous sites and stories and the facts behind him. This week we look at things beginning A,B and C.

A is for Argyle Street

Argyle Street formed part of the wave of terraced housing developments which took place within the Walled City following the approval of the Artisan's Dwelling Act of 1875. Most of the two-up/two-down terraced houses near King Street and Ber Street survived for less than 100 years and the majority were redeveloped in radical 1950s city council clearance scheme. The character of the area was totally changed with the development of Normandie Tower, on Rouen Road.

Argyle Street avoided this redevelopment and by the late 1970s there was a move for the university to buy the surviving terraced houses from the council for student accommodation. The plans faltered, though, when the government refused financial assistance and as the properties sat empty 120 squatters moved in to what became Britain's longest running squat.

The squatters formed a co-operative and sought financial aid from the government. In 1981, a £1m renovation grant was agreed but the following year council proposals to sell or lease the site to the co-operative were blocked. By 1985, with little sign of a resolution the council resolved to demolish the properties and redevelop. The bailiffs moved in, the Republic of Argyle Street was evicted and the bulldozers quickly demolished properties. New properties were built shortly.


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B is for Beatles

In 1963 on May 17, the Beatles made their one and only appearance in Norwich and performed to a crowd of 1,700 people at the Grosvenor Rooms on Prince of Wales Road, (now redeveloped as the Grosvenor House office block) for a fee of £250.

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Their appearance came immediately after their first number 1 single and their first album topped the charts.

Following the gig they enjoyed fish and chips with fans in Valori's in Rose Lane. In 2002, Paul McCartney, former Beatle and popular music legend, returned and visited the University of East Anglia to make a public poetry reading.

B is also for Blyth, Dr Ernest

Ernest Egberth Blyth was the last Mayor and first Lord Mayor of Norwich. A solicitor by profession, Dr Blyth entered public life to improve educational provision and to address the challenges of slum housing.

He is commemorated by Blyth Road, just off Elm Grove Lane, although his more appropriate memorial, the former Blyth School, has been renamed Sewell Park College.

C is for Canaries

Sailors from the Spanish Netherlands captured finches from the Canary Isles on their travels and kept them as caged pets.

When, in the mid 16th century, Flemish and Dutch refugees fled from the Duke of Alva's persecution of 'religious heretics' and came to Norwich to reinvigorate the textile industry, they brought their finches with them and developed canary breeding as a staple activity in the city.

The Norwich Canary became a specialised breed to the extent that when the city established its own association football team in the 1900s, Norwich City became the Canaries and the name has remained ever since.

C is also for Carrow Bridge

The first Carrow Bridge, by Arthur Browne, was built as a fixed bridge in 1810 but 175 yards downstream from its current position on an alignment with the factory entrance of Colmans in King Street.

This was replaced by a double bascule lifting bridge in 1833 to enable larger ships to gain access to the Port of Norwich.

The bridge on the current site was designed by AE Collins. It was started in 1920 as part of an employment creation scheme and officially opened in June 1923 by the future King Edward VIII.

•Information kindly republished from The Norwich Knowledge, written and published by Michael Loveday and available in Norwich bookshops.

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