Anglia Square: What was there before?

Can you remember how Anglia Square looked in the 1980s?

Can you remember how Anglia Square looked in the 1980s? - Credit: Archant

We have delved into our archives to dig-out these old photos of Anglia Square as we take a look at the history of one of the city's most iconic areas.

The area where Anglia Square stands today was part of the Saxon settlement of Northwic, which was defended by Anglo-Scandinavian defensive ditches running along what is now Botolph Street and Anglia Square car park.

Magdalen Street and St Augustine's, which are two of the oldest streets in Norwich, date back to those times.

During the 19th century, a Crape Manufactory – a factory which produced a fabric often worn when mourning – was built where Anglia Square now stands. It was demolished in the 1960s.

The area was heavily bombed during the Baedeker raids in April 1942 and the area was deemed suitable for post-war development.

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That saw Sovereign House built for Her Majesty's Stationery Office in the late 1960s and Anglia Square, the cinema and car parks followed in the early 1970s.

That period also saw the construction of the St Crispin's Road flyover which formed part of the inner ring road and controversially bisected Magdalen Street.

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Today we explained how a fresh attempt to breathe new life into Anglia Square is due to be lodged next year but for Dan Grimmer it feels like we've been here before...

The area around Anglia Square was targeted for regeneration way back in 2006.

At that time, Norwich City Council put together a strategy, known as the northern area action plan, to encourage investment in the area and to serve as a blueprint to determine planning applications in the area.

The hope was that new flats and offices would be built in the area and the revamp of Anglia Square would lead to an influx of new restaurants, cafés and shops,

It didn't happen. Progress on the facelift was stymied because of the recession and the banking crisis. Anglia Square ended up being sold in 2014 for a fraction of the price it had commanded in 2006.

The new owner Threadneedle Investments quickly made clear it would not be leaping in with redevelopment plans, but brought in former Castle Mall manager Eric Kirk to, as he put it, 'chip away' to make improvements.

Now, here we are again, with Norwich City Council once again coming up with a strategy to pave the way for an application to breathe new life into the square – with an application pending.

Time will tell whether this time, Anglia Square will get the investment it deserves, or whether this is another false dawn.

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