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Last link to Norwich’s tram route is removed from busy street over safety concerns

PUBLISHED: 10:22 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:14 19 September 2017

Amateur historian Mark Rhodes disappointed at the removal of a Victorian tramway pole, which stood right next to the Zone No Waiting sign at the junction of Earlham Road, with West Pottergate, and Heigham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Amateur historian Mark Rhodes disappointed at the removal of a Victorian tramway pole, which stood right next to the Zone No Waiting sign at the junction of Earlham Road, with West Pottergate, and Heigham Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

It was a popular mode of transport for thousands of people across Norwich in days gone by.

The historic tram pole on the corner of West Pottergate, Earlham Road and Heigham Road, Norwich, pictured in 2008. It has been removed and replaced with a modern lamppost. Picture: MARK RHODESThe historic tram pole on the corner of West Pottergate, Earlham Road and Heigham Road, Norwich, pictured in 2008. It has been removed and replaced with a modern lamppost. Picture: MARK RHODES

But one of the last reminders of the city’s former tram system - a cast iron tramway pole converted into a decorative lamp post on the busy junction of West Pottergate, Heigham Road and Earlham Road - was taken down.

It was removed because of “safety reasons”, according to a Norfolk County Council spokesman.

The tram pole, which was hosting a street light has been replaced with a modern lamp post - to the annoyance of an amateur historian.

Mark Rhodes, a customer service assistant from the Norwich’s Mile Cross area, spotted the change at the weekend.

Trams travelling along Gentleman's Walk in Norwich in 1930. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVETrams travelling along Gentleman's Walk in Norwich in 1930. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

He said: “I drove past the tram pole to show it to my friend and to my horror it was gone. There was a shiny, new galvanised pole in its place.

“The old pole had stood there for more than 100 years. It is very disappointing that it has gone. A bit of local history has vanished.

“Tramway poles would have been a very common site at one time but it is a shame it has gone because it was a unique reminder of the Victorian period. The tram system was transport for the masses.”

Norwich’s tram network replaced horse-drawn bus services in 1900.

The city’s final tram ran on December 10, 1935, to make way for buses.

Denise Carlo, who lives near the area and represents the Nelson Ward on Norwich City Council, said: “The chipping away of heritage features erodes the character of an area.”

A council spokesman said: “This lighting was updated in 2009 and the pole was decommissioned but not removed at that time due to its historic nature. A recent structural inspection concluded that as there was considerable corrosion to the attachments on the pole and much of it was in poor condition, unfortunately there was no alternative but to remove the pole on safety grounds.

“It has been removed in one piece and is now in safe storage, and we are happy to discuss suggestions about its use.”

Norwich tram history

Electric trams opened in Norwich in summer 1900, offering people cheap public transport for the first time.

Before that Norwich relied on horse-drawn systems.

When the new Norwich Tramway system opened in 1900, crowds lined the streets.

It was reported that men being shaved left their chairs to run out with lather on their faces to stand and stare at the vehicles.

The city centre had to be cut about to make way for them at a cost of around £250,000.

Part of the city’s medieval street plan was affected including at Orford Hill, where the row of shops next to the Bell Hotel were demolished, and the widening of the road at St Andrew’s Hill.

Within the first two months of the Norwich Tramway system, it had carried more than 50,000 passengers.

The city and its suburbs had seven main routes covering 17.5 miles of tram connections.

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