Man behind restoration of city's most iconic landmarks retires after 43 years
PUBLISHED: 16:32 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 01 November 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A man who has spent more than half his life protecting historic buildings in Norwich from neglect and ruin is standing down.
Now aged 83, Malcolm Crowder will be taking a well-earned break as he retires from his role as secretary and surveyor for the Norwich Preservation Trust (NPT).
Mr Crowder joined NPT in 1975, just nine years after the trust was formed in 1966, while he worked at the University of East Anglia as deputy estates officer.
For the next 43 years, Mr Crowder would oversee the restoration and preservation of some the city’s most culturally significant buildings, including the Augustine Steward’s House in Tombland, Gybson’s Conduit in Westwick Street and, more recently, the 14th century Britons Arms in Elm Hill, Norwich’s most photographed street.
“I like responding to challenges,” he said. “My main interest with the trust was solving problems.
“You can’t reduce risk with these sorts of projects, you always find things you weren’t aware of, but it gives me pleasure to be able to walk through the buildings we have helped to restore.”
One of his favourites projects, he said, was restoring the former King of Hearts in Fye Bridge Street, which now houses the Anteros Arts Foundation.
The medieval building was at risk of being converted into five flats and four commercial units, and had previously included a kebab takeaway and souvenir shop.
Mr Crowder said it was the most complicated project he had worked on, which cost £915,000 to restore but revealed a mullioned window hidden behind plasterboard and ancient stonework nodding to its grandeur past.
“There were all sorts of difficulties to overcome,” Mr Crowder said. “But it was an interesting project.
“And what we have now is a magnificent building.
“Norwich is an amazing medieval city, there are major buildings here but a lot of the smaller buildings, like the craftsman cottage homes, have been described as a thread that ties the major buildings together.”
On how he will be enjoying his retirement, Mr Crowder said he will be going on a wildlife holiday to Namibia later this month.
“Spend some time away from buildings,” he added.