The 15 nationalities of Norwich’s Magdalen Street: A walk down the most diverse shopping area in Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
Welcome to the most cosmopolitan street in Norwich - boasting shopkeepers from more then 15 countries. Hear what some Magdalen Street shopkeepers have to say about life in Norfolk here.
Business owners on Magdalen Street hail from three continents and at least 15 countries, including Thailand, Bulgaria and China, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and Nigeria.
Shoppers can pick up all sorts of things along the high street such as falafels and halal meat alongside more traditional British fare of cockles.
Here eight shop owners, all of different nationalities, explain what it is like to run a business on the road.
You may also want to watch:
Carxel Hair Design opened in Anglia Square just over three years ago and is owned by Carine who emigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the UK 11 years ago. It is her first business and she said that Magdalen Street was an ideal location for it.
- 1 Driver who died in A47 crash had medical episode
- 2 Plans to open McDonald's on outskirts of town in 2022
- 3 Chance to have your say over 4,000-home development
- 4 First look as Norwich's new £2.75m recycling centre opens
- 5 Birds of prey found shot and poisoned during raid in Norfolk
- 6 Teen opens American sweet shop in town
- 7 Two Norfolk gastropubs named among best in country
- 8 Reader letter: How Roy Hodgson can save Norwich City
- 9 Woman in 70s knocked over by cyclist at bus station
- 10 'Ugly' Norfolk pub fight was sparked by act of revenge, court hears
'I have been here for three years now and decided to have the business here as there was already a large African population,' she said. 'But we now offer different services for people from different cultures. We are getting lots of customers and everyone is friendly.'
Jerusalem-inspired street food is the star of the menu at Ruth's Kitchen which was opened by Julian Kitcher and his Israeli wife Ruth last year. The pair decided to open the shop on the street due to the cheap business rates and the ethnic diversity of the area and Julian believes the road is invaluable to Norwich's economy.
'The street is really important to the city's economy as the majority of the shops are independent and the money spent in them stays in Norwich unlike the national brands in other parts of the city,' he said. 'It is really important to have somewhere like this in Norwich as traditionally independent areas of the city such as the Lanes are becoming more branded and catering very much to the white middle class whereas here many people are more working class.'
With all the European and Middle Eastern food on sale on Magdalen Street, S&J Seafood shows there is still an appetite for Norfolk cuisine like the Cromer Crab. Shirley Tyrrell has been running the fishmongers with her husband John for five years and said that people from all over the world enjoy the traditional English delicacies they sell.
'It is good is having all the different nationalities along the street and I get a wide mixture of customers,' she said. 'A lot of people from Thailand really like coming in for the shellfish and the whelks and others have their favourites too. We have one little boy who always comes in with his pocket money to buy a pot of prawns.'
Asian grocery shop owner Ajman Miah classes himself as the first immigrant to have a shop on Magdalen Street having first opened his store Ajman Miah & Company over 40 years ago. He has seen many people come and go from the road over the years and says the area has not always been transformed for the better.
'It has changed a lot since I have been here and it is not as good as it used to be,' he said. 'There is so much more traffic but less parking and they have changed the bus route so it is harder for people to get here. Lots of foreign people have come now and there is many more here then there used to be. I see lots of them come to the shop as you can't get a lot of things I sell in other places.'
Michael of MM Hair claims that Magdalen Street is 'the Peckham of Norwich' due to all the different cultures that operate there. He said: 'A long time ago some of the different nationalities on the street had a meeting about having a place where all the foreigners can go and this is how the road became what it is. This is why we call it the Peckham of Norwich.'
The hairdresser has run the salon for 16 years and has seen many changes over this time. 'This road used to be the main shopping area in the city but since Castle Mall and Chapelfield were built it no longer is,' he said. 'It is still very busy but you don't get as many buses down here anymore.'
Diamond Convenience Store has been run by Shajg Joseph for the past eight years and sells a mixture of Asian and British goods.
Mr Joseph said: 'There is a really good community of people on the street from all over the world. But there are lots more 99p type stores in the area now and less traffic due to the road changes but we are still busy.'
Maher Ben Elwaher has run Haider Butcher since 2012 after taking on the business from a friend. The shop sells halal meat and Maher said many people really appreciate the butchers being there.
'There is a real mix of people here but many from the Middle East and north Africa which is why it made sense to have a halal butchers here,' he said. 'Many of my customers are Muslim and really appreciate the shop being here as even a few years ago some of them were having to drive down to London to get their meat.'
Maria Puzgea opened Alexander European Food just three weeks ago after running a similar store in Ipswich and she said the shop is already doing well.
'We decided to open here as there are already lots of people here from Bulgaria and Romania,' she said. 'So far everyone loves all the Romanian food we sell.'
Turkish and Thai restaurants also populate the street alongside businesses owned by people from Lithuania, France, Kurdistan, Bulgaria and China.