Tour looks back at how the St Benedicts Street area of Norwich was affected during the Baedeker Raids

People can step back to wartime Norwich with a special tour showing how one of the city's streets was affected by the notorious Baedeker Raids.

Much of Norwich was devastated by the Germans' April 1942 raids, which saw many people lose their lives and the cityscape changed forever as countless homes and buildings were reduced to rubble.

Among the areas affected was St Benedicts Street and now Anna Sandfield and Louis Hoing, from the Hethersett-based Time Travel Team, have created a tour of the street aiming to highlight what happened there 70 years ago.

In the characters of air raid wardens Winnie Wiffen and Jack Whiffler, they take people back to the time of the raids incorporating facts, stories and music from the time along the way.

Mrs Sandfield said: 'How terrifying it must have been for people at the time.

'We just want to give people a little bit of a flavour of what happened and help them learn a little bit more about the history of the city they live in.

'Our walk with the air raid wardens is a little slice of Norwich in 1942, the raids and the bombings and also life on the home front.

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'If things like this are not remembered now, then they will become lost in the mists of time.'

She said they had decided to focus the walk on the St Benedicts Street area after seeing a photograph in which a man was standing at the St Benedicts Street crossroads with Grapes Hill and Dereham Road, in what appeared to be an enormous crater following the bombings.

Mrs Sandfield said a number of houses in the St Benedicts Street area were lost, and among the other buildings affected in the area were St Benedicts Church, Brett antique furniture dealers, The Fountain Public House, Ashworth and Pike Bakers, the St Benedicts Post Office, Vittels Grocers, Thirkettle Butchers and Hick's Fishmongers.

She said it was thought the reason the area was so badly hit was because it was close to Norwich City Station, which used to sit on the edge of the River Wensum at the bottom of Barn Road roundabout.

The Baedeker Raids, named after the tourist guide to Britain which the Germans reputedly used to choose their target cities for the raids, saw the Germans set out to destroy as much of Norwich as they could in April 1942.

On Monday, April 27, 1942, for more than two hours, the Luftwaffe pounded Norwich, and official records say 162 people were killed and nearly 600 others badly hurt.

At almost the same time on the following Wednesday the bombers returned and, according to official figures, 69 people died and nearly 90 people were badly injured.

A smaller raid also took place on the Thursday. By some miracle, Norwich's main landmarks – the cathedrals, the castle, St Peter Mancroft and City Hall – survived the raids, but much of the city was changed forever.

Time Travel Team's A Walk with the Wardens plus Stories and Music from the Home Front is next being held on Wednesday, May 9. It starts at 7.30pm at The Plough in St Benedicts Street. Tickets cost �5. For more information visit www.timetravelteam.co.uk

Derek James will be looking back at the Norwich Blitz in the Evening News tomorrow and Thursday.

Are you involved in a new heritage project in the city? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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