Spring, when thoughts turn to love
HAVING WALKED around the City in my lunch hour, I noticed the Easter eggs filling supermarket shelves. Surely this signifies that spring is just around the corner?
It’s the time when a young man’s thoughts turn to love! Well, fortunately my thoughts turn to the fascinating subject of the evolution of Norwich housing and life in the city.
My one reader asked if I could tell him more about how council housing developed. I am sure this sounds utterly riveting to most, but having looked a little bit deeper into the subject, I was surprised to find that Norwich led the way.
Previously I have mentioned how Norwich developed out of the city boundaries to escape the slums in the centre and how the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme, just after the Great War, changed Norwich. Well it seems that by the 1980s, Norwich had the highest percentage of local authority housing in the country, a fact that I can’t really verify (I’ve had to rely on website information).
Norwich was apparently not only a leader in the quantity of new local authority homes, but also the quality, with one of Sir Edward Lutyens’ understudies having designed and overseen the construction of thousands of homes before retiring in the 1950s. It was also agreed that the people of Norfolk would not accept living in large blocks of flats so new spacious developments, such as Mile Cross (which was one of the first of Norwich’s local authority developments built during the 1920s) provided community centres, allotments and schooling and was considered the cutting edge of modern living.
Between 1920 and 1930, it is understood that at least 7,000 new homes had been built by the council, double that of privately-built homes. So how were the newly-housed people of Norwich enjoying the very little social time they had while not working in the factories?
Well, picture houses were beginning to pop up around the city, so it became popular to take your sweetheart to see a film. If you really wanted to impress her you could have treated her to some Rowntree’s Chocolate Squares or maybe a Flake, which came into production in 1920, followed by my favourite, the Crunchie, in 1929.
One of the most popular picture houses was the Regent on Prince Of Wales Road with its grand ballroom and café. I understand that the picture house may not have been the quietest place to go courting, as talkies didn’t really come into force until the late 1920s, so anybody who could read the subtitles often had to read them in loud whispers to their date.
If you preferred some fresh air perhaps you would don your best Derby hat and take a stroll with the object of your affection on your arm through Eaton Park. How romantic! The park was opened in 1928 by the Prince of Wales.
Having been constructed, as many of our parks in Norwich were, as a means of providing employment for returning soldiers. It took 100 men threeand-a-half years to build.
So, as you walk through Eaton Park with your sweetheart on your arm and your best hat at a jaunty angle, spend a few minutes to appreciate the work that created it.
If you really wanted to impress her you could have treated her to some Rowntree’s Chocolate Squares or maybe a Flake