Half a century ago a palace of dreams in the heart of Norwich was being destroyed – people would watch in dismay as the theatre which played such a leading role in the life of the city was smashed to pieces.

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It opened as the Grand Opera House in 1903, went on to attract some of the biggest stars around, survived the 1942 Norwich Blitz by the skin of its teeth, only to be closed and then demolished in the 1960s. Ten years after the appearance of Laurel and Hardy in 1954, the planners decided that the Hippodrome – by now boarded up and vandalised – had no future.

What was needed was a multi-storey car park so one was built – in St Giles along with some council offices.

A classic example of another majestic Norwich building which, according to those in power, stood in the way of progress.

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