Norwich in the 1960s: Chronicling a decade of huge change for the city

Recognise the top of St Stephen’s in the early 1960s before the demolition men moved in?

On the Queens Road corner was The Great Eastern  while on the other was the much-loved meeting place, the Kosy Knorner Kafe.

When the late George Plunkett took these pictures their days were numbered. They stood in the way of progress and would soon become just memories. Recognise the top of St Stephen’s in the early 1960s before the demolition men moved in? On the Queens Road corner was The Great Eastern while on the other was the much-loved meeting place, the Kosy Knorner Kafe. When the late George Plunkett took these pictures their days were numbered. They stood in the way of progress and would soon become just memories.

Friday, November 29, 2013
11:24 AM

They say that if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there... Well, Pete Goodrum’s latest offering gives us a reminder of what life was like during that extraordinary decade in Norwich.

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Open the pages and you will see the good, bad and the ugly of the 1960s. A time of great change when much of the old city was swept aside to make way for new developments and bigger roads.

His follow-up to Norwich in the 1950s takes an in-depth look at life in the following decade and is peppered with some great photographs by the late George Plunkett, a man we owe so much to. His pictures are a window on a lost world.

It was a time of great change when the young were emerging from the shadows to mark their mark. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix headed our way, inspiring some top local talent, and the first students at the ultra-modern University of East Anglia arrived 50 years ago.

“Such was the stance of the university that the motto it adopted was Do Different. The words are a clear indication that teaching, learning and academic achievement would be attained through a new vision for university life,” writes Pete.

Memories of the dear old Gala

At last the dear old Gala gets the attention it deserves in a book about Norwich night life in the 60s.

Big brother the Samson & Hercules always seems to take most of the honours in the 1940s and 50s and then were was the Industrial Club, the Grosvenor and of course the trendy Orford Cellar where the big names played.

But the Gala Ballroom at the top of St Stephen’s, just the other side of the roundabout nowadays, had its moments.

Jennie Polyblank and Ian Clark have lent Pete rare pictures of the inside and outside of the Gala to bring back some great memories.

Before the 60s and the days of discos, hundreds of boys and girls were taught how to waltz and cha-cha-cha at the Gala, the home of the Eileen Page School of Dancing, run by Eileen and her husband Laurie Singer.

This was the place where boys met girls but the school of dancing moved on in the 60s when the discos, complete with flashing lights and glitter balls arrived, those teens were twisting.

And many good bands played the Gala. The Kinks were there along with lots of talented local acts such as Malcolm & the Jet Blacks and Barry Lee & The Planets.

“They are also deeply connected to the arguably less academic, but equally determined, old Norfolk attitude,” he adds pointing out this modern university in an ancient city is now world famous.

Tower blocks, ring roads and multi-storey car parks changed the face of the city along with Anglia Square, St Augustine’s Swimming Pool, the library – later destroyed by fire – and the rest.

It is interesting to take a look at the impact re-development with its roundabouts and subways had. Old St Stephen’s was destroyed. Much of Magdalen Street and ancient Stump Cross stood in the way of progress and was flattened to make way for the fly-over.

Striking examples of 60s architecture County Hall arrived along with Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. Today our municipal offices are covered in scaffolding and as the for the stationary office... What a sad sight.

But Pete takes us on a fascinating journey down memory lane and we still have a city we can be proud of.

The photograph on the cover kicks off the walk... and sums it all up rather well.

Author Pete says: “It takes in so many elements of the centre of Norwich during the 1960s.

“Dominating the background is the church of St Peter Mancroft. Already over 500 years old when this picture was taken. It looks down on the statue of Sir Thomas Browne, the great scholar, doctor and author who lived in Norwich from 1637 until his death in 1682.

“These reminders of the city’s antiquity are faced, from the other side of Haymarket, by architecture from a later time.

“The style of George Skipper is stamped into the decorative frontage of Skipper’s Number 1, Haymarket. Built in 1902.

“It is the first building in Haymarket and the Panks’ shop in this picture is the first in the adjoining Orford Place. Across the street is an even newer part of the city centre. Built on the site of the Haymarket Cinema, Peter Robinson was shopping for the 1960s.

“Ancient and modern, side by side, Norwich was altering and there is no better place to start the story of Norwich in the 1960s than in the city centre streets,” he adds.

Norwich in the 1960s by Pete Goodrum is published by Amberley at £14.99.

1 comment

  • Might I suggest you buy a dictionary and learn the difference between 'stationary' and 'stationery'?

    Report this comment

    Only Me

    Friday, November 29, 2013

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