Memories of the cafeteria opened for five million Norwich bus passengers

Customers enjoy the tea, coffee and snacks available at the new Norwich Bus Station cafeteria in January 1958. 

Customers enjoy the tea, coffee and snacks available at the new Norwich Bus Station cafeteria in January 1958. - Credit: Archant Library

Multi-million pound changes to St Stephens in Norwich will transform the face of the city's retail spine once more.

But today we are stepping just off this thoroughfare and back in time to the cafe at the old Norwich Bus Station - the one which opened in 1936, not the 2005 replacement we use today at the same spot on Surrey Street.

Life before the Norwich Bus Station opened its cafeteria, seen here in July 1957.

Life before the Norwich Bus Station opened its cafeteria, seen here in July 1957. - Credit: Archant Library

Passengers mill about outside the cafe at Norwich Bus Station on October 18, 1991.

Passengers mill about outside the cafe at Norwich Bus Station. Date: October 18, 1991. - Credit: Archant Library

The cafeteria opened on January 25, 1958 and at the time an estimated five million passengers used the public transport hub per year.

It was the first project of its kind by the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company and also the first of its size in East Anglia.

This 2000 square foot extension to the bus station was the first major structural alteration to be made there since the Second World War. 

The exterior of the Norwich Bus Station cafeteria on December 29, 1994.

The exterior of the Norwich Bus Station cafeteria on December 29, 1994. - Credit: Archant Library

Cafe owner Mandy Smith, left, at Norwich Bus Station on July 29, 1996.

Cafe owner Mandy Smith, left, at Norwich Bus Station on July 29, 1996. - Credit: Archant Library

The cafe double doors opened straight onto the main departure platform and one of the special features it offered was 'packed snacks' for passengers. This was long before the days of grabbing a Boots meal deal or an array of goodies from WHSmith on the fly.

Here's how our reporter described the new facility at the time:   

Most Read

With tables to seat 40 and stools down one wall for a further 14, the furnishing of the cafe is right up to the minute. There are troughs under the windows for flowering plants, terazzo flooring, bright curtains and, on the end wall facing the counter, a large mural of a Broadland scene. The lighting is concealed. 

Customers at the  Norwich Bus Station cafe on November 29, 1994.

Customers at the Norwich Bus Station cafe on November 29, 1994. - Credit: Archant Library

Inside the cafeteria at Norwich Bus Station at Surrey Street on June 7, 1995.

Inside the cafeteria at Norwich Bus Station at Surrey Street on June 7, 1995. - Credit: Archant Library

Please enjoy these old photos from the EDP archive of the old Norwich Bus Station cafe. We hope they bring back fond memories of travelling to Norwich or around the city in days gone by. 

For more old photos and articles about Norfolk history and heritage, subscribe to our fortnightly Through the Decades email newsletter. Sign up by clicking here

The cafe signage at Norwich Bus Station on Surrey Street on October 18, 1991.

The cafe signage at Norwich Bus Station on Surrey Street. Date: October 18, 1991. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Bus Station cafe owner Peter Smith on March 6, 1996.

Norwich Bus Station cafe owner Peter Smith on March 6, 1996. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Bus Station with Norwich Union Building construction in the background on March 18, 1961.

Norwich Bus Station with Norwich Union Building construction in the background. Date: March 18, 1961. - Credit: Archant Library