A look at Norwich market through the decades

Norwich Market, 1932. Picture: Archant Library

Norwich market has been a focal point in the city for over 900 years. Here it is in 1932. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich market has a long and varied history and has been at the heart of the city for over 900 years.

Its roots can be traced back to the 11th century, after it was established by Normans following the 1066 conquest.

The market continued to grow and by the Middle Ages it stretched from the Guildhall all the way to St Stephens, and was one of the most important market areas in the country.

While Norwich's stature has declined since its Medieval heights, the city's market continues to shine nationally through regularly winning national awards.

These fascinating pictures show how Norwich market has changed over the decades.

Norwich marketplace and the Royal Arcade in the 1930's. Picture: Archant Library

Norwich marketplace and the Royal Arcade in the 1930's. - Credit: Archant Library

In the 1930s, Norwich market was made up of traders selling their wares under temporary structures. They were tightly packed under canvas in the area between St Peter Mancroft and the Guildhall. 

By the end of the decade, the market was due a major revamp, after becoming ramshackle over the years.

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Norwich City Council also needed more room for their ever-growing departments.

The construction of the new city hall required several buildings to be destroyed in the area, and the market was also to be redesigned as part of the £348,000 scheme. 

nch open air market under contruction mid 1938 p1375

Norwich market under construction mid-1938 during the revamp - Credit: Archant

The market was moved to the back of town hall whilst the original site was being relaid. The new city hall building was officially opened on October 29, 1938. It was at this time that the market's colourful tent roofs became a fixture.

Norwich market through decades - Market stalls at back of town hall whilst orginal site being relaid

Norwich market through decades - Market stalls at back of town hall whilst orginal site being relaid, 1938 - Credit: Archant

After being rebuilt, the market returned to normal action and trading resumed. 

Stalls selling flowers and plants continue to be popular at the market. Today there are several selling everything from cacti, tropical plants to locally-grown flowers.

There was a touch of Spring about Norwich Market. Flowers offered for sale seemed to have taken full

There was a touch of Spring about Norwich Market. Flowers offered for sale seemed to have taken full advantage of the weeks sunshine to put on the best display of the year. This picture was taken in 1953. - Credit: Archant

It was all smiles at the well-stocked flower stall on Norwich Market in January 1964. Norwich-grown

It was all smiles at the well-stocked flower stall on Norwich Market in January 1964. Norwich-grown hothouse daffodils were the preferred blooms, judging by the display and the purchasers. - Credit: Archant

The market has always had a wide range of products available and every year there seems to be more and more variety available. There are two fruit and vegetable stalls operating in the market today, CJ's and Mike, Debs and Sons, which have been passed down through several family generations. 

Stall holder serving customer on his fruit and vegetable stall at Norwich market at Christmas pic t

Stall holder serving customer on his fruit and vegetable stall at Norwich market at Christmas in December 1952. - Credit: Archant

Christmas shopping at a fruit and veg stall on Norwich market. Date: December 16, 1967

Christmas shopping at a fruit and veg stall on Norwich market. Date: December 16, 1967 - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich castle and Norwich market have both stood the test of time and continue to attract thousands of people each year to the city.

Norwich market / castle view pic taken 11th nov 1966 m4141-39 pic to be used in lets talk nov 201

A lovely shot down the market aisles with the castle in the background. Taken in 1966. - Credit: Archant

The last major shake up of Norwich market was in 1976 when hot and cold water and electricity cables were installed. This allowed for the market to be lit up at night so trading could continue into the evening. 

NORWICH MARKET WAS MOVED INTO THE BETHEL STREET CAR PARK DURING THE LAST MAJOR SHAKE-UP IN 1976.

The market had running water and electricity installed in 1976. The market was moved to Bethel Street car park while the work was carried out. - Credit: ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2004.

Norwich market through decades - Norwich market at night, 07.12.1982

This picture taken in December 1982 shows Norwich market lit up at night, and it seems to be busy with custom - Credit: Archant

The herbs and spices stall in the market remains to this day, where you can purchase a huge array of different cooking essentials, as well as more unusual flavours and ingredients.

A health food stall on Norwich market 1989

A health food stall on Norwich market 1989 - Credit: Archant

And of course, a British market would not be complete without someone selling sausages.

Anita Pickering's stall on Norwich market in 1989

Anita Pickering's stall on Norwich market in 1989 - Credit: Archant

In 2005, Norwich market had its next big overhaul. The temporary structures were replaced with permanent stalls and metal roofs, although the colourful striped designs remained. While controversial at the time,the overhaul has ultimately been a success, as the market frequently wins national awards.

Norwich war memorial. Norwich Market. Norwich Castle.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Here is Norwich market today in full technicolour glory. - Credit: Archant

The market most recently won 'Best Large Outdoor Market in Britain' in 2019 at the Great British Market Awards. It has become a destination for foodies, with a wide range of street food vendors operating. Cuisines on offer include Chilean, Malaysian, Spanish and Moroccan, and there are often new additions to enjoy. 

Traditional British classics such as chips and mushy peas, pies and bacon butties are of course also available to enjoy. 

Other than food,visitors can browse through vintage clothing stores, natural wines, craft beer and second hand books. Pretty much everything you can think of can be found in the market, which is one of the largest outdoor markets in the country. 

The colourful canopies of Norwich Market.

The colourful roofs are an enduring characteristic of the market and help to brighten up the city - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

Despite the trials and tribulations of the past 18-months caused by the pandemic, Norwich market has continued to prosper. A one-way system was installed to help keep people safe and it remains busy with visitors and locals alike. 

What have been your favourite stalls and market traders over the years? Tell us in the comments.

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