BEFORE AND AFTER: Regeneration of St Stephens Street in the 1960s
- Credit: Archant
St Stephens Street has been one of the main roads into Norwich for hundreds of years.
In fact, Queen Elizabeth I once rode down the street in 1578, with crowds of people lining up to cheer her arrival.
Despite its long history, WWII bombing and planning decisions have changed much of the street's identity.
Yet change is inevitable, and St Stephens Street had a radical regeneration in the late 1950s and 60s.
These picture from our archives show how the street was transformed and brought into the 20th century by 1960s developers.
In the 1940s, St Stephens Street was a very different place. It retained some of the medieval architecture that can be found elsewhere in Norwich, such as in Elm Hill or Tombland.
The street was also lined by grand Victorian buildings and shop front awnings. They were a number of fine historic buildings of real character.
- 1 Tudor Stores reopens as manager resigns over safety fears
- 2 'It's very bad'-Trade decline frustration at stores as roadworks take place
- 3 How Norwich are you? Take our quiz to find out
- 4 Caravan catches fire in Norwich
- 5 Armed police called to reports of man with knife
- 6 Key route into city closes for a week for safety improvement work
- 7 Norwich mum and daughter duo shed 12st
- 8 Jets heard roaring over Norwich for training exercise
- 9 Five people spiked at three Norwich venues over the weekend
- 10 Family pays tribute to man killed after collision with double-decker bus
But planners at the time did not see the importance of maintaining architecture of the past. They were instead keen to modernise areas of Norwich, including Elm Hill and the Guildhall.
The Baedeker Blitz of 1942 destroyed much of the area, and gave developers an opportunity to reimagine the important street.
At this time, older buildings were considered dated and modern, futuristic architecture was considered good. This was the period of brutalist design, which, while popular at the time, has become a visual sore-point across many urban areas.
Love it or hate it, 1960s architecture certainly had a unique character and it had a big impact upon city skylines to this day.
WH Smiths was one of the first businesses to move in to the new buildings, and there remains a post office and WH Smiths store in St Stephens today.
Formerly home of Bunting's department store, the Marks & Spencer remains a focal point in the city, and is one of the largest stores in Norwich.
In recent years, the decline of department stores has left few remaining. Thankfully, the likes of Jarrold, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer continue to draw shoppers into the city today.
There used to be a number of public houses on St Stephens Street but they have since disappeared. The Great Eastern made way for a multi-storey car park, one of the first in the city.
The new multi-storey car park did allow for some great views of the area though. This following picture shows buildings that had been demolished to make way for the St Stephen's Gate roundabout.
While the below photo was taken in the 1960s, the sight of a number of cranes in action along St Stephens remains a common feature, as there are regularly developments taking place around the area, with many being new student housing.
The road was widened during the development, allowing more traffic to flow through what is one of the major roads into Norwich city centre.
By 1964, St Stephens Street had begun to take shape and much of the characteristics we know today were formed.
This wintry shot of the street gives a great sense of how the skyline of the city was changed following redevelopment of St Stephens, with the addition of a number of high-rise buildings.
After 50 years, it seems St Stephens is due for its next round of regeneration.
Norwich City Council plan to make some big changes to the street, hoping to improve pedestrian access and adding extra bays for buses.
Work for the £6.1m revamp began in September this year, and has been funded through some of the money given to the council through the Transforming Cities scheme.
In total, £32m was awarded, which will be used for a number of changes to the layout of Norwich's streets in over forthcoming months.
What do you remember about St Stephens Street over the years? Are there any buildings or businesses that have come and gone that you know miss?
Let us know on our Norwich Remembers group on Facebook.