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AUDIO: Exhibition captures memories of Norwich's historic King Street

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 March 2011 | UPDATED: 08:16 21 March 2011

Workers in the old AE Plumstead factory on King Street.


(provided by Vic and Hugh Redington)

Workers in the old AE Plumstead factory on King Street. (provided by Vic and Hugh Redington)

Vic and Hugh Redington

It is one of the oldest streets in Norwich, at varying times the city's richest thoroughfare and a street teeming with industry. Now the changing face of the King Street area has been captured in a new exhibition which will go on show in historic Dragon Hall next week.

Mixing archive films and photographs, the exhibition, Continuity and Change: A Picture of King Street, shows the living history of the King Street area over the past 100 years.

It evokes memories of the many breweries and pubs which were a feature of the street, along with the diverse range of businesses. including engineering, shipping and shops which rubbed shoulders with homes.

It also explores the heavy Second World War bombing of the area, the Argyle Street squatters of the 1980s and the recent revival of the area with new housing.

The exhibition will include archive films and photographs from yesteryear, alongside more recent images and recorded interviews with people who have lived and worked in the area through the past 100 years.

Continuity and Change is part of King Street Community Voices, an oral history and archive project aiming to record the stories and memories of people who have lived, worked and socialised in the area over the last century.

The area the project has looked at includes Bracondale, Ber Street, Rose Lane, the area between Rouen Road and the River Wensum, and from Carrow Bridge to Tombland.

Natasha Harlow, project manager, said: “The exhibition is a celebration at the end of the first year of the project, which has seen as interviewing people about their memories of the area.

“We’ve had some interesting stories. King Street was badly hit by bombing in the war. St Juilan Church was demolished and the local school was hit by an incendiary bomb, which the pupils were quite pleased about until they found out they had to travel to school in Thorpe instead.

“King Street has changed so much. In the 1970s and 1980s it was really derelict and was not a nice area to live in or work.

“It was a bit of a no-go area. But now there has been a lot of new building and, of course, Dragon Hall has been renovated.”

She said the area was once home to the likes of the Watney Mann Brewery, the AE Plumstead gas engineers factory, Boulton and Paul, and the Co-op shoe factory, which was in Mountergate.

She added: “The area was always had a mix of businesses and houses, but it also used to have a lot of pubs. The Ferry Boat closed not long ago, but other ones included The Jolly Maltsters, The Kingsway, The Old Barge Inn and The Cellar House.

“People didn’t used to have so much to keep them entertained at home, so they would socialise more. That’s what we’re trying to do at Dragon Hall, become a place where people who live around here can come and meet their neighbours.”

The exhibition, which can be seen at Dragon Hall from Tuesday until Thursday, March 31, is presented in conjunction with the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society. It includes contributions from the East Anglian Film Archive and photographer Richard Denyer, amongst others.

There are two talks linked to the exhibition. King Street’s Working Past is an illustrated talk in Dragon Hall at 1pm on Thursday, March 31 from the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society.

It looks at the breweries, heavy engineering, food manufacturers, shipping and shops which were based in King Street over the past century.

Working Lives Remembered at Charing Cross Centre, St John Maddermarket at 7.30pm on Thursday, April 7, will be given by Natasha Harlow.

It will focus on how major changes in the area affected the way people lived. A photography competition is also running alongside the exhibition, focusing on pictures of how the King Street area looks now.

Full details are available at www.dragonhall.org or by calling 01603 663922.

Visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk to hear audio clips of people talking about their memories of King Street through the years.

Irene Robbins interviewed by Lucinda Smyth

Robert Want interviewed by Carolina Ocampo

Ron Borrett interviewed by Maria Connor

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