Culture Shock: Anniversaries worth noting for our Fine City next year

Norwich Guildhall is about to celebrate its 600th anniversary, having been built mostly between 1407

Norwich Guildhall is about to celebrate its 600th anniversary, having been built mostly between 1407 and 1413 Photo: Bill SmithCopy: Jon WelchFor: EDPArchant © 2007(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2007

The biggest, perhaps, is one of the oldest food brands in the world, the largest producer of mustard in the UK and the originator of the country's only mustard shop and museum.

Michael Loveday in the council chamber at Norwich Guildhall, which dates from 1408. Photo: Bill Smit

Michael Loveday in the council chamber at Norwich Guildhall, which dates from 1408. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant

When asked to do a monthly piece for the paper I felt that, subject-wise, culture in all its forms was a given but I also wanted to surprise or intrigue readers, by delivering astonishing revelations, and also to challenge their views of culture and the local area.

I chortled a bit at Rowan Mantell's curtain-raiser on me in November and particularly her leg-pulling about my obsession with the vast array of superlatives that the city and county can lay claim to. I've been a member of the Executive Committee of the Historic Towns Forum for many years and in an effort to inject some objectivity into my assertive claims, I challenged the historic towns of England which constitute the 'main opposition' to 'out superlative' Norwich if they could but they couldn't.

So I thought that it might be an interesting start to my career as a columnist, not to assault readers with a battery of most medieval churches or undercrofts, pioneers in literature or weird and wonderful inventions but rather to be a little more surgical and focused. With 2014 just on the horizon, therefore, I thought I'd intrigue readers with some superlative birthdays over the coming year.

The biggest, perhaps, is one of the oldest food brands in the world, the largest producer of mustard in the UK and the originator of the country's only mustard shop and museum. Colman's is 200 years old in May and within that overall 'birthday envelope' we've discover a whole range of mini birthdays including 150th anniversary of the company's introduction of the World's first industrial nurse, the 110th anniversary of their support for Scott's Discovery expedition and the 66th anniversary of the arrival of Colonel Mustard on the Cluedo board!


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Not as big but considerably older is the 600th anniversary of The Guildhall. The largest and most elaborate medieval English city hall was structurally complete by 1413 but fitted out and complete for occupation in the following year. Again there is a range of mini birthdays associated with the building including the 610th anniversary of the Charter of Henry IV which gave the City new privileges and status.

2014 also sees the 20th anniversary of the closure of the old Caley, then Rowntree Macintosh, chocolate factory but also the 110th anniversary of the takeover of St James Mill by Caleys to produce Christmas crackers.

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150 years ago next year, Thomas Bignold took over the world's first insurance company (the Amicable) and 110 years ago its spanking new offices opened in Surrey House.

2014 sees the celebration of notable arrivals including the 200th anniversary of the city's first department store, Chamberlins, the 100th anniversary of the youngest ever elected local councillor, Arthur South, later to become Norwich City Council Leader and Chairman of the Football Club and the establishment, in 1964, of Lotus at Hethel – not only one of the iconic sports car brands of the last half century but one of the all-time great F1 teams. 2014 also sees anniversaries of sad departures including the 50th birthday of the loss of the Hippodrome, the Firs Stadium and the Corn Exchange, home in its time to everything from the music of great composers to the sound of boxers hitting the canvas, and the death of Dorothy Jewson, the city's first female MP and one of the first in the country.

And we even have a UK first – the pilot of the first postcode system was trialled in Norwich 55 years ago and the initiative was introduced across the UK 40 years ago.

Finally, HEART has its own modest anniversaries too. We are ten years old in 2014 and we will also be delivering the 10th HEART co-ordinated Norwich and Norfolk Heritage Open Days (HODs), which, we hope, will be the grandest so far, particularly because this will be the 20th anniversary of HODs in the UK.

What we'd love you to do is to add to this modest list and tell us about any momentous anniversaries that you know of and help HEART, Norwich and Norfolk to celebrate a momentous year – let us know at info@heritagecity.org. Micahel Loveday is chief executive for Norwich HEART.

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