Homes worth spending a night in the cold for.

It was almost 40 years ago when people were queuing up to buy a home where the Bally shoe factory once stood.

Tot of Brandy? It was in October of 1974 when people were staging an all-night vigil outside an estate agents in Norwich.

And all because of the shoemakers moving out of the city centre.

Today a row surrounds the future of the old Bally factory site on Hall Road now that plans to build a superstore on the site have been rejected – more than 40 years after the original factory bit the dust in Queen Street/Princes Street.

The world-famous footwear company, had been around since 1799 – a time when the city centre was full of factories – shoe factory and breweries were among the biggest.

The Bally factory employed hundreds of people, but they ran out of space and invested in a purpose-built high-tech �500,000 unit on a seven-and-a-half acre site where they could expand.

But what to do with the old factory which sat on an important and historic piece of land between Princes Street, Queen Street and Tombland?

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To begin with, in 1964, the council, which bought the site for around �200,000, came up with a scheme to build a multi-storey car park.

The city fathers eventually changed their minds and a few years later builders and developers RG Carter unveiled an ambitious �500,000 scheme – it won a competition – designed by Norwich architects Edward Skipper and Associates which included 27 homes and flats along with shops and offices

The scheme, built on a site where shoes were made for 170 years, was described by Mr Skipper as 'shoe-horn architecture.'

The Evening News said, back in 1971, this was a local enterprise, designed by people with genuine feeling for the character of Norwich.

Three years later people were queuing to put deposits on the new maisonettes and flats at St Michael at Plea which were part of the scheme.

There were a total of 27 properties with prices ranging from �7,950 to �12,750.

The small group formed outside Alan Ebbage and Partners.

The first person to arrive at 4.45pm for the office to open at 9am the next day was Pauline Dann, then Norfolk's physical education adviser, and living in rented accommodation in Earlham Road.

'I want to buy a flat of my own. It's worthwhile spending a night out in the cold for years of investment,' she said.

Soon afterwards Evan and Heather Adams arrived. He was market director at Boulton & Paul and wanted a city-centre home.

Then John Dickinson and some more people arrived.

A welcome visitor was Alan Churchyard of Alan Ebbage, who popped up with a bottle of brandy to chase away the cold night air.

I wonder what happened to the people buying those new homes almost 40 years ago? If you're one of them drop me a line at