Photo gallery: Sought-after setting made a fine street for a Fine City

Bracondale and King Street junction

Bracondale and King Street junction - Credit: Archant

For many it is a busy entrance or departure point from Norwich – a road overlooked by a collection of grand and attractive houses built over the centuries.

So many of the motorists, or passengers on buses, get a glimpse of these buildings before moving on.

But there is far more to bold Bracondale than a road which now serves as one of the main routes to and from the city. This is a community with a fascinating history.

It is one with a great story to tell and now members of the Bracondale Residents' Association have pieced together the life and times of this unique part of Norwich.

Bracondale: Stories from a Norwich Street is a book which will appeal to anyone interested in the city or county... and in my opinion is one of the best books of its kind to be published in recent times.

It has been researched and collated by the Bracondale History Group and edited by Edward Bulpett, Rosemary Duff and Pam Fielder. It is an example of community spirit at its best.

There is a common flow from all the contributors. You can tell they have such affection for their surroundings.

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Packed with stories, pictures, maps, illustrations, facts and figures, weird and wonderful yarns, the book is a work of art – and one all those involved can be proud of.

Turn the pages and we are introduced to some of the extraordinary characters who have lived, worked or played in Bracondale over the centuries.

From members of the Colman family to Alfred Warminger, the waste paper king, and the much-missed Hereward Cooke, the councillor/clergyman, pictured below, who died in 2009, to a fistful of Lord Mayors and Sheriffs, people from all walks of life have called Bracondale home over the years.

Now the residents of the 21st century have come together to tell the story of a part of Norwich which has, by and large, survived while other areas, such as the nearby community between Ber Street and King Street have been destroyed. And new developments tend to blend in well with old. The old school site being a prime example.

The rivers are our lifeblood and there is evidence of a bridge being in place over the Yare at Trowse by 1119. In those days people living in the countryside would have to cross the river to get into the city. It is likely a track would have become established up the hillside through bracken and brakes, which gives Bracondale its name, to link the city with the Trowse river bridge.

It is known that Sir Nicholas Chapel was built on the hill during the reign of William 1 (1066-1087) and much frequented by fishermen and watermen. The Benedictine nunnery of Carrow was set up in 1146. Norwich became a walled city and by 1556 Bracondale was brought into the boundaries of the County of the City of Norwich.

The development of Bracondale really started in the 1800s after the city gates were removed. Wealthy businessmen realised the potential of the location. It was healthy on the hill and many of the beautiful houses that still stand proud were built.

In 19th century sales catalogues Bracondale properties were described as having 'large gardens, coach houses, stables and servants quarters. With the great advantage of an airy and genteel situation at a distance not exceeding a ten minute walk from the Norwich market place.'

But times were changing and the mustard people were on their way. In 1851 Colmans moved their factory from Stoke Holy Cross to a plot of land down the hill owned by the railways. A wise move and one which would led to the creation of a world-famous factory which would provide work for thousands of people.

Bracondale became a desirable place for housing the management and workers required to run this huge operation. Many houses, including the majestic school on Carrow Hill, the now-doomed cricket pavilion at Lakenham, were built by the family.

In the 20th century Bracondale flourished and was given Conservation Area status for its historical and architectural interest.

Turn the pages of this glossy new book and the people and places of Bracondale spring to life. It is another publication supported by HEART and the Harry Watson Bursary. We have much to thank them for.

Bracondale: stories from a Norwich street is on sale in Jarrold and the City Bookshop, Davey Place, at £12.99. It is published by the Bracondale Residents Association.