How Thorpe went from a village to a town over a century

Black and white photos of builders in the 1930s/1940s/1950s/1960s

Building firm Stevenson and Evans, which built houses on Hillcrest Road, Thunder Lane, and the Primrose Estate between circa 1950 - Credit: SUPPLIED BY DALE WISEMAN

For more than a decade, the site of a former sports centre on the outskirts of Norwich has remained vacant. 

Now fresh plans to develop the former Pinebanks site are on the cards.

Proposals would see up to 725 new homes being built across this site, as well as other vacant sites in the area which include Griffin Lane, the former Langley Preparatory School site, Brook Farm, and areas of Thorpe woods.

EAW001964 ENGLAND (1946). Spinney Road and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001964 ENGLAND (1946). Spinney Road and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

But this is not the first time Thorpe St Andrew has been the subject of a huge surge in development.

Before 1900, the village, which took on town status in 2006, was confined to the Yarmouth Road area but after the First World War there was a steady rise in development on Thunder Lane, known as Upper Thorpe.

From 1930, there was a building boom of large houses along Spinney Close, Hillcrest Road, and the Plumstead estates, which went on until the 1960s.

EAW001965 ENGLAND (1946). Spinney Road and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001965 ENGLAND (1946). Spinney Road and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND


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Building work resumed in earnest in 1946, following the end of the Second World War. During this time Broome Avenue, off Gorse Road, had not yet been planned until the site devoted to St. William’s Primary School had been defined.

The bulk of the building during the 1930s and 1940s was carried out by two family firms: The Caston family and the Fisher family.

A Caston and Sons-built semi-detached house, circa 1950

A Caston and Sons semi-detached house, built circa 1950 - Credit: SUPPLIED BY DALE WISEMAN

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Dale Wiseman, of Acacia Road, and committee member of Thorpe History Group, explained how the area had developed in more recent times.

He said: “I feel Thorpe is no different to Costessey, Rackheath, Sprowston, or Blofield which are all seeing big developments.

“The next big changes are about to happen with the Pinebanks site, Belmore Road, and Harrison’s Wood area developments - which I believe are all on greenfield sites.”

County councillor for Thorpe St Andrew Ian Mackie was among the litter pick volunteers on Saturday.

County councillor for Thorpe St Andrew, Ian Mackie - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Norfolk county councillor for Thorpe St Andrew, Ian Mackie, said that the building plans had not been direct growth as they had been 10 years in the making.

“The last big development was Dussindale in the early 1990s,” he added.

EAW001966 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001966 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

“For many years now, a number of significant developments have been part of the projected growth of the area. None of these have yet started, but they must all provide the infrastructure to support them before they start.

"There is demand for homes, especially first-time buyers who wish to stay in the area, so it’s always going to be a balance to get it right.”

EAW001967 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001967 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

EAW001968 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001968 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946. This image was marked by Aerofilms Ltd for photo editing. - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

EAW001969 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001969 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

EAW001970 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001970 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

EAW001971 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946

Britain from Above / EAW001971 ENGLAND (1946). The Cottage Public House and environs, Thorpe St Andrew, 1946 - Credit: HISTORIC ENGLAND

Pinebanks in Thorpe St Andrew.
Taken by Mike Page.

Pinebanks in Thorpe St Andrew in 2009 - Credit: Mike Page

Aerial view of a beautiful East Anglian autumn. Pictured: Thorpe St Andrew and Jenners Basin on the

Thorpe St Andrew and Jenners Basin on the island in 2017 - Credit: Mike Page


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