What’s in a street name? The stories behind the naming of some of Norwich’s roads
PUBLISHED: 11:26 15 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:26 15 January 2015
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Yesterday we revealed how a city street was to be named after Sidney James Day, the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross. REBECCA MURPHY details Norfolk’s other famous sons and daughters who have been immortalised.
1. Bignold Road
Named after Sir Samuel Bignold, the son of Thomas Bignold who founded Norwich Union. Born in the Parish of St Laurence in 1791, Sir Samuel Bignold laid the foundation stone of the old Norwich Public Library, represented Norwich in Parliament from 1854 to 1857 and was Mayor of Norwich four times.
2. Blomefield Road
The Rev Francis Blomefield, born in Fersfield in 1705, was an historian and typographer. He compiled a history of Norfolk – spending more than £175 on journeys and manuscripts over 13 years. In 1739 the first volume of his book, An Essay Towards A Topographical History of Norfolk, was printed. He died of smallpox in 1752 while working on the third edition –the work was carried on by the Rev Charles Parkin, Rector of Oxborough, but he was not so accurate in his research.
3. Brooke Place
Born in India in 1803, Sir James Brooke ended up at the Norwich Grammar School after being sent to England to be educated. A Brooke ran away from school, and although was brought back by the headmaster, was forced to educate himself. By 1819 he was commissioned in the Bengal Army, and two years later, Lt Brooke was training a troop in the Indian cavalry at 19. Having gained a reputation as a soldier and he was persuaded to try and restore law and order to Sarawak off the coast of Borneo.
4. Bullard Road
Named after a larger-than-life character who was Sheriff, Mayor and MP for Norwich, Sir Harry Bullard was born into the family that established Anchor Brewery in 1811. He is remembered for his efforts to help those affected when the Wensum overflowed its banks and flooded much of Heigham – a poor area where thousands of families lived. He found shelter and food for the people and set up a relief fund with his own money.
5. Caley Close
It was the Caley family who brought mineral drinks and chocolate to Norfolk.
From a building in Chapel Field, Albert Jarman Caley and his son, Edward, made soda drinks, lemonade and ginger ale.
In 1883, he started making cocoa and chocolate, and when Albert retired in 1894, his other son Frederick, and nephews, Frederick and Stuart, took over the business.
Their mineral waters were famous, drunk by members of the Royal Family and by MPs in the Commons and by 1904, the firm was employing 700 people and their chocolates and crackers were being shipped all over the world.
They sold the business to John Mackintosh & Sons Ltd in 1931.
6. Elizabeth Fry Road
You will have seen her face on a £5 note – a Norwich woman, born on Magdalen Street, who devoted her life to helping others.
Fry is one of Norwich’s most famous daughters who campaigned for prison reform after witnessing the poor conditions that prisoners were subjected to.
She won many friends with her efforts – among them Queen Victoria – and advised MPs in the House of Commons on prison changes. She also talked to prison authorities across this country and in Europe.
7. George Borrow Road
The man who described Norwich as “A Fine City. The son of Thomas Borrow, a soldier in the West Norfolk Militia, and Ann Perfrement, the daughter of a farmer of Dumpling Green, Dereham, was born in 1803. He studied law, but languages and literature became his main interests and he moved to London, before heading further afield, living a wandering life as a tinker and horse dealer. Throughout his life he kept returning to Norwich and insisted that Norfolk was where “the people eat the best dumplings in the world, and speak the purest English”.
He wrote novels and travelogues based on his travels, and developed a close affinity with the Romany people.
8. Geoffrey Road
Geoffrey Colman was born at Bracondale Woods – where County Hall now stands – in 1892. The family ran the nearby Colman mustard empire. As a lad he was described as “rather heavy” and he had his own goat carriage in which he drove about in. At the age of six he carried out his first public duty by laying the foundation stone of the Jenny Lind Infirmary for Sick Children on land given by his grandfather. He loved nature, sport – especially cricket – and sailing. He was a director of this newspaper.
9. Gurney Road
Joseph John Gurney was born at Earlham Hall and was the brother of Elizabeth Fry. He was also a strong campaigner against capitol punishment. He was known for his efforts with the poor and distressed labourers and helped to provide food and fuel to thousands of Norwich families. He died in 1847 after not recovering from falling off his pony.
10. Goldwell Road
Named after Bishop James Goldwell a man who helped the building and rebuilding of Norwich Cathedral.
The cathedral was founded towards the end of the 11th century but was still being added to in the 15th century. Goldwell extended the stone vault to cover the presbytery, a revolutionary construction for its time.
He also rebuilt the spire which can be seen today.
11. Harmer Road
(also Harmer Close, Crescent and Lane). Named after the family which created the clothing company that employed Norwich residents for over a century. For more than 150 years Harmers ran in Norwich but in 1989 with the country was in recession, foreign competition increasing and a declining work-force the firm was forced to close its doors.
12. Kett’s Hill
In 1549 a group of peasants got together to protest against rich landowners who were taking common land and leaving the peasants to starve.
Farmer Robert Kett sympathises with the peasants and led them to Norwich, gathering people on the way, before arriving 20,000 strong in the City.
There was several weeks of fighting but the army eventually forced the rebels back. Thousands of men were killed and punishment for the survivors was swift and brutal.
Robert Kett and his brother William were taken to the Tower of London and convicted of high treason. William was hung at Wymondham and Robert at Norwich Castle.
13. Opie Street
Amelia Opie was novelist, poet, radical and philanthropist was born in Colegate in 1769. She wrote the book Adeline Mowbray in 1804 which was an exploration of women’s education, marriage and abolition of slavery.
The last years of her life were spent in a house on Castle Meadow with the street next to it named after her. She died at the age of 84 and was buried by the side of her father in the Friends cemetery at Gildencroft in Norwich.
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