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Welcome to Norwich - in the 1950s

PUBLISHED: 15:55 18 September 2012

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Archant

From rationing to the arrival of the consumer society. A new book tells the story of a decade which changed a city.

This was how Norwich advertised itself in the 1950s – from financial institutions to shoe-making and from breweries to chocolate production – it was a city which offered so much.

There were plenty of jobs around on the office and factory floors in a Norwich which was being redeveloped and rebuilt following the Second World War.

And if you fancied outside work there were numerous opportunities on the building sites, large and small, across a city which was changing beyond all recognition.

Pete Goodrum’s new book – Norwich in the 1950s – looks at the decade of extraordinary change as roads and buildings were tumbling down to make way for a brave new world.

Back then Norwich was a thriving manufacturing city, making world-class products with household names.

“Norwich Union,” writes Pete, “has been an essential part of the Norwich story and the growth of their head office is directly linked to some of the visible changes to the city.”

When St Stephens was redeveloped the new buildings were constructed behind the existing frontages so when they came down the street changed, almost overnight.

In 1952, the city had about 10,000 people working in shoe manufacturing. That was the year when Southall’s made a decision which would change the history of shoe making.

It decided to start making shoes for adults and to concentrate on the Start-rite brand for children. The Start-rite “twins” arrived and millions of people loved them, including members of the Royal family – the company was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1955.

The list of shoe manufacturers in the city is impressive and included Howlett & White, Norvic, Bally, Sexton, Son & Everard, Meadow and Van Dal – the great survivor which has just celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Hundreds of men and women worked in the big brewery business, many for either Bullards or Steward & Patteson.

The former aircraft maker Boulton & Paul had moved on to making a range of other products from its Riverside Works, but employed hundreds of people along with the last manufacturing giant, Lawrence, Scott & Electromotors.

And then of course there was, and still is, Carrow Works, the home of Colman’s.

“The Carrow Works were a self-contained institution. The philanthropic ideals of the founder remained intact as the company expanded and diversified,” writes Pete.

“Colman’s was perhaps the best example of a company where entire families worked, often more than one generation.

“The mustards are world famous and the food and drink ranges, such as Robinsons, are household names to this day.”

And, if you were about in the 1950s, you may remember a rather special smell, which would sometimes waft across the city – chocolate.

Caleys of Chapelfield played a leading role in the life of the city for such a long time. Although it became known as Mackintosh’s and Nestle following mergers, for some it will always remain Caleys.

And their advertisements were quite beautiful. A young Alfred Munnings designed some of the early ones.

The very first Rolo was made in Norwich in 1932. The factory was rebuilt after it was bombed in the Second World War and in the 1950s Munchies, Week-End, Quality Street, Caramac and many other delights came along. The famous 1959 FA Cup run gave advertisers the chance to both congratulate the Canaries on their giant-killing – and promote their own products as you can see from this selection of adverts.

Norwich in the 1950s by Pete Goodrum is published by Amberley at £14.99.

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