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From Alefounders to Archers, the stories behind these Norwich yards

PUBLISHED: 14:02 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:05 22 March 2017

Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932. Girl in the white woolly hat is Ivy Pope. 
Courtesy of Alan Robinson.

Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932. Girl in the white woolly hat is Ivy Pope. Courtesy of Alan Robinson.

Courtesy of Alan Robinson

Most of the courts and yards which criss-crossed Norwich of old have gone...but the memories live on.

Archers Yard. Photo: Philip Armes.Archers Yard. Photo: Philip Armes.

Thanks for all your calls and letters following our stories about the names, how they came about and the characters who lived in these communities.

Alan Robinson read our story about Abbey Lane, off King Street, and sent us these pictures which illustrate so well how people knew how to enjoy themselves.

His late mother Ivy Pope grew up in Abbey Lane along with the likes of Bill (Norwich in Bloom) Webster and one of our pictures shows carnival day in 1932 and Ivy with her mum and dad.

Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932.  Courtesy of Alan Robinson.Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932. Courtesy of Alan Robinson.

Today, Abbey Lane is still there, but the people have long gone.

At the turn of the 20th century more than 10 per cent of the city’s population lived in the courts and yards.

They did struggle to survive, some shared water pumps and grim outside loos, but they were proud people with polished door steps and “Brassoed” door knobs and knockers.

Addisons Yard off Magdalen Street. Photos: Philip Armes.Addisons Yard off Magdalen Street. Photos: Philip Armes.

We have only just started our journey through the streets of Norwich, but what glorious names they had – often remembering local characters and the work they did.

Beginning with A, here are three pictures from Philip Armes which appear in the bestseller The Old Courts and Yards of Norwich by Frances and Michael Holmes.

Alefounders Yard off Browne’s Yard in Westwick Street was named after a pub and was lost in the Second World War.

Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932. Courtesy of Alan Robinson.Abbey Lane Carnival Day in 1932. Courtesy of Alan Robinson.

Addisons Yard in Magdalen Street was where Benjamin Addison, carpenter and wheelwright lived. It survived until the 1960s.

Archer’s Yard, Muspole Street, thought to have been named after engineer and boiler maker John C Archer. This went in the 1930s.

Other yards beginning with A included Alden’s Court/Yard off Ber Street named after Chas Alden, boot and last maker. This was lost way back in the 1890s. There was another Alden’s Court on St Stephen’s Plain named after 18th century tin plate worker Robert Alden.

Alefounders Yard off Westwick Street 80 years ago. Photo: Philip Armes.Alefounders Yard off Westwick Street 80 years ago. Photo: Philip Armes.

Then there was Atkinson’s Yard, formerly Newbiggin Yard, at St Mary’s Plain, which was named after rag merchant Thomas Atkinson. It was flattened to make way for Sexton’s shoe factory.

We will continue our journey along the old highways and byways of Norwich looking at their history and how the names came about, meeting some great characters along the way.


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