Month: September 2014

Coasting: Winterton’s war

Yet more lumps of concrete, I doubt a the vast majority of people even give them a thought apart from trying not to scratch the car. Bit strange though, 13 ton blocks of concrete in a car park, and on the beach in one of those lovely little Norfolk corners. Winterton, like a lot of the Norfolk coast was a prime target for the imagined invasions of the war and these little babies are Anti Tank Blocks or ATBs, you’ll find them dotted about all over the place, there’s a least two at Thorpe for starters, some at Thetford,...

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Blitz Ghost: Alexandra Road and Helena Road

Alexandra Road, another Norwich Blitz Ghost. A 250kg bomb took out about 4 properties, quite a precise slice, which is still very evident if you look at the row today the missing block was replaced with a more modern variant of the generic terrace, a pattern you can see across most of the city, but particularly this area to the West along Dereham Road and the area along and around Aylsham Road, Patteson Road in particular. Little of the city actually escaped completely, it has been estimated that over 75 per cent of the housing stock was damaged in...

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Blitz Ghosts: St Benedicts Gate

On the 28th April 1942 this was the result of a 1000kg Hermann that burst on what is now the traffic lights at the bottom of Grapes Hill. The men aren’t short, they standing in the edge of a hole that was rather wide and very deep caused by the blast a Herman was about as big as the luftwaffe generally dropped, lacking the real grunt of the heavy bombers which where a facet of the RAF and USAAF, bearing in mind the slightly surreptitious way their bombers were developed as civilian aircraft due to restrictions on rearming, still...

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Blitz Ghost: St Bartholomew

One of the few real reminders of the blitz on Norwich that is easy to visit is the church of St Bartholomew, Heigham, Norwich, it’s quite easy to find sitting just of Heigham Street and Waterworks Road. On the night of the 27th of April 1942 when the first of the big raids came the North and West of the city were studded with similar sights, The attacks concentrated around the Site of City Station but fanned out along the Dereham Road, on such bomb found St Batholomew and burnt it out. You can see by the inclusion of...

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Blitz Ghosts – Rampant Horse Street

Seventy years on, plus a bit. The result of the second night of the main two raids 29th/30th April 1942, The fires are out, must be the modern rain. This is the scene that did for the Caleys factory the previous night, less so than Nestlé did years later admittedly. The flames jumped from Woolworths (Curls/Debenhams) which was hit by HE and incendiaries, and spread to the lower floors of Buntings (Marks & Sparks), it then spread again to the factory, imagine that smell of chocolate like in the 1980s and 1990s, Only magnified and a bit burnt. Rumour has...

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Blitz Ghost – St Andrews

This is Harmer’s Factory on St Andrews Broad Street in Norwich on the 18th March 1943 and the 2nd March 2012, almost seventy years., it’s also a weird bit of land with not much on it, sort of an entrance to a car park of sorts. Harmer’s was hit several times, firstly I believe on the second night of the Baedeker Raids, the 29th April 1942, which ripped it open and set it on fire, then once it had been more or less damped down it was hit again on the 1st May 1942, and caught fire again. The...

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Tom Brittan’s Blitz

In 2012, I received a few emails from a chap called Tom Brittan who now lives in France. I”ll let him recount his story pretty much unedited; he lived just off the Unthank road and vividly remembers the bombs falling and the aftermath. My most vivid recollection of the April 1942 Baedeker raids is the sight on emerging from our air raid shelter of a red sky lit up by clouds of burning pieces of textiles, probably from Curls and Buntings, blown by the wind in a southerly direction over our house and pharmacy on Unthank Road at the bottom of...

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Lost in a landscape: East Somerton

Norfolk is full of holes, little dells and corners, drives and pathways that sort of amble off in all directions vanishing over a rise or fading into a dark arch of trees. East Somerton is just one of those many little nooks that almost don’t exist, the past clinging on to the now, solid blocks sticking through the temporal landscape slowly being reclaimed by nature’s advances. It also has the advantage for those who like these shady corners being quite difficult to see. Simon Knott on his first visit commented that he didn’t spot it despite being parked right...

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Lost in a Landscape: Shipden

We are spoilt for lost villages in Norfolk and due to the nature of the coast have a huge number that weren’t down to the usual suspects, so not things like plague, pestilence or bad land for farming or landlords enclosing land or commons; moving sheep in to replace tenants as is the way with the ruling classes. As mentioned in the previous piece on Eccles juxta Mare, we lose villages to the sea, and have done fairly frequently in a reasonably well-documented fashion for the last thousand years. The Domesday Book, and various maps of the changing coast...

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