Shuttles Ghost © Nick Stone 2013

This is Botolph Street in 1938 taken by George Plunkett and in 2013 when Botolph Street doesn’t really exist, its path altered and it’s name changed to New Botolph Street, almost just a bus lane and a way of gyrating the traffic around in an ever confusing manner around the stale old buildings of Anglia Square. The last vestiges were removed in the early 1970s as our tidal wave of time surged towards hoverboards and jetpack ownership for all on the back of the mini and the beatles and LSD (if you believe popular social history) then stumbled in the mid 1970s over strikes, powercuts and uncollected rubbish, condemning us all to driving cars filled with expensive world choking petrol to shopping centres with “ample parking”, We have three such shopping centres in Norwich, Chapelfield, Castle Mall and Anglia Square. Anglia Square was da bomb in 1971, filled with wonders, but sat on what was once Botolph street crushing the life out of it. Pity as it was a nice but down at heel street with a beautiful old Odeon on it and a maze of residential streets and alleys around it with shops dotted about. It now has a car park and a rotting office block and some pound shops and too many cars driving too fast stuck in the Scalextrix groove of our beloved one-way system. This will of course all be redeveloped into something else I probably won’t like very much either at some point. I thought it was bound to happen about four years ago but developers don’t spend money on communities they spend them on making more money, so we’re stuck with HMSO’s fat bottom squeezing the life out of the area for a while longer as it gradually sheds every tile and brick onto the cracked tarmac below. I’ve reached the point where I just want to see it developed BEFORE I DIE OF OLD AGE. because it’s ugly, run down faecal mess.

In the middle of this picture is another pub, The Britannia, which shut in 1936. Given the fact that there must be at least another five pubs between here and Stump Cross on Magdalen Street I suppose it’s unlikely that they’d all survive indefinitely.

Next door is Oxburys in one of its incarnations, earlier than the one I remember that inhabited the building that is now PMT; an award winningly badly named music shop. Oxburys was the sort of place where you could buy a pound of screws, or an ounce of tin tacks, or a claw hammer that lasted a lifetime and didn’t bend when you tried to take a nail out, bit like Thorns or Blyth and Wrights which are mercifully still open thus preventing us all dying from death by chain store profusion. I have a vague memory that Oxbury’s burnt down in the 1990s, meaning I had to go to Bee ‘n’ Coo or Humbase to buy bags of expensive nails instead of ounces of cheap ones.

Below is The Shuttles pub also known as the Three Shuttles and formerly the Weavers Arms, Shuttles presumably relates to the weaving thing. This fits with this bit of the city, the provision of the river nearby by the terrain meant it has a history of washing, tramping and weaving generally. The name may well predate the list of licenses, so there could have been a Weavers Arms here before that, but the first listing is 1760 to Thomas Gilmer, himself a Worsted weaver. It called last orders on the 11th of July 1960, remained boarded up for a while and was knocked down to make way for the new development, or in reality is the corner of a car park next to a big soil berm formed to poison Knotweed about five years ago, which is still there now studded with broken bottles, nice.

Shuttles Ghost 2 © Nick Stone 2013

Original Photos used with the kind permission of Jonathan Plunket from the George Plunkett collection. (The Shuttles was licensed to a Plunkett too in 1851 – nice)