History of the City of Norwich

Page 4 - From 1804 to 2001AD

Page 1 - 520 to 1272
Page 2
- 1297 to 1583
Page 3
- 1578 to 1797

1804. Jeremiah Colman moved from Bawburgh to Stoke Holy Cross in Norwich and bought a mill that had first been used to make flour and then to manufacture paper. By 1814 he had converted it into a crusher of mustard seed and began producing his famous mustard. When Colman died, the business was taken over by his nephew, Jeremiah James Colman, who moved into the centre of Norwich to be nearer the new railway. The new Colman works at Carrow was opened in 1856

1805. Admiral Lord Nelson dies whilst defeating the French and Spanish fleets.

1806. An act of parliament formed a body of men called the Improvement Commissioners who had powers to pave, clean and light the streets. 

1807. Slave trading was abolished and slavery itself in 1833.

1820. George III died and George IV was crowned king.

1822. Norwich city centre was being illuminated by nine hundred oil lamps.

1820. The worsted cloth industry started to decline.

1823. Jarrolds come to Norwich and start a print shop in London Street.

1828. a. Castle Keep turned into a prison.
          b. Bridewell changed from a prison into tobacco and snuff factory.

1830. The lower part of the Castle Keep was resurfaced in dressed stone rather than faced flint which had formed its previous facade.

1830. George IV died and William IV was crowned king.

1834. "The miseries of starvation and poverty makes us quite tired of our native land" wrote a petitioner to the Poor Law Commissioners in London: this led subsequently to an amendment to The Poor Law Act which enabled local parishes to borrow money and help skilled and poor people to emigrate to the British colonies. The cause of this surplus of labour was the Enclosure Act which had driven many people off their land; and also the introduction of farming machinery, which left only the workhouse for the able bodied unemployed workers to survive.

1836. The first police force in Norwich was formed.

1837. Construction of the Eastern Counties Railway Line started at the London end. Construction should also have started at the Norfolk end, but disputes in the purchase of land prevented it, and finally stopped it. 1839. Railway building stopped at Colchester as the company waited for more investment.

1837. William IV died and Victoria was crowned queen.

 1840. The Market place





1840. a. A penny postage stamp is introduced for the delivery of letters.
          b. Only hawkers, labourers, chimney sweeps and husbandmen were in general illiterate.

1843. A massive hail storm hit Norwich, flooded the entire city, and covered the streets with 5 inches (12cm) of hail stones! This led to the formation of the General Hailstorm Society, an insurance company that later merged with Norwich Union Insurance.

1843 A railway line was constructed from Norwich to Yarmouth by Messrs Grissell and Petro with R Stephenson responsible for tunnels and bridges.

1844. a. The forebears of the Colman, Copeman and Tillett families founded the original Norfolk News, which was the progenitor of the Eastern Daily Press and Eastern Evening News.
          b. In Norwich only 13% illiterate.

1849. The railway line from London to Norwich was completed, and the railway station 'Victoria' in Norwich was opened: the land having been obtained by the purchase of St Stephen's Gate post-mill. 1916. Station closed to passengers. 1966. Station being used as a coal depot - closed.

1850s. The council built a pure water supply.

1850s. 'If you went to a public hanging in Norwich in the 1850's you would have had to get up very early in the morning; when there was a cold nip in the air. This left no time to have breakfast and by the time you had walked to the castle you were very very hungry. However, a little old bloke from Ber Street with a handcart carrying a tray on top of a charcoal fire always attended these public gathering, and the smell from his roasting potatoes used to be a smell you could never forget. If a mother took her baby to these hanging she usually dressed the child in long clothes, it was believed that the child would grow up and not be convicted of a hanging offence. Some mothers kept their children in long clothes until the next hanging was due'.

1853. A young man was taken ill and his sweetheart was sent for by electric telegraph. To send or receive a telegram was considered to be a very serious step and was looked upon with dread as a conveyor of evil tidings.

1857. The first public library opened.

1860. a. The first horseless carriage was built. A four wheeled petrol driven Daimler capable of 12 mph / 19 km/h
          b. Leather sewing machines being installed in Norwich factories. Necessitating the women and children who normally worked at home, moving into the factories to sew the uppers and lining (closing) of shoes together. The heavy sole stitching continued to be done by men (garrett masters) in their homes.

1861. The 'Corn Exchange' was built. A fine building situated at the junction of Exchange Street and Bedford Street. It was demolished in 1964.

1861. Population of Norwich 36,000.

1865 - 1915. Edith Cavell. Born in Swardesdon, having been taught her nursing skills in London, became a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium which was subsequently occupied by the Germans in the first world war. Whilst working as a nurse she helped Belgian, French and British soldiers to escape back to England; she was caught and shot in 1915. Her grave is situated at the side of Norwich cathedral. A statue to her is positioned in front of the cathedral in Tombland.

1868. a. The governments display of hung felons in cages and on gibbets in public was stopped, as it was having no deterrent on crime.
          b. Shoes: estimation puts 6000 employed producing 24,000 pairs of shoes a week.

1870s. They built a network of sewers and also paved Cockey Lane, Little Cockey Lane and London Lane (London Street) cost £2040.

1874. Bicycling which originated in France had improved. This new machine had rubber tyres, was noiseless and could do up to fifteen miles per hour. The best thing however was that unlike the normal method of transport it didn't have to be fed.

1877. Clearance of the slums was started.

1879. The first horse drawn bus service was started. However, until the arrival of the tram, most people walked to work.

1880. An iron pavilion obtained from an overseas exhibition was erected in Chapelfield Gardens; it became unsafe and was removed in 1949. It was replaced by a thatched shelter which was later converted into a tea room that subsequently became Pedro's restaurant.

1880. Chapelfield Gardens was officially opened by Mayor Bullard.

1884. The foundation stone of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist was laid by Bishop Riddell. The cathedral was completed in 1910.

1887. Norwich Corporation bought the castle and converted the 'Keep' and most of the other buildings into a museum and art gallery.

1893. The Norwich Electricity Company began supplying electricity to Norwich using steam power to drive two 110v Norwich type dynamos, supplied by Lawrence Scott Company in Norwich. This supplied between 230 and 250v DC for factories or 110v DC for domestic purposes. Off peak, one dynamo was used to charge batteries which were used as a standby power source.

 In 19th Century Norwich, Ber Street was the centre of the building trade. It was such a violent and disreputable area that the police simply sealed off both ends of the street and left the inhabitants to their own devices!

During the 19th Century steam was the main driving force in our factories. To provide this power, Norwich was a forest of coal burning chimneys belching out smoke from it's furnaces. During this period of time Norwich was a dirty old city generating in winter some really thick fogs.

1897. Strike by the National Union of Boot & Shoe Operatives for a minimum wage, a fifty four hour working week and a constraint on employers in the use of cheap boy labourers, lasted for thirty four weeks - very little gained.

1899. The Royal Arcade was built. Photo.

1900. a. Many of the narrow streets widened to enable the laying of tramlines. Trams provided, had specially short wheelbases to enable them to get around sharp corners. A terminus for the trams was laid out in Orford Place.
Bridewell (a prison) taken over by Thomas Bowhill and turned into a shoe factory specialising in children's shoes. 1920s. The factory moved to Heigham Street and The Bridewell building was bought by Henry Nicholas Holmes who together with other shoe makers turned it into a museum of local industries.
          c. Larger sewers were laid for the increased population; it having increased to over 100,000.

1901.Queen Victoria died and Edward VII crowned king.

1910. The building of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist was completed and blessed by Bishop Keating.

1910. Edward VII died and George V was crowned king.

1910. Shoemaking has now changed from hand made to factory based machine work.

1914/18. The First World War: Seventy eight British generals and thousands of young men from the region died fighting overseas. Some, from quiet villages, having seen their friends blown to pieces in the constant barrage from enemy guns had to wait for the order to leave the trenches and subsequently walk into scything machine gun fire. Some suffering from extreme trauma could not leave the trenches. They were shot by a firing squad, despite their having had the courage to volunteer for a task which proved to be most peoples worst nightmare. On Nov 11th 1918 at 11am an armistice halts all fighting on the Western Front. (Finally, in 2006 all soldiers shot for cowardice have been pardoned.)

1920. Shoe exports difficult as previous importers now making shoes. With a need to sell to the home market 'marketing logos' were needed. Thus, Howlett & White became 'Norvic', and after the second world war James Southall & Co became 'Start-rite etc.

1936. George V died, Edward VIII was uncrowned, George VI was crowned king.

1938. A new city hall building was completed.

1939/45. Norwich at war. Three hundred and forty Norwich people were killed and over 30,000 of the 35,000 houses were damaged, 2,000 beyond repair

Royal Air Force - 55,000 airmen died in Bomber Command - there is no memorial to them in the UK(2009)..

Many more Norwich and Norfolk members of the armed forces and citizens (some serving in the Merchant Navy on supply ships) died, whose valour was not known, but, whose heroism was undeniable. The English nation has still to recognise the Merchant Navy for their 38,000 lives in providing food and materials to this and other allied countries. Malta GC - Merchant Navy 1940-44 GC?. Note: sixty years later in late 2005 the survivors of the Atlantic/artic run have been given permission by our Ministry of Defence, to wear a small silver star with a small orb in the centre. This, designed by a survivor, is allowed to be attached to one of their medals. 26th May 2013 a final recognition of the sailors who gave their lives survivors and next of kin was held in Liverpool attended by the Princess Royal. A medal 'The Artic Star' is in production.

Of the American servicemen assigned to this region 6,700 young Americans of  the 2nd Air Division of the United States Eighth Air Force died in action flying from local air fields.

1943. Tommy Flowers a post office engineer finished building the 'Colossus'; a programmable computer using 1500 electronic valves. It needed one thousand pounds of Tommy Flowers own money to be completed. It was used primarily as a code breaker. A mark two Colossus was built using 2400 electronic valves and then after the war at least eight or possibly the entire ten machines were destroyed to maintain secrecy!!! Information about 'Colossus' was given to the Americans as part of our war loan. The information about Tommy Flowers was finally revealed to the British public by a request for it under the American Freedom of Information Act in 1970.

1944, a crew training in thick fog hit the flagpole on St Phillip’s Church, Heigham Road, Norwich. The pilot, Second Lt. Ralph Dooley, flying low over rooftops and desperately struggling to avoid landing on the houses below, eventually crashed on waste ground near Barker Street. All the crew perished, but their heroism in saving civilian lives was recognized by local residents who erected a memorial plaque that can still be seen today. 'Barker Street Memorial'.

1952. George VI died and Elizabeth II was crowned queen.

1962. St. Stephens Street was widened.

1965. The workers in Norwich shoe factories manufactured eight million pairs of shoes.

1972. We join the European Common Market.

1981. The idea for a central shopping mall in Norwich was born. The council in owning most of the land pushed very hard for investment, in what was an unusual building.  Patricia Hollis (now Baroness Hollis of Heigham) then leader of the City Council, was a strong supporter of the project.

1983. St Peter Mancroft's Octagon was built in the south churchyard.

1988. A formal agreement to build the Castle Mall (a below and above ground shopping complex) was signed and work started on removing 8000 tons of material for the shopping and car parking area, and then on the importing of 10,500 tons of soil for a new park situated adjacent to the Castle. The park can be accessed from the upper level of the Mall shopping complex.

1990. Norwich Southern Bypass and Slip Roads were being constructed.

1993. Castle Mall, a partially underground shopping precinct adjacent to the castle opened to the public. It cost in total £145 million pounds to build.

2000. A new building to be called 'The Forum'  is under construction, it is situated adjacent to the City Hall and St. Peter Mancroft's church.

2001. The new 'Forum' is opened on the 1st November 2001. The building houses the Public Library, the American Memorial Library, the Norwich Information Centre, BBC East, a cafe and a public exhibition space.

2010. Our last shoe maker The Florida Group which owns Norwich shoe brand Van Dal had a 29% rise in turnover in the first six months of this year.

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