Saturday, 1 June 2013

The secret views from Thorpe Hamlet

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IT’S been a dodgy old spring. So when there is the promise of soft, evening sunlight, you simply have to seize the moment. I’ve been rooting around in Thorpe Hamlet for a while now, researching what I think is one of Norwich’s most under-rated suburbs. Take Beatrice Road (pictured below) for  example, it ain’t this leafy in the Golden Triangle.

Beatrice Road

But its great secret is the view (see main picture). Perched on the only high ground, many lucky residents have stunning panoramas of the cathedral and the city beneath them.

And then there are the very un-Norwich like gradients. The steep slopes put off the developers until the mid-19th century. Until then much of the land was part of a much broader Mousehold Heath. Even the name “Thorpe Hamlet” didn’t exist. But when a gas works was built on one end of the escarpment and a railway station arrived at the foot of the other end, things changed quickly.

Hamlet Houses

In the words of the Hamlet’s historian Geoffrey Goreham, the builders “saw in the chalk slopes and tree-covered valleys a challenge for their ingenuity.” For the most part those terraced houses endure one hundred years later.

Just finally on Beatrice Road. How many residents know that Beatrice, Florence, Ethel, Ella, Marion and Primrose Roads were named after the six daughters of a wealthy solicitor Isaac Bugg Coaks who bought this land in the late 19th century? After a supposedly worthy career he was struck off in the 1890s for defrauding his clients.

The reputation of his houses has lasted rather longer.

1 comment:

  1. When we first moved to Norwich back in the early 1980's, we rented a flat in a large house in Thorpe Hamlet, from memory it was 149 Thorpe Road which, we were told by the owner, was the first house build on that road, for a judge although not sure when.