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Celebrating a century of Norwich council housing

100 years
Celebrating a century of Norwich council housing
Published on Monday, 28th October 2019

A commemoration of one hundred years since the first council house was built in the city begins this week, as residents are invited to look back across the history of this vital part of the city.  

The first council house in Norwich was built on Angel Road in October 1920, the beginning of the city’s proud commitment to social housing that has seen some of its newest homes at Goldsmith Street named ‘Britain’s Best New Building’.

Mile Cross was the first major estate to be born in the 1920s, followed by the Larkman and West Earlham estates in the 30s and 40s. The ‘swinging sixties’ saw the arrival of the city’s first tower blocks, still a notable feature of the skyline to this day. By the 1970s, Norwich had the highest proportion of council housing of any city in the county. Following the introduction of the Right to Buy in 1981, 1000 Norwich tenants bought their homes in the first two years of the scheme. The Bowers Avenue development was built in the 1990s, the last council homes built until 2016.

A competition inviting children to draw a picture inspired by a century of council housing took place at a street party at Goldsmith Street this summer, with the winning entry designed by an eight-year-old attendee. Look out for the logo on social media, printed materials and items around the city.

Past and present tenants of the city’s council housing are also being invited to get involved by sharing their own memories and photos.

June Gidney, a Norwich resident who has shared her story of living in one of the first city council properties, said: “Moving to a council house from a cramped house-share was an important step for my parents, and I have vivid memories of growing up in Catton Grove in the 1930s and 40s.

“Times were hard but happy, and I fondly remember the strong sense of community and, in many ways, simpler way of life.”

Other celebration activities include planting a tree for each year in different locations around the city, establishing a special flowerbed on Golden Ball Street and running an incentive for current council tenants to hold street parties over the next 12 months.

Councillor Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for social housing:

“We should never take for granted our legacy of building council homes which have produced communities and estates that make up the fabric of Norwich.

“They’re such an asset to the city so it’s important to remember the story behind how it all began and has subsequently developed.”

More details about celebratory activities will be revealed throughout the year.

For more information and to share your memories, see the Century of Norwich council housing pages.