Stuffed behind a beam in on one of the upper floors we discovered this fragment of newspaper from 1940:

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World war II began in 1939, although it wasn’t until 1941 that the first bombs fell on Norwich (in the Vauxhall St area close to where I live now). It had begun preparing itself back in 1938, building air-raid shelters and sandbagging important buildings like the Guildhall (which thankfully remained unscathed).

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In the period until 1943, 340 people were killed with 1092 injured. The fabric of the city suffered severely  with 2082 dwelling-houses destroyed and 2651 seriously damaged. Despite efforts to keep the shopping area open as usual, a lot of the traders had been called on to fight. Department stores became targets and the market became sparse.

In October, 1942, King George VI made a surprise visit to the city, meeting not only civic dignitaries but several hundred men, women and boys of the Civil Defence Services who had performed so well during the air attacks on the city. It was a vastly different place to the Norwich he had come to a few years before to open the City Hall.

When I used to live above The Birdcage, we had a view up Lower Goat Lane to the tower at City Hall. I’d been told that City Hall had been considered for Hitler’s Eastern headquarters should the Nazi’s have succeeded. I used to imagine what it would have been like to look at that view, with a great big Nazi flag hanging down it and some sort of Stormtrooper keeping it guard.

I wonder now, looking at this fragment of newspaper and what it must have been like seeing the view of the market and the Guildhall getting prepared for the bombings, what the tenant living above The Sir Garnet must have been feeling like at that time….

For me it seems so poignant, the location of the War Memorial in Norwich. Outside City Hall and the Guildhall, gently watching the market place. A reminder of loss, yet an emblem of triumph. Image

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