When making do was a way of life…
We hear a lot about austerity these days. Many of us have a sharp eye on our budgets and save whatever we can. But after the war, in Norwich and across the nation, making every penny count was a way of life.
We thought the people of Norwich (rhymes with porridge not itch) could teach us a thing or two about how to make the best of what we have. So we’ve searched the Internet for memories of growing up in the years after the war from local bloggers, historians and authors.
Fun on the streets and walls
As any local will tell you, Norwich isn’t a town - it’s a city, boasting two cathedrals and the city walls.
Years ago, children made the city’s historic streets their playground… and battleground. Local lad, Raymond Aldous, recalls how he and his friends would fight it out on the old city walls and use the The Black Tower and the Wilderness Tower as forts.
Collecting cigarette cards from the Coleman's workers
Fun was found in the most unusual places, including the Coleman’s factory. According to WiseArchive, kids would wait for the workers to light up after a shift and ask for the cards in their cigarette packets to add to their Players or Woodbines album.
Families grew their own vegetables in the garden, or on an allotment. Local author, John Wayer remembers the Council-run allotments on the outskirts of Norwich where his father grew vegetables and kept rabbits and chickens, “...which were a welcome addition to our food supply”.
A day at the seaside
The closest many people came to a holiday was a day trip to Great Yarmouth, or should we say, Yarmouth. We found so many misty-eyed seaside tales. Riding the rollercoaster at the pleasure beach, sailing out to see the seals aboard the Norwich Belle and vying for one of the deck chairs packed on the sand between the two piers.
Entertainment on the cheap
The cinema was great value entertainment, especially for the ones who managed to sneak in for free and save their pennies for sweets! At the weekend, kids across the city would pour into the Theatre de Luxe, The Norvic, the Gaumant or Regal to cheer on Roy Rogers, Flash Gordon and Zorro.
Swimming in Wensum park
Free entertainment came in the form of wild swimming. Margaret Nesbitt told the Norwich Evening News about summer days spent splashing around on the city’s ‘own beach’ in Wensum Park, where part of the river was fenced off to create a swimming pool.
And finally, working hard and playing hard
Teenagers saved their pennies to see the latest band or go dancing at the Samson and Hercules ballroom. Local hairdresser, Helen Anderson told the BBC that she’d give her customers a good shampoo hoping for a sixpence tip so she could go dancing.
Do you remember going to the pictures at the Norvic, swimming in Wensum Park or running along the old city walls? Or do you have other cherished memories of growing up in Norwich after the war? If so, we’d love to hear your stories.
We’d like to say a very big thank you for all the memories we have collected from Culture24, WiseArchive, St Augustines Norwich (PDF), Wroxham Parish Council, Norfolkatthepictures.org, Norwich Evening News and bbc.co.uk. It’s been a joy discovering such wonderful stories from your inspiring city.
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