Norwich Street Photographs

Previous street: Ber St

Bethel St:
        From St Peter's St to St Giles' St
Little Bethel St, (formerly passing Lady's Lane)

      South side
Bethel St 1 and left St Peter's St 29 [1386] 1936-09-08
Bethel St 1 and left St Peter's St 29 [4597] 1961-05-07
Bethel St 3 [1377] 1936-09-03
Bethel St 1 to 3 rear St Peter's St 29 rear [4595] 1961-05-06
Bethel St 7 to 11 Wheatsheaf PH stables [2368] 1938-05-04
Former Wheatsheaf Inn stables.
Civic Week corporation officials procession [2817] 1938-10-23
Civic Week corporation officials procession [2818] 1938-10-23
Bethel St 19 to 21 [1375] 1936-09-03
Bethel St 31 to 33 [1376] 1936-09-03
Bethel St 31 Georgian doorway [0417] 1935-03-24
Bethel St 33 Georgian doorway [0388] 1935-03-12
Bethel St Central Library construction [4643] 1961-09-03
Architect David Percival A.R.I.B.A.
Bethel St Central Library nearly complete [4715] 1962-09-09
Showing the entrance to the former Lady's Lane. Subsequently realigned and renamed Esperanto Way. Library destroyed by fire in 1994. Replaced by the Forum.
Theatre St view of Central Library [6537] 1989-03-25
Bethel St library site excavations [7612] 1999-03-04
Site of central library car park. Evidence of Viking occupation uncovered.
Bethel St library site view west [7681] 1999-09-10
Site for the Forum.
Bethel St library site view south [7682] 1999-09-10
Bethel St library site view west [7730] 2000-02-11
Bethel St library site from SE [7779] 2000-10-15
Bethel St library site from NE [7780] 2000-10-15
Bethel St Forum library from St Peter's St [7808] 2001-03-20
Built 1999-2000, architects Michael Hopkins and partners. Opened 1st November 2001.
Bethel St Forum library from Hay Hill [7859] 2001-10-28
Bethel St Forum library from Theatre St [7862] 2001-10-28
Bethel St Forum library interior view NW [7866] 2002-01-18
Incorporating the Millennium library.
Bethel St Forum library interior view SW [7867] 2002-01-18
Bethel St Hospital north front [4651] 1961-09-19
This is the building from which the street obtained its name. Built in 1713, the Bethel is one of the oldest mental hospitals in the country. Although no longer housing inmates, it is still in use as a psychiatric outpatients' department and so adheres to the instructions carved on its foundation stone that it "is not to be alienated or employ'd to any other use or purpose whatsoever".
Its foundress was Mary Chapman, the widow of the Reverend Samuel Chapman, rector of Thorpe St Andrew. Both of them had relations afflicted with mental illness and it was no doubt this, and the fact that many such sufferers – particularly the poor and destitute – were treated like rogues and vagabonds, that gave Mary and her husband the idea of building such a refuge.
Much of the Queen Anne building remains. It is best seen from the garden at the back, the Bethel St frontage being a modern addition erected in 1899 during the chairmanship of John Youngs, architect E.Boardman.
Bethel St Hospital precinct west side cells [6506] 1988-08-06
From site of Ladies' garden.
Bethel St Hospital south front from garden [6505] 1988-08-06
From site of Ladies' croquet lawn. 18c. Carpenter, Richard Starling. Mason, Edward Freeman.
Bethel St 49 and left Little Bethel St 1 [6276] 1983-07-27
Bethel St 51 Coach and Horses PH [1356] 1936-08-30
At No 51 the picturesque Coach and Horses public house still stands.
Bethel St Coach and Horses Yard east side [1319] 1936-08-26
Bethel St Coach and Horses Yard west side [1318] 1936-08-26
Bethel St 51 boundary plates [2271] 1938-04-07
Four lead plates and inscribed stone at boundary of St Giles' and St Peter Mancroft's parishes. Dates between 1710 and 1829.
Bethel St 53 [1357] 1936-08-30
No 53 was a spacious mansion built during the latter half of the Georgian period. Three storeys high, with sash windows and a central pillared doorway, it had a wing to the east having two main storeys, with an attic lit by two dormers, each crowned by a small pediment. This had been the residence of a number of local notabilities. In mid-19c directories, for instance, we find mention of Mr James Cuddon, solicitor, who was the founder of the Law Union Assurance Society, established in 1854. Then came Dr Edward Copeman, a physician to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital from 1851 to 1878, who as well as being a noted obstetrician and gynaecologist was an excellent musician and performer on the violin and violoncello, playing at several of the Norwich Musical Festivals.
Mr F.C.Bailey lived here in 1886. He was a surgeon and as well as being Medical Officer for the Seventh District was also Medical Officer of the Asylum for the Blind in Magdalen St. Coming to recent times, Dr G.S.B.Long lived here shortly before the Second World War, and finally in 1940 the house was taken over by the Diocesan Refuge (St Augustine's Lodge), who were the occupiers at the time of its destruction.
Bethel St 53 Georgian doorway [3197] 1939-08-07
Bethel St 55 to 57 [1355] 1936-08-30
Bethel St, which leads from Upper St Giles' to the Market Place, was in the early 18c known as Committee St, from the Committee House which formerly stood on the site of the Bethel Hospital and which was blown up in 1648 by the accidental firing of 98 barrels of gunpowder. A much more recent disaster was the destruction by incendiary bombs of Nos 53-57 Bethel St during the night of 27th June 1942.
Nos 55-57 were three-storeyed houses faced with plaster, having sash windows and pantiled roofs. Of the two, No 57 appeared to be the older, its first floor projecting slightly over the pavement. Between the two was the entrance to Watts' Court, spanned by a carved wooden archway of Tudor origin. Happily saved from the burned-out wreckage, it was later moved to one of the Norwich museums. It bears neither date nor initials, which are often featured on similar doorways of this period, but it has in its spandrels carvings of a lizard (left) and fern leaves (right). No 55 was at one time the residence of Charles Burton Daveney, a solicitor, who died about 1880. He was a member of the well-known family of Daveney of Colton.
Watts' Court takes its name from John Langley Watts, a merchant, who resided during the 18c at No 61, a little further to the west of these houses. He was Sheriff in 1771 and Mayor in 1774, dying during his term of office. He is notable as being the first Norwich Mayor to have two Christian names.
Bethel St Watts' Court Tudor archway [2142] 1938-03-09
Archway to wooden Tudor doorway. The spandrels showed fern leaves with, in the left one, a lizard.
Bethel St Watts' Court Tudor doorway [0389] 1935-03-12
Bethel St 59 [1354] 1936-08-30
Bethel St 59 Georgian doorway [0402] 1935-03-19
Bethel St 61 [3198] 1939-08-07
Bethel St 61 Georgian doorway [0401] 1935-03-19
Bethel St 61 south side [6533] 1989-03-20
Bethel St Ninham's Court 6 from NW [0403] 1935-03-19
Bethel St Ninham's Court 6 west side [1403] 1936-09-17
Bethel St Ninham's Court 6 east wing [1506] 1937-03-25
Bethel St Ninham's Court 10 to 11 [0348] 1935-01-04
Bethel St 67 [1353] 1936-08-30
Bethel St 67 coronation floodlit [1616] 1937-05-12
Bethel St 69 [1419] 1936-09-20
Municipal offices until 1938. Sanitary department. Formerly a boarding house.
        North side
Bethel St 2 Mancroft Hotel and PH [0306] 1934-11-26
Bethel St 2 to 14 former Wheatsheaf Inn [0326] 1934-12-07
After the new Fire Station was opened and with little waste of time, work commenced in the following year on clearing the adjacent site for the new City Hall. On the Bethel St side this involved Nos 2-18 inclusive. Their sites would now be in the middle of the present carriageway, since the street formerly tapered to a single traffic lane at this end.
The first few houses were nondescript 19c three-storeyed buildings of red brick, No 2 being the Mancroft Restaurant. At No 14 was latterly the Idolene Manufacturing Company, occupying premises formerly the Wheatsheaf inn and retaining its sign above the door, moulded in plaster. It has been suggested that this was intended for a sheaf of barley, for the old Barley Market dating back to the reign of Edward I was formerly held in an adjacent yard. One of the chief attractions here was the skittle alley, but the inn also afforded stabling on the opposite side of the road for the accommodation of carriers. These stables in fact outlasted the inn, surviving until 1960 as lock-up shops, including those of a tobacconist and a secondhand furniture dealer. The inn itself was a Tudor building of several gables, and it was reported at the time of its demolition that certain of its oak beams were to be preserved at one of the city's museums. There is no record that this was ever done.
Bethel St 2 to 18 view east [0305] 1934-11-26
Bethel St 14 former Wheatsheaf Inn to 18 [0327] 1934-12-07
No 18 Bethel St, on the left of the picture, was a large building of three storeys, its exterior wall cement rendered and partly panelled. The doorway that formed its main entrance, now transferred to the inner courtyard of the Strangers' Hall museum, is a lofty one of the Adam period, with fluted pillars supporting an open pediment below which, in place of a fanlight, is a plain semi-circular tympanum. The building had been used for a variety of purposes, having been divided up during its latter years. In 1883 it was occupied by F.W.Harmer's clothing factory, but it was later taken over be E.Pordage's, the wholesale fruiterers. Portions were also occupied by a billiard saloon and a signwriter's studio. In the past it had also been used as a school for higher education and by Forster's mineral water works - a well was said to have existed on or adjacent to the premises. Indeed when excavation took place a number of wells were uncovered scattered over the whole area.
Bethel St 18 Adams period doorway [0345] 1934-12-26
See also Charing Cross, Strangers Hall.
Bethel St Rates Hall steel doors [2409] 1938-05-15
Steel doors and coloured roundels bearing the City Arms.
Bethel St regalia room window [2850] 1938-11-05
Bethel St regalia room window [2890] 1939-03-09
City Arms above it carved by Eric Aumonier.
Bethel St Police station entrance [3030] 1939-05-29
Decorative panels carved by H Wilson Parker.
Bethel St view of Clock tower illuminated [2819] 1938-10-27
Bethel St view of Clock tower illuminated [2820] 1938-10-27
The temporary market Bethel St view east [2363] 1938-05-04
Temporary location in Bethel St and City Hall courtyard during reconstruction of the Market Place.
The temporary market Bethel St view west [2366] 1938-05-04
The temporary market City Hall courtyard [2392] 1938-05-14
The temporary market City Hall courtyard [2393] 1938-05-14
The temporary market City Hall rear view N [2364] 1938-05-04
The temporary market City Hall rear view S [2365] 1938-05-04
The temporary market City Hall rear view W [2367] 1938-05-04
The temporary market City Hall sandpit [2391] 1938-05-14
Area familiarly known as the "Sand pit".
The temporary market City Hall sandpit [2394] 1938-05-14
Bethel St view of City Hall COLOUR [2960] 1939-04-13
Bethel St Police station extension [5104] 1966-10-15
South wing extension.
Bethel St German type post box from Koblenz [7914] 2003-02-18
Presented by the twin city.
Bethel St 24 to 26 demolition commenced [B492] 1933-03-11
Undoubtedly the biggest development affecting the heart of the city during the 1930s was the construction of the City Hall and the consequent remodelling of the market place. For many years Norwich Corporation had been acquiring property in an area bounded by Bethel St, St Peter's St and St Giles' St with this in mind, and early in 1933 demolition commenced to permit the construction of the Fire Station - the most urgently needed of the civic buildings.
Bethel St 24 to 32 partially demolished [B497] 1933-03-18
The houses affected were Nos 20-36 Bethel St, together with Blazeby's Yard and Jay's Court at the rear. Most of the houses fronting the street were of the Tudor period, timber framed, plaster faced, with slightly jettied first floor and with one or more dormers lighting the attic. Except that No 36, next door to Lacey and Lincoln's builders' yard, had been a public house known as the Coachmakers' Arms, their history seems to have been uneventful. All were in a very rundown condition at the time of their disappearance.
Bethel St 26 partially demolished [B495] 1933-03-18
Bethel St 28 to 34 site of new fire station [B491] 1933-03-11
Bethel St 28 to 36 partially demolished [B496] 1933-03-18
Bethel St 32 demolition contractor notice [B493] 1933-03-11
1933-04 site cleared [B530] 1933-04-14
1933-04 site cleared view NW [B531] 1933-04-14
1933-06 fencing around site [B573] 1933-06-07
1933-07 girderwork construction started [B636] 1933-07-22
1933-09 girderwork complete view NW [B781] 1933-09-24
1933-09 girderwork nearly complete [B766] 1933-09-10
1933-10 brickwork commenced at SW corner [B786] 1933-10-05
1933-10 stonework over entrance view NE [B784] 1933-10-05
1933-10 stonework over entrance view NW [B785] 1933-10-05
1933-11 brickwork at first floor level [B796] 1933-11-02
1933-11 brickwork progress at NW corner [B802] 1933-11-18
1933-11 brickwork progress at SW corner [B795] 1933-11-02
1933-11 second floor constructed [B801] 1933-11-18
1933-11 second floor constructed [B803] 1933-11-19
1933-12 second floor brickwork view NE [B808] 1933-12-03
1933-12 second floor brickwork view NW [B807] 1933-12-03
1934-01 brickwork complete to roof level [0006] 1934-01-08
1934-01 contractors board [0025] 1934-01-30
1934-01 site of access road on east side [0024] 1934-01-30
1934-01 view NE [0026] 1934-01-30
1934-01 view NW [0013] 1934-01-09
1934-05 construction almost complete [0093] 1934-05-10
1934-08 hoardings removed [0278] 1934-08-26
Bethel St road widening [0302] 1934-10-09
Bethel St road widening [0303] 1934-10-09
Bethel St fire station after completion [0304] 1934-11-26
The new building, erected to the design and under the supervision of Mr Stanley G.Livock, F.R.I.B.A., a Norwich architect, was completed at a cost of about £33,000 by Simms Son and Cooke of Nottingham, and includes on the north side, offices of the City Weights and Measures department. It was officially opened on 8th November 1934 by the Lord Mayor Mr F.C.Jex when it was described as "one of the largest and best equipped fire stations in the country", the old premises being referred to as "a disgrace and reproach to the city for many years".
Bethel St fire station return entrance [0309] 1934-11-26
Bethel St 34 Country and Eastern doorway [7828] 2001-06-26
Modern entrance.
Bethel St 34 Country and Eastern warehouse [7792] 2001-01-06
Former roller skating rink. Opened 1876, closed as such 1882.
Bethel St 38 [3224] 1939-08-07
Bethel St 38 Georgian doorway [0400] 1935-03-19
Bethel St 48 east side [7829] 2001-06-26
House in courtyard adjoining 48 Bethel St.
Bethel St 52 to 58 [5219] 1968-07-03
Bethel St St Giles' Terrace [5199] 1968-05-30
Tucked away behind buildings on its north side of Bethel St is a row of town houses known as St Giles' Terrace, built during the early part of the 19c. Facing west, its grey brick facade was designed with a series of five pilasters supporting a shallow stone pediment above a plain architrave.
Bethel St St Giles' Terrace gas street lamp [4385] 1955-09-22
A survival from the past which I photographed in 1955 was an old gas lamp lighting the pathway flanking the front gardens here; it has since been converted to electricity, although retaining its original lantern. Most were converted 1911-13.
The history of street lighting in Norwich is an interesting one. In August 1807, the Paving Commissioners advertised for tenders for lighting the city by oil, stating that the number of lamps required would be between 1,200 and 1,400. Late in 1819 a Bill was promoted in Parliament for lighting the city with oil gas and "on January 31st, 1820, the first of the iron gas pipes were laid in the Market Place", where by May the gas was producing "a strong and steady light as far as it extended". The works were in St Stephen's Back St (later renamed Malthouse Rd), but in 1825 they were purchased by the British Gas Light Company, who had bought land near St Martin-at-Palace Plain in order to build works for the production of coal gas. In 1830 these were augmented by others at Bishopbridge Rd, and from this time gas lighting was gradually extended throughout the city.
21 years later, when Norwich was the subject of an inquiry by the General Board of Health into its sanitary condition, the Superintendent Inspector, W. Lee, commented on the evidence of Mr Tadman, the gas works manager, and considering the cost of the coals, "the citizens of Norwich had great reason to be satisfied with the company's prices for gas".
Unfortunately this happy state of affairs was not to last; in 1880 because of the "unjust and unnecessary burdens imposed upon the citizens through the extravagant charge made for gas" the city council was asked to consider the question of electric lighting. A year later two electric lights had been put up in the Market Place and it was decided to extend the system experimentally to a few other main streets. The first permanent installations were made in 1904, when arc lamps were placed on top of the tram standards in the Market Place, Bank Plain and Prince of Wales Rd, to be followed in 1910-13 by the conversion of all the gas lamps to electricity except for a few isolated lamps in unadopted thoroughfares. Norwich, it was claimed, thus became the first town in England to be entirely lit by electricity.
Bethel St YMCA recreation hall [4716] 1962-09-09
Erected 1961-52.
Bethel St 64 [1352] 1936-08-30
For 70 Bethel St see 64-66a St Giles' St.
Bethel St 64 Georgian doorway [0405] 1935-03-21

Next street: Bishop Bridge Rd

Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett

 Street List