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Norwich photographs reveal 'demolished, forgotten streets'

image copyrightJack Roberts Archive
image captionSome of the shops in St Giles Street in Norwich were demolished to widen the Grapes Hill road

Photographs of streets lost in World War Two bombing or post-war redevelopment are to go on public display for the first time.

Jack Roberts, who was born in 1917 and died in 2005, worked for Coe's photographic studios in Norwich and started taking pictures in the 1930s.

His shots of the city in the 1950s and 1960s provide a rare glimpse of forgotten streets.

The exhibition aims to include the memories of local residents.

image copyrightJack Roberts Archive
image captionCrusoe Street, near King Street, was one of several streets demolished in Norwich

In August, the Portraits of Life team at The Forum in Norwich is hoping to record the memories of people who lived in streets which were redeveloped.

They include Golding Street, Ashford Street, Napier Street, Charles Street and Wiggs Passage, Botolph Street, Distillery Street, King Street, Crusoe Street and Barn Road.

While many photographers concentrated on the landmark buildings such as the cathedrals, Mr Roberts would photograph ordinary residential streets.

image copyrightJack Roberts Archive
image captionGrapes Hill in Norwich had suffered from bombing during World War Two

Bill Smith, curator of the Jack Roberts Archives, said: "A lot of the Victorian houses around King Street would be gentrified these days, but under different planning laws they were condemned and new homes built."

He said other buildings were demolished for road-widening schemes such as St Stephens Street and Grapes Hill, which had both suffered bomb damage.

"A lot of the buildings the Germans did not destroy, the city planners did," Mr Smith said.

image copyrightJack Roberts Archive
image captionSome of Jack Roberts' photographs of Norwich date back to the 1930s

Andrew Coe, a great grandson of the founder of Coe's photographic studios, said he was 15 years old when he went to work for the family firm and met Mr Roberts, who was already working there.

He said Mr Roberts "got to know everyone" and added: "He was very unassuming and got on well with everybody from sales directors to factory workers".

"Jack would have known an awful lot of people who lived in the homes which were to be demolished.

"Jack loved the city and saw it changing. He wanted it to be remembered."

image copyrightJack Roberts Archives
image captionJack Roberts' picture of Westlegate's junction with Red Lion Street in Norwich captures a rare Meadows Friskysport car, first produced in 1958
image copyrightJack Roberts Archive
image captionA whole row of shops and a garage were demolished to widen St Stephens Street in Norwich city centre

Portraits of Life is running as part of the Norfolk Heritage Open Days from 13-22 September. The team at The Forum will be recording people's memories ahead of that on 12-17 August.

Related Topics

  • Documentary photography
  • Photography
  • Norwich