The Norwich Magdalen Street Massacre

The inner ring road flyover.


"We had to destroy the village in order to save it" - a famous quote from the American military during the era of the Vietnam war in the 1960's. Much the same thinking applied to Magdalen Street at that time.

In the 1960's a traffic management scheme was proposed for Norwich which involved the construction of a dual carriageway ring road around the centre of the old city.

Phase one of this project was started in the late 60's and was completed around 1971. A small section in the south past Chapelfield gardens was added a couple of years later, but that was as far as the project got, it was finally buried in the early 1990's when the idea of tearing down cities to build roads had gone out of fashion. Sadly by that time, the real damage had been done.

Fitting the road in around the south was quite easy as it could follow the line of existing streets, even so a large amount of housing was torn down in the process.

The problem came in the north of the city - how to cross the architecturally famous Magdalen Street. This area was full of poor housing and in typical 60's style, the solution was to get the bulldozers out and sweep the whole lot away.

To avoid cutting Magdalen Street in two it was decided to build the road on a flyover across the street, which of course involved demolishing a big chunk of all the buildings along it. Hence it was destroyed in an effort to save it..

That would have been bad enough, but to make matters worse, they also decided to build the Anglia Square shopping centre as a part of the ring road project.

Unfortunately, they built the square on the outside of the ring road, so it lead to nowhere and the road itself created a vast dead area to the north.

The Magdalen Street flyover is a text-book example of destructive city redevelopment and remains an eyesore to this day.

The flyover The flyover next to the old buildings
The flyover looking towards Magdalen Street from the west How could they have done this? It gets worse though...
Across the flyover
The brave new world of the 1960's, note the feeder road into Anglia Square from the flyover. Looking across the ring road to the boarded up office block on Anglia Square. The area to the left was never developed.
Under the flyover The south side of the flyover
The first view of the flyover The footpath and cycle track leading to Magdalen Street
Flyover from the south Under flyover
The flyover "contrasts" with the ancient buildings which survive The land under the flyover at this point has never been developed and in recent years has become used as an unofficial car park
Cr park Waste groundunder the flyover
Bootifull Remember, this was one of the most historical areas of Norwich
East end of flyover SOUTH EAST
This is as far as the ringroad got. The church in the background was to have been swept away and the buildings along that road - barrack Street - were derelict for years. To the east of Magdalen Street the flyover descends to ground level in an area cleared of buildings and which is now a car park. The church yard is to the left.
The eastern end of the flyover The view south
Looking back toward Magdalen Street along the north side of the flyover Not a view of the Cathedral many tourists see
Car park under flyover The eastren end of the flyover
The flyover crosses Magdalen street. At least this area is being used for something, if only parking cars. The other side of the ring road - to the North east. Here the road swept away two sides of a nice little square
The undeveloped wasteland to the north of the flyover, west of Magdalen Street. The northern aspect of the flyover to the east of Magdalen Street. More wasteland where a famous junk yard - "Jack's yard" once stood.
The flyover
Looking towards Magdalen Street from Anglia Square. The dead space caused by the flyover can be seen clearly here. No attempt has ever been made to bring this back to life in the past 30+ years. Looking south along Magdalen Street
  More wasteground
Back to The Norwich Magdalen Street Massacre Another view of the desolation - note the Anglia Square feeder bridge in the distance.