Cat no. 635

Labour and the New Society

Running time17:53 Black & White Silent 1951 Norwich, Norfolk

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A film of the old and new City of Norwich, made for the Norwich Labour Party.


AmateurArchive AlivePoliticsPortrait of a Place

The titles are shot over scenes of Norwich. These show Orford Place, the City Hall over the roof tops of the City, All Saints Green (with Bonds new department store to the left), Castle Meadow and the Royal Hotel, and an older, residential Norwich Street, showing children playing in the street. Labour And The New Society.

The film proper opens with views of Norwich as most people perceive it. These scenes show Prince Of Wales Road, where there are good traffic scenes. They show the River Wensum and Pulls Ferry, the Cathedral and the Cloisters. There are scenes of Tombland showing the Maids Head Hotel. The Cathedral is shot through the Erpingham Gate. There are shots of Elm Hill and of St. Andrew's Plain and St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls. There are shots of Grapes Hill, before redevelopment and of St. Giles, showing the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the City Hall and the Guildhall. There are scenes of the market and Gentlemen's Walk and of London Street and Orford Place. This section ends with a sign promoting the Norwich Festival. The Castle is in the background of this and other shots.

The main section of the film covers housing provision in the City. The film shows older, dilapidated housing in Norwich. Children play on wasteground. Some of this housing is clearly bomb damaged. An estate of pre-fabs shows the interim measures taken to solve the housing problem and then the film advertises some of the Council's new housing schemes. It shows houses under construction on the South Park Avenue estate. The Tuckswood Estate is shown, practically completed, with a small shopping centre. The Cooper Land and Sandy Lane Estates, across the road from Tuckswood, are shown with construction taking place of Harwood Road. The Woodlands Estate is also under construction.

There is a lengthy feature on the West Earlham Estate. The largest of the new City estates, this was billed as a small town. There are shots of the West Earlham Centre and of houses on Rockingham Road. However, the film shows that the area was still under construction. Here, too, children play on wasteground, as the green in the West Earlham Centre then was. West Earlham provides a link with the other major project the Labour Party wanted to publicise; education. It shows the Clarkson Infants and Junior School in West Earlham, the Gurney Girls Secondary School, the Henderson Boys Secondary School and Tuckswood Infants School. Here the children are seen in the playground with their teacher.

The film emphasises its message to maintain the improvements in the City. It introduces some leading Labour Party figures. The agent, Bill Butcher leaves the Labour Club on Bethel Street and walks to City Hall. outside City Hall he meets Alderman Cutbush, Councillor Arthur South and Alderman Henderson. The film finishes with shots of traffic signs to re-inforce the message, Keep Left - Vote Left.

Background Information:

2,000 Norwich homes were completely destroyed by the bombing campaigns in World War II. 30,000 were damaged, some beyond repair. The redevelopment had begun before World War II, when older Estates, such as Mile Cross and the Larkman were built, along with the flats along Barrack Street. After World War II, the City Council launched an ambitious scheme to build 2,000 new homes in 5 years. This they managed, the 2,000th permanent house being completed on 19th April, 1950. However, people could not remain homeless for that length of time. The prefabs were designed as short term accommodation. The first of the 350 'prefabs' to be erected in Norwich was put up in 1946. They were designed to last for 10 years, but the last one, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Miller in Magpie Road, wasn't dismantled until 1976. Some of the houses shown here are small Georgian and early nineteenth century houses that are now desirable properties and were mainly in need of painting. (House painting stopped during the war years - the factories were not making paint, except for military purposes.) They have stood the test of time better than the 1950s houses, some of which were in poor repair within 50 years. The Clarkson Junior and Infant Schools were opened by Mr. G. Tomlinson, Minister for Education, on December 7th, 1949.


Many of the houses shown as an example of the legacy of time and private enterprise have clearly been bomb damaged. More a case of an enterprising Luftwaffe, who did much for inner-city clearance and regeneration schemes in the UK. This was an extra incentive for the housing programme shown here.

Featured People:

Bill Butcher; Alderman W.G. Cutbush; Alderman Fred Henderson ; Councillor Arthur South

Featured Organisations:

The Labour Party; Labour And The New Society.

Featured Buildings:

Blackfriars Hall Maids Head Hotel; Bonds Pulls Ferry; Norwich Castle Roman Catholic Cathedral; Norwich Cathedral Royal Hotel; City Hall St. Andrew's Hall; Erpingham Gate The Gurney Girls Secondary School; The Guildhall The Henderson Boys Secondary School; Norwich Labour ClubTuckswood Infants School; The Clarkson Infants and Junior School, West Earlham

Geoffrey Campling

Geoffrey Campling

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