On the eve of the Great War, Norwich was very much a city on the rise – an industrial and commercial powerhouse. It was certainly not, however, without its problems, not least the extreme poverty of some areas, such as the notorious Norwich Yards.
This meticulously researched book looks at Norwich on the eve of conflict and charts, in detail, everyday life in the city, year on year, extensively drawing on original material from the period – much of it never before published in book form. It largely focuses on how it felt to live in the city: on the joys and trials, on the changes to people’s lives, on the courage and humour, as well as the pride and determination shown by the people of The Fine City. Both dramatic events and the details of daily life are illustrated by many rare and fascinating photographs taken at the time.
The massive contribution that Norwich’s industry made to the war effort – especially in supplying hundreds of thousands of pairs of the perfect marching boot and in building the Sopwith Camel on Riverside – is celebrated. As are the incredible deeds of the heroes who travelled from Norwich to the fields of conflict, some of whom gained the Victoria Cross and the many more brave men who did not.
Usefully, an ‘At a Glance’ section outlines the main world events against which home life unfolded. It concludes with a view of the city as the surviving troops finally came home. A separate appendix gives the route for a fascinating ‘Great War Walk’ around the city centre, taking in many of the places discussed throughout this book.