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Norwich: Bank of England branch: survey drawings, designs for alterations and related documents for 17 premises including the selected one in Queen Street, 1827-1829 (91)

A branch bank in Norwich was proposed in May 1827 but a difficulty lay 'in obtaining suitable premises at a reasonable price' (W. Marston Acres, op.cit., p. 435). This, as well as the number of persons interested in selling or leasing their premises to the Bank of England, explains the fourteen buildings that were considered before it was decided in late 1828 to buy a house in Queen Street.

Queen Street was known as 'Red Well Street' until the early nineteenth century, and this is the name that appears on a map of Norwich in the Soane collection (SM 57a/3/9), dated 1789, to which Mr Foster's premises have been added in pencil, as well as premises in Tombland and St Martin's Street.

Survey drawings and preliminary designs for alterations to the premises were made in 1828 (drawings 48-66). Substantial interior alterations were required to make the premises suitable for banking and accommodation for the sub-agent, Mr Welsden (drawings 67-73) including the construction of a treasure vault (drawings 74-75) and the enlargement of the kitchen (drawings 79-82).The new bank was opened in 1829 but closed in 1852 and sold two years later.

The upper part of the branch bank was demolished before the second world war when a shoe factory behind was extended, but was reconstructed in 1969. Both Mr Gidney's premises to the right of the court and the Foster and Unthank offices to the left do survive and are listed Grade II and the yard is still known as 'Old Bank of England Court'.

Literature:
W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from Within, 1694-1900, Vol. II, 1931, pp. 435-6; N. Pevsner and B. Wilson, Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East, 1997, pp. 293-4; J. Plunkett, George Plunkett's Photographs of Old Norwich, <http://www.georgeplunkett.co.uk>; English Heritage, Old Bank of England Court (Right Hand Side), <www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk>; English Heritage, Old Bank of England Court (Left Hand Side), <www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk>

Tom Drysdale, March 2013
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