Recently, I’ve had a lot of queries about bomb damage in Norwich, so I thought it might be worth a quick post to point out some of the first ports of call if you’re looking for resources.
From home, you already have access to some fantastic free online resources, some of which are:
- Norfolk’s Historic Map Explorer, which includes a 1946 aerial photograph layer (http://www.historic-maps.norfolk.gov.uk/mapexplorer/) Granted this is a little after the war, but ‘gaps’ can give you clues as to the level of damage in a particular area, and this is a County wide layer, giving more than just central Norwich coverage.
- Picture Norfolk, which includes hundreds of photographs of bomb damage, many by George Swain (www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk, also on twitter @PictureNorfolk)
- East Anglian Film Archive, including all sorts of digitised footage, for example ‘Captain Rowsell’s Norwich’ in 1945 (www.eafa.org.uk)
- Interviews with those that remember the bombing in the Norfolk Sound Archive. Search ‘bomb damage’ on NROCAT (nrocat.norfolk.gov.uk) and you’ll be able to listen online in some cases. In others, you can use the equipment off the NRO searchroom.
- Some trade directories are available at www.norfolksources.norfolk.gov.uk or www.historicaldirectories.org which might give an insight into which street numbers were unoccupied after the war (although coverage is patchy during). Personally I still prefer taking a volume off the shelf because it’s the easiest way to navigate them.
- Maps are a great resource for this type of research. One of my favourite items at the Norfolk Heritage Centre is ‘Wally’s Map’, drawn by Wally as a 14 year old boy in 1942, cycling around Norwich and marking the damage from the Baedeker Raids. The same map is reproduced at the Bridewell Museum. To order the map up from the store, just ask at the desk and take along your Norfolk library or CARN card.
- A 1944 bomb damage map is also available at Norfolk Heritage Centre.
- Norfolk Record Office have electronic access to another bomb map in their searchroom, of a slightly more official variety.
- Ordnance survey maps are available in large numbers across many editions at the Heritage Centre, too. A key is on open access for 6″ and 25″ maps up until OS went metric, starting in 1969, after which you need a key from behind the desk to order up your areas of interest.
- Scrapbooks, diaries, books, ephemera and newspapers (sometimes less information than you might think during WWII) are all available at the Norfolk Heritage Centre. Search the library catalogue for details at www.norfolk.gov.uk/libraries
- Various committee minutes at the Norfolk Record Office, use NROCAT or finding aids in the searchroom (N/EN 1 is a good place to start, also N/TC 28).
Collections at both NHC and NRO occur twice an hour. You just need a CARN card, which works in many other archives across the Country.