King Street was once the main route out of Norwich to the south, and in the Middle
Ages it was a wealthy area: it runs parallel to the river and rich merchant houses stretched down from the street to the wharves on the river. Indeed two of the major survivals from medieval Norwich are still to be found along the street -Dragon Hall and the Music
House. Its recent history however, has not been so happy. By the 19th century it was given over to light industry, culminating in the 20th century when a vast brewery warehouse was set down in the middle of it,
dwarfing the surrounds.
Yet King Street and its river could, and indeed should be a major asset to the life of Norwich. With this intention the City
Council has established a Single
Regeneration Budget to bring new life to the area and to establish the waterfront as a major attraction. Archaeology is playing an integral role in this process, and in the first three years of the programme, over 10 sites have been sampled to assist the urban regeneration programme. At the same time such targeted work has provided a rare opportu-
nity to study systematically a single and important medieval street.
King Street is the sou them half of the cardinal route through Norwich, and has serviced the city's waterfront for over 1000
years. In that time its fortunes have been decidedly cyclical, its greatest decline begin-
ning, socially at least, in the Georgian period.
With new suburbs developing on the ou tskirts of Norwich the middle classes began to move away and the light industry of the Victorian period moved in to replace them.
In the 1930s there were several determined efforts at slum clearance which destroyed a number of important medieval timber-framed buildings. More clearance followed the air raids of the 1940s, which
King Street today
Top. The dominating feature is the Watney Mann
Brewery, occupying the site of the Austin Friars.
Attempts at conservation. The middle photo shows an unsuccessful attempt of the 7950s- at least the upper floor is more or less genuine.
Beyond that is the newly restored Dragon Hall, shown below ffiW~~~@[L@@]W170