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Report - Waterstones, Royal Arcade, Norwich, October 2011

Vii Sins

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The Royal Arcade was designed by George Skipper in 1899 and is an ornately tiled shopping arcade between the market place and the castle in Norwich city centre. It was built on the site of the back yard of an inn called The Angel. Waterstones booksellers has stood at the castle end of the Arcade since 1996, but closed down a few weeks ago having sold out to Jamie Oliver who will be opening a restaurant in the building.
When I first came to Norwich I worked in the shop for a couple of months. Little did I know then that the building has some interesting secrets, and I was fortunate enough to be shown round by a friend who was working there to the very end.

Previously the shop has served time as a pub, as mentioned, the Angel Inn, later as the Arcade Stores pub. It has also been a butchers, and on the upper sales floor was originally the Conservative club, then later a snooker hall.

The basement has been largely untouched since it served time as a butchers, the block is still lying on the floor.



There is evidence that there were tunnels leading off under other parts of the arcade, this one blocked with breeze blocks would pass under the footway to the shops on the opposite side.





Up in the roof there is a flat that has remained unused since the 70's. It'll make a nice city centre crash pad for Mr Oliver.




Above the upper shop floor in what used to be the Conservative club is a stained glass ceiling. I had always assumed that this was the roof, but in fact it is a false ceiling with the roof some way above it, and a gallery all the way around the outside of it.






It's a shame that Waterstones has bailed out of this site. Here's hoping that Jamie won't destroy the character of the building in his conversion.
A few more photos from this visit can be found here


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