Celebrating the history of Thorpe St Andrew
The Thorpe History Group was established in 2013 to increase people’s knowledge of the history of Thorpe, to encourage research and to provide opportunities to meet.
Each year we put on a programme of events that includes talks, guided walks and other events – details can be found under Talks & Walks.
Our activities are advertised on this website and by other means, including a regular email newsletter which is available free of charge – see Contact Us for details.
History of Thorpe St Andrew
Thorpe St Andrew lies immediately to the east of the City of Norwich and had a population of 14,528 at the census of 2021. For several hundred years it was a small riverside village but has expanded substantially during the last two centuries.
During the nineteenth century, Thorpe developed on both sides of the Yarmouth Road, with much of what is now upper Thorpe being farm land, having previously formed part of Mousehold Heath. The village became a popular place of residence for wealthy Norwich businessmen who wanted a pleasant place to live with easy access to the city. This trend increased with the opening of the railway station in 1874 (it closed to passengers in 1955 and to freight in 1964). Thorpe was also a popular destination for visitors from Norwich and further afield who visited the riverside pleasure gardens and public houses, and enjoyed events such as the Thorpe Water Frolic which flourished for a period.
There was some local industry including boat building and the extraction of marl, and a range of trades serving the local community including shoe makers, bakers, butchers and builders etc. On the darker side Thorpe was the scene of one of the worst accidents in railway history when two trains collided head-on in September 1874 near the Rushcutters public house leaving 27 dead and many severely injured.
The twentieth century saw the development of north Thorpe as new estates on Hillcrest Road, Gordon Avenue and in the Spinney Road area were built on what had previously been farm land. Toward the end of the century the Dussindale development to the east of Thorpe brought many more houses and a new school – the first to be built in Thorpe for many years.