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Earlham Road.

One of the main arteries to the west of the city centre. Technically the northern boundary of the Golden Triangle, although really all the streets on the north side count as well.

Along the road can be found the Roman Catholic Cathedral, a Victorian gothic pastiche, the landscaped ruins of the Plantation Garden (in the hollow of an old chalk quarry) and The Dell, a scrap of land filled with stately beech trees, which is popular with local skagheads.


Earlham Road can be escaped at the eastern end via the West Pottergate Underpass or the Grapes Hill footbridge, both hotspots for local graffiti artists (although navigators should note that escaping this way will merely take one deeper into the labyrinth, i.e. the city centre). Bordered at the western end by the ring road, which gives way to leafy suburbs and all that malarkey. The road then continues out towards UEA and the satellite of Earlham.

Heading out of the city centre, on your right you will see a foreboding line of evergreen trees stretching behind the bigger houses. A passage opens up, steep-banked: this is the entrance to Earlham Cemetery, consecrated by the Victorians when the city churchyards were overclogged and contaminating the water supply.

On all sides of the main road, you will see Victorian terraces, thrown up for workers in the 19th century's industrial heyday, on thoroughfares with names like Stafford Street and Caernarvon Road. Much of this area has been colonised by students from UEA or the art school, to the chagrin of locals who want to, quote, 'put families back in the Golden Triangle'. There are plenty of yuppie nucleii to be found here, however. Hippies and toffs abound, and with them artisan bakeries, although the area has not yet been fully gentrified.


Like much of the city, the road is undercut with tunnels excavated by medieval chalk miners. Up until the 20th century, these catacombs were open-access, and so well explored that they had names: Beehive Lane, Bacchus Street, Descender Street, Royal Arch. In the Royal Arch chamber, a graffito reads Joan Bond, 1571. Banquets were held in the cold subterranean passages.

stephen map scan earlham road_edited_edited.png

A map of the Earlham Road catacombs.
Thanks to Stephen Jarvis for supplying the image.

But chalk erodes and corrodes over time, and in 1988 the tunnels collapsed. A sinkhole opened up outside the RC Cathedral, swallowing a bus and releasing poisonous gas from ruptured pipelines. The council sealed up the catacombs. Joan Bond's name is still there, etched into the chalk, but it will never be read by anyone again.

1988 p1_edited.jpg
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