Pottergate comes from Old English/Danish patois: Potters gata. Although the road passes through the line of the medieval city walls, there was no ancient gate on Pottergate. Gata is a street, and Potters gata unsurprisingly means 'street of the potters'.
Pottergate runs parallel to Earlham Road, with everything outside the old city boundary being West Pottergate. Lots of late-20th century social housing around the squares of Paragon Place and Douro Place, a labyrinth-within-a-labyrinth of courtyards, maisonettes, balconies, staircases and walkways. The boarded-up, sunburnt Britannia Tavern can be found in the jumble of alleys. It opened in 1975 and was shut by the turn of the millennium, although it appears to have been open again for a few years at some point in the 2000s.
Further along, you come to the dividing line of Grapes Hill, and the Pottergate underpass: the gateway to the city centre.
The underpass is a graffiti amnesty zone. The council have given up trying to keep the walls plain, and as a result the place is covered in murals, tags, throw-ups, slogans and scrawlings. Space is at a premium; a full mural is an event, and to paint over part of someone else's throw-up before it's had its moment is a violation of the code. So the art has spilled out at either end, onto the stairwells leading up to Grapes Hill, onto the walls as you emerge into Pottergate proper. All the local graffiti artists cut their teeth here: KNAPPLE, Miss E., SESAME, VERN, CAIR, CHE, Acid Mouse, MILK, and Ed Le May. I will have missed many excellent artists.
Norwich City Council's website says:
We understand the difference between street art, which is generally regarded as an artistic and considered intervention, and graffiti which is generally considered to have a negative impact.
There is no difference. They are lying to you.
Some may wonder why I've chosen to focus so much on graffiti on this site, and the answer is simple: graffiti is the signature of the city with many hands and many voices. People have been scratching on public surfaces since the invention of writing. It says so much about us and the way we live. You can't have Norwich's beautiful 'City of Stories' murals without tags and throw-ups.
There is some more excellent graffiti further down Pottergate, as you pass upmarket flats and approach the indie shops of St Gregory's Square and the Lanes.
Elsewhere, graffiti is used as a political weapon. On the junction of Pottergate and Cow Hill is a very pretty house which, during the 2019 election, put up a 'Vote Conservative' poster in its window. In a committed Red/Green city with a huge student population, this didn't go down very well, and the house was quickly vandalised: 'TORY CUTS KILL'.
During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, KNAPPLE and Miss E. collaborated on a BLM mural. Some anonymous reactionary reported the graffiti as 'offensive' and the council duly painted over it. There was a public outcry, and the council admitted it had made a big mistake. The artists were commissioned to re-create the mural.
It's also worth mentioning that Pottergate was the original site of the Jenny Lind Children's Hospital, funded by the eponymous Swedish opera star, before it was moved to Unthank Road (the present-day location of Jenny Lind Park). There was also the Pottergate Street Mixed Home, an orphanage/care home which was closed down by health officials in 1926. It is now offices, and is supposedly very haunted. In the 1960s, on various buildings up and down the street, different sets of workmen uncovered a saint icon figure carved from stone, medieval pottery shards and the skeleton of a child.