Memories : Norwich, March, 1979

And now… From Norwich!

Norwich March 1979

That would be the famous war-cry of ITVs late, great stalwart of off screen continuity – John Benson. Mr Benson worked freelance for the telly, usually the unseen voice of gameshows like 3-2-1 for example. However, he was more well known for his milk chocolate smooth patter giving us all the low-down on the prizes you could bag on Sale Of The Century (SoTC) on ITV from 1971 to 1983 and made for the network by Anglia Television in the fine city of Norwich.

And its right here in Norwich that you find us on a sunny Tuesday in March 1979 – looking at the staff car park of Anglia Television’s Head Office and studio nerve centre just months before the diggers and construction equipment moved in to build a brand new extra studio and office complex. If we were to dwell on all of the vehicles pictured, this article would take longer to read than it would to watch a whole episode of Tales of the Unexpected, but savour that front row just for measure, eh?

We can clearly see a brace of Viva HCs and a Chevette too, not to mention a Renault 5 Mk1 and a poorly-parked Escort Ghia that’s alongside an Escort Mk2 and a clumsily-left Triumph 1300. Even more British built tin on that row is demonstrated by the Chrysler Avenger and another Vauxhall Viva HC. Other lovelies are the Citroën GS, 1300 estate and Mini parked in a row behind the security box.

Fans of retro mopeds will adore the Yamaha FS1-E – or Fizzie 50 as us old `uns called them that can been seen in the very foreground of the car park. Be still my beating heart, I’ve ridden one or two of them off a jetty into the River Tees when I was none but a pup. The car park is now long gone and the space is now occupied by Townshend House – named in honour of Marquess George Townshend,  co-founder and Chairman of Anglia TV.

The old Mann Egerton “Tern” logo can be clearly seen in the bottom corner of the windscreen on this Mini Mayfair Star Prize in a 1982 episode of Sale of The Century

Round the corner, out of sight, was the former Head Office of the Mann Egerton motor company – a dealer group of once nationwide size majorly dealing in Austin Rover and Jaguar at one point, which was taken over by another group a few years back and the once good name faded away. It was this dealer group that used to supply Anglia TV with cars that would be won either on SoTC or their other networked quiz show Gambit – hosted by the legend who is Fred Dineage.

The TV buildings still stand, although they are badly under-utilised these days, but the surrounding vista is little changed. Norwich was and still is a fine city – it tells you so on the signs as you enter the borough. It’s almost like a little London such is the hustle and bustle during the week, but full of charm and utterly stunning Victorian architecture – if you have never been, you must!

If you’re lucky enough, you might just spot Alan Partridge mooching about the quaint market square.

9 Comments

  1. Wonderful nostalgia, all those lovely Viva HC’s and still such a selection of individualistic motor cars that bore little similarity to any other make!
    Great info about TV world and yes, we’ve been there on our travels but thankfully never seen Partridge.

  2. I recall the “Fine city Norwich” tag line of the Norwich Union insurance company advertisements – usually over a view of the city with the cathedral’s spire prominent against a clear blue (if in colour) sky.

  3. My dad had a new Marina 1.3 DL in 1975 that was supplied by Mann Egerton. Company car leasing was in its infancy I believe at the time, as before this car all his company cars were bought by the company and traded in at two years old. Wonderful memories of times long gone.

  4. I’m sure that the FS1-E Fizzie 50 moped was a Yamaha, not a Suzuki, going back to my motorcycling days

  5. The car park we see is I think is the road Cattle Market Street, as the building on the left can be seen with the apex still there, with the new building next to and not behind the building on the right.

    Before Castle Mall was built it use to be the Old Cattle Market, and I remember trying to find a parking space in there and failing. I can remember my dad moaning when we got back after spending hours in the city and the castle that it cost £5 for parking and that was about 1984!

    As Mike said it is a loverly place to visit, I love Elm Hill as it is unspoilt. The only problem I find is that it is such a busy place it is sometimes difficult to move.

  6. I’ve seen this photo elsewhere, it has a nice selection of cars from the time.

    I remember my Gran had at least one car from a Mann Egerton dealer as she had her car keys on one of their keyrings, I always thought their logo was a seagull!

    • Indeed, it’s one of hundreds that escaped the skip when Anglia had a clear-out Of imagery archive material circa 2003. A pal of mine worked for ITV over that way and he’s run off a few copies of Anglia TV stuff, mainly from the early 80s.

  7. I miss the old ITV and in particular the Anglia knight on his horse. These days there are no regional programmes,,nearly everything is made in London or Salford, and the programmes are mostly downmarket dross like Loose Women or Love Island. Back in 1979, ITV made a huge range of programmes all over the country that were very popular and often very good.

    On another note, it seems car buyers in Norwich seem more patriotic than other parts of the country with most of the cars in the car park being British and Vauxhalls being very popular.

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