Great to catch up with Nick Stone last night ahead of our event at Norwich Arts Centre on Friday evening. We met at the Whalebone pub at the bottom of St Clement’s Hill. It was an apt spot to meet and talk about our mutual interest in Norwich’s blitz ordeal. Not far from here, the terraces that straddle the hill and straggle out from Magdalen Road were rocked by a series of explosions as a rain of high explosive signalled the start of the Baedeker assault 70 years ago.
With the City Station lit by flares as a marking point, bombs fell thick and fast across the residential streets on both sides of the river. Rosebery Road, Traverse Street and Northcote Road all felt the force of the indiscriminate bombing. Incendiaries added to the terror and the destruction as homes collapsed into burning ruins.
Today, many of those tragic scenes have been recaptured by Nick as part of his haunting Ghost Blitz photographs that seek to marry a ghastly an unfamiliar past with the peaceful present. His own Norwich terrace, an early inspiration for his work, displays a typical juxtaposition of the pre-war and post-war side by side in a jarring attempt to disguise blitz disfigurement. Such scenes are repeated all across the city as Nick’s stunning collection of photographs illustrate all too graphically.
No other pictures I have ever seen present a more poignant impression of the carnage that was wrought across the city during the spring and summer of 1942. Seeing them never fails to move me. If you haven’t already taken a look at them make sure not to miss Stacia Briggs’ upcoming article in the Evening News. Or better still pop along to the Norwich Arts Centre tomorrow night at 7pm and see them displayed on screen. You’ll also hear the remarkable personal story behind Nick’s blitz odyssey that shows no sign of ending just yet.