Described as facing – short Bethel Street (now called Little Bethel Street) and the lunatic hospital (Mary Chapman House opposite) these three properties were part of a street lined with small shops, houses and courtyards during the 19th century. The shops in the street included boot and shoemakers, grocers, tailors, hairdressers, fishmonger, furniture broker, watchmaker, baker, confectioner and lodging house. The Norwich Directory of 1883 lists Andrew R. Massingham as the baker at No. 48, Samuel Jerred as coachman at No. 46 and Mr Howard Junior & Sons as woodcarvers at No. 44. The misses Elizabeth and Sarah Nichols are identified as dressmakers at No. 42.
There are numerous references to the Coach and Horses pub, (which remains in the street today), along with the Coachmakers Arms, Kings Arms and the Wheatsheaf. The Wheatsheaf pub was listed as No. 3 Bethel Street and Kings Arms stood at No. 7. These would have been on the site, where the Forum now stands. The Coachmakers Arms , stood at No. 36 on the site where the Fire-station stands.
Mrs Matilda E. Springall, is registered as living at Springalls court in 1883 and Springalls court is listed in the Jarrold’s Norwich Directory in 1896 as being between No. 44 and 46 Bethel Street. It is still possible to see part of a brick arch in the current Greenhouse kitchen that indicates where the entrance to the yard at the rear of 42 once was.
The facade of 42- 48 was constructed around 1909. In 1997, whilst the floor of the existing shop was being altered, it was possible to see where the house at No. 46 had once had its own internal chimney breast and dividing walls. These had been removed during the 1930’s in order to create the first printing works (Goose Press).
The 1897 annual – of the Ancient Order of Foresters refers to the Norwich Branch, known as the ‘Sons of Freedom’. Many of the Jarrold, Gurney and Colman families were involved. Jeremiah J. Colman, Sherifff in 1862/63 and Mayor in 1887/8 is amongst the early Norwich Foresters. The Foresters purchase No’s 42,44 and 46 for £1,415.
By 1911. The 2nd Field Ambulance (R.A.M.C.) Territorial Force is identified as occupying No. 44. Isaac Eagle is listed as the resident coachman. This would indicate that the Ancient Order of Foresters operated from No. 42. and this is confirmed in Kelly’s directory of 1924, which lists Ernest William Seaman as both the shopkeeper at No. 42 and the Secretary of the Ancient Order of Foresters.
In January of 1928 the buildings are bought by the Rev. Goose for the sum of £1,600. The sale is listed as the purchase to two shops (42, 44), along with enclosed garden at rear of 42 and coachman’s cottage (the flat above the passageway at No. 44), which is occupied by members of the Goose family until the death of Rev. Goose in 1954.
In 1946, the property is leased to Messrs Colman, Sutton and Le Dieu who rename the printers Modern Press and bring in new lead type machinery. Many of the older pieces of printing equipment were donated to Jarrold’s printing museum by the Greenhouse Trust on arrival in 1993. The lease of the building to the original Modern Press Company continued after the death of Rev. Goose until 1954. In 1979 Norwich City Council purchase the property from the estate of Rev. Goose for £19,000. Modern Press continue to be council tenants. Alfred E Gudgin is listed in Kellys’ Directory as the last occupant of the coachman’s residence (No.44) in 1960. No. 44 becomes part of the printing works during this time. Some of interior décor from the 1900’s remained until the Greenhouse Trust began reconstruction work. However, with virtually no maintenance or investment made in the property since the mid 1950’s the building is in a very poor state. Many of the finishings in the existing Greenhouse are based on decorative remnants left behind.
Modern Press cease to use the industrial steam radiators in the building (re-installed in the Greenhouse) and the owners demolish the boiler house and paper store in the garden. The yard of 42 is concreted over and a steel framed workshop built on the original garden site. Modern Press Ltd., is taken over by Mr John Farr and Mike Murphy who purchase the property from Norwich City Council in 1989 for £98,000 and run the printing works until 1993.
In November 1993 the buildings are bought by the Greenhouse Trust for £153,000. The building is semi-derelict and in need of major repair and renovation. After a decade of building work and major funding the building can now be appreciated as both a historic building given new life, and a listed building fit for the future.