Reprinted from Newsletter 91, dated 1999 April

Norbins Road redbrick centenary

Jim Nagel

A black-and-white view along a narrow road. A church tower rises into the sky behind a house at the far end. Brick walls enclose the terraced houses on the right, one of which is covered in ivy. On the left, trees obscure some of the houses. The road is empty both of people and cars, and no overhead wires are visible.
The redbrick terraces built by John Barnett are on the right. Norbins Road looks the same now as a century ago — if you disfigure this 1903 postcard with overhead wires and a zillion temporarily abandoned cars.

Down behind St John’s Church in what was once the “north vineyards,” the last of the red-brick terraces of Norbins Road were being built exactly 100 years ago.

Others say, probably more correctly, that Norbins is a corruption of “northern enclosure” (North Binne), referring to land that in the middle ages was part of the Abbey. —Ed. 2018

The builder, John Barnett, began at the lower end: that's why Number 1 is nearest Manor House Road. He built roughly one terrace a year. Finally, in 1899, in upper Norbins Road he constructed “Grosvenor House” (number 31) for himself: that’s why it’s larger than any of the others. This fine house has been the palazzo of the Poeti family for the past 40 years.

Most of the houses on the east side of Norbins Road were built later. Thus the numbers run up one side and down the other, rather than in the usual odd-even pattern, to the confusion of many delivery vans.

This view from Paul Branson’s collection was mailed to Ohio in either 1903 or 1909 (even then, postmarks were illegible — and Somerset already had its own way’s with apostrophe’s).

Isn’t it strange that in the days of horses and waggons, nobody would have dreamt of leaving them cluttering the streets, but as soon as the horseless carriage came along it was considered willy-nilly right and proper to park them absolutely everywhere?