A brief history of

The Charing Cross Centre



Serving the city

Compiled by

The Revd Ron Ingamells

My thanks to

Andrew Good (Charing Cross Centre Manager)

David Ford (Chairman) for proof reading and suggestions

Antony Jarrold, Ann Polley and others for help with the history

Barbara Miller for the early history of the building.

Sarah Beaumont


E.D.P. for press cuttings



Introduction by David Ford, Chairman of the Charing Cross Centre.

The Charing Cross Centre has existed in one form or another since 1962 and it has played a vital role in providing convenient, effective and safe accommodation for many local charities and organisations mainly involved in the sector delivering care, counselling, rehabilitation and community welfare.

We are proud that this tradition continues today with increased activity.

Our Centre has always concentrated on providing services for young people, assisting them to mature and develop by providing support facilities, further education, training and recreation. This has ensured our continuing charitable status. As you will read from this history of the Centre, our contribution to the wellbeing of the local community has taken many forms. While our main focus remains on young people, our accommodation has now expanded into other vital fields in the charity sector whose essential services are relied on more and more by the general public in Norwich, Norfolk and sometimes further afield.

There are nine charities with a permanent base in the Centre and at the last count seventy five community groups who hire our rooms, many of them on a regular basis. Our busy days start at 8am and finish at 9.30pm Monday to Friday.

As this history shows the trustees purchased the building from Norfolk County Council in 1999 following extensive refurbishment. The Centre’s management works hard to maintain financial viability and ensure that accommodation is used to maximum capacity.

Over the years the Centre has received good support from both Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council who recognise the contribution the Centre makes to local community life. However, financial constraints over the last decade have meant the Centre has had to respond appropriately and we are pleased that we are doing this successfully.

Since our opening day we have benefitted enormously from the dedication of so many volunteers and from such a loyal and hardworking staff.

The trustees are pleased to present this history written by the Rev Ron Ingamells, who was chair of the trustees from 1975 until 1978, when he left Norwich only to return some years later. We are indebted to him for this comprehensive study of the Centre’s unique activities and the part it continues to play in our city life.


History of the St. John Maddermarket Area and the Charing Cross Building 15th and 16th Centuries

The area around St. John Maddermarket was rich in great houses for it abuts onto the river, the highway of early Norwich – by far the easiest method of transporting heavy goods. Living next to the river was of prime importance. The name of the church commemorates the Madder root, an important component of the dyeing trade in the area. In 1339 the Monks of Norwich had 24 beds of madder near the Churchyard of St. Mary-in-the-Marsh.

Strangers’ Hall, nearby, is one of Norwich’s most historic buildings. This magnificent Tudor house has been home to many of the city’s leading citizens since the 14th century. There has been a substantial building on this plot since the 13th century or possibly even earlier.

Many other great houses have been destroyed but interesting evidence can be found by a careful search of interiors and ground plans. One such house was the foundation of what is now the Charing Cross Centre.

It was probably owned by Ralf Segrym who was elected Mayor in 1451 having also represented Norwich in Parliament. He gave money to repair the city walls and the Guildhall. He died in 1456 and his wife Agnes, who lived another 20 years, are both buried in St. John’s Maddermarket Church.

It is most likely that the house was occupied in the early 16th century by John Briggs Marsham who was born in Stratton Strawless in 1446. He served as Sherriff in 1510 and Mayor in 1518. He was a grocer and merchant which brought him considerable wealth. He married Elizabeth Claxton and they had 5 sons and 8 daughters. In 1511 and in 1516 he went to London to represent the city in a quarrel between the Cathedral Priory and the city. John Marsham died in 1525 and his wife in 1559. Their brass is part of the great Maddermarket collection and John’s portrait is in the city’s collection.

The son of John and Elizabeth lived in a house on the corner of Bedford Street, now part of Jarrolds. He is listed as a mercer, a cloth merchant and served as Alderman, Sheriff and burgess in parliament as well as Mayor.

Another man to live in the area of the Charing Cross Centre was Robert Rugge, Mayor in 1545 and brother of the Bishop of Norwich who resigned in 1549 over his behaviour in Kett’s rebellion. Robert served as a magistrate for the trial of the rebels. He was Sherriff in 1537 and Mayor in 1545 and again in 1550. Cellars under the building are considered to be the remnants of his house. He was buried in St. John’s Maddermarket.

Barbara Miller, local historian, gave a talk to the Charing Cross Centre A.G.M in 1983. Barbara said that the House was a Tudor House, timber framed, with wattle and plaster fill-in and the area of the wooden beams in the then Coffee Bar there was a well.  When some restoration work took place, clay pipes were found and could have been ‘throw-away’. The cellar was probably used by the pub ‘Golden Lion’. The reception area of the current building was open to the sky.

St. John Maddermarket then went into in decline. In 1783 No. 15 was the Golden Lion and in No.16 there was a Hog and Fat Boiler. Second hand clothes were sold and there were tallow makers.

The 1883 Directory listed Charles Dennes, Upholsterer at No. 17 and Thomas Boswell, Perambulators at No 19

1896 The Norwich Directory records that Charles Dennes ‘perambulator and rocking horse manufacture’ lived and worked here and it remained ‘Dennes House Furnishers’ until the 1950’s.

In 1954 the building was ‘Sloane Alexander and Co. Ltd House Furnishers’.

In 1964 the building was empty until it was taken over by the Norwich Education Committee and opened as the Threes C’s Coffee Bar.

3C’s Coffee Bar 1962 – 1972

A brief history of the 3 C’s was given by the chairman of the club Mr Andrew Pollok in January 1973.

Quote “ founded in 1962 the aim of the club as stated in its constitution was to ‘help and educate girls and boys through their leisure time activities to develop their physical, mental and spiritual capacities so they grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society and that their conditions of living may be improved’.

This is a typical ‘Statement of Aims’ in these years to ensure that the organisation received charitable status and funding from local authorities, Trusts and government. The Club was the concept of the Norwich City Education Committee and the Youth and Community sub-committee. It was therefore closely related to the City’s Education Committee’s concept of care for young people in the city centre.

The Norfolk Education Youth and Community sub-committee minutes 26th May 1965 stated that £3000 was urgently required for building renovation.

Further extracts from the minutes of the sub-committee state

‘In June 1965 the Constitution having been approved by the Department of Education and Science was adopted by the Norwich Education Committee. A lease of seven years with the option of a further seven was offered to the Management Committee.’

An Appeal was launched and supported by the President – Lord MacIntosh of Halifax. At this time the secretary was Antony Jarrold and the treasurer G.B. Boyd. The alterations progressed well and by November 1965 additional staffing was required due to numbers attending the 3 C’s being greater than anticipated.

In March 1966 a 28 year lease was agreed in order to obtain a grant from the Department of Education and Science


For about 7 years Jeremy Burnett was the manager/leader of the 3 C’s, working with Joan Norton as the assistant leader. Jeremy Burnett was highly regarded for his special relationship with many young people who were not attracted to the usual youth centres and facilities. After he left the post it was generally recognised that the 3 C’s was not being as effective as previously.

In October 1971 Mr. A. Murphy was appointed Manager with Joan Norton assisting when able to do so. Joan left in September 1972.


 2 posts from Norwich Rockers on 3 C’s Facebook (dates uncertain)

Have been researching the history of the 3c’s, the only mention on the internet to date is connected with Charing Cross Centre. Info only says that the cafe was opened in 1965 and closed in 1973, run by Norwich Education Committee as a coffee bar for young people. Boy did they get a shock when us lot took up residence!! Bit of a wonder it lasted so long as Police hated the place and campaigned for ages to get it shut down. A sympathetic solicitor fought tooth and nail against the eventual decision for closure. Little did the Police realise that a lot of their ‘persons of interest’ were in one place most of the time!!!!!

The original entrance to the bike park is bricked up and the present entrance is through what used to be the girls toilet area. The old kitchen and serving counter is gone and the space is now an office. The manager’s office is where the end of the counter was, the secretary sits where the helmets and jackets were put. The toilet at the far end of downstairs is now a kitchenette and toilet. Upstairs is totally renovated into separate offices, M&F toilets, and interview rooms. It’s all very clean and tidy and modern but it is still OUR place isn’t it?

Manager’s Report 1972

An interesting report was presented by the then manager Anthony Murphy to the Governing body in September 1972. In this he outlined many of the problems facing lots of young people in Norwich which he had recognised during the past year. He highlighted the problem of unemployment and the increasing drug use. He also spoke of ‘the awful loneliness of so many of our clients’. He reported on the influx of ‘Satan’s Slaves’ – at one time a motor cycle group but now travelling in vans and/or cars. Apparently having caused not a little disturbance in different places, about 50 of them came to the 3C’s and Anthony stated ‘At no time have they caused trouble with us and one young man said “This is one of the few places in Norwich we can come to and not feel we have to fight, thanks for letting us in mate”.

Anthony Murphy summarised the situation of many of the clients as follows ‘This year has been the year of the lonely young person. The lonely drug abuser, the lonely law breaker and the lonely young person fighting for his true identity’


In January 1973 the chairman, Mr. Pollok, stated in his Chairman’s Report

“Those who have supported the club can claim without fear of contradiction that in the years 1962 – 1972 the club carried out its aim with considerable success”

This view was echoed by the Director of Education, Charles Harrison, when he reported to the Education Committee that the Management Committee had ‘decided to cease trading following the resignation of two members of staff.  ‘I am of the opinion that the objectives which were set for the 3 C’s in 1964 have been met and surpassed. The circumstances and the methods are no longer applicable in the 1970’s.’

Mr Pollock also said in his report that the club “…did produce beneficial and lasting results and in large measure was the driving force which was responsible for the creation of the Umbrella Housing Group and the St. Edmunds Society”.



Following the closure of the 3 C’s there were many discussions both within the Management Committee, the City Education Committee and Social Services about the future use of the building…

On 23rd January 1974 a proposal was made by the Social Services Committee that the building should be used for ‘The establishment of a day centre for a variety of uses mainly concerned with mental disorder and child care/Intermediate Treatment’. The proposal was to work with the Norfolk Association for Mental Health and that work in Sembal House, the Saville Club and the Mary Chapman Club could be transferred to the 3 C’s. A room could also be used by the Society for Mentally Handicapped Children. This proposal went to Mr. Meredith (Norwich Social Services).

On 29th January 1974 Mr. Horace Wilkinson, Norfolk A.C.R.O. wrote to Antony Jarrold thanking him for the opportunity to visit the premises. On behalf of the NACRO committee he proposed that following consultation with other voluntary organisations working in the homeless sector. They considered that there was a real need for the establishment of an Assessment and Referral Unit. He suggested that the 3 C’s building should be used under the management of NACRO for the re-settlement of single homeless people. Also, that accommodation be provided for persons of either sex who are remanded on bail and also the provision of day care facilities as proposed by the Criminal Justice Act 1972.

Antony Jarrold called a meeting of the Governing Body on 28th March 1974 to discuss the future of the building. In the calling letter he referred to the decision of the Education (Youth and Community) Sub-committee to withdraw all support from the club. Quote ‘The Officers then had discussions with members of the Social Services Department. Before any reply had been received from the Social Services Department concerning their interest in the Charing Cross Club, a letter had been received from NACRO’. At this stage the alternative proposals were that the Management Committee could …

  1. Work in association with the Social Services Department
  2. To negotiate with the Norwich Corporation for the lease of the major part of the premises to be transferred to the Norfolk Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders for use as an assessment and referral hostel and day-training centre, the Club retaining a small part of the new premises for itself
  3. The Charing Cross Club be wound up.

The then Chairman of the Charing Cross Club, Mr A. Pollock said that his personal view was that the ‘true purpose of the club would continue to be fulfilled if the club now work with the Social Services Committee’.

The Local Government Act 1972 came into force on 1st April 1974. This meant that Norfolk County Council took over responsibility for the Norwich Social Services


On the 18th April 1974 the Assistant Director of Social Services, Mr. D. Thomas, reported to a meeting attended by representatives of Sembal House, the Intermediate Treatment Officer, City Adult Training Centre Manager and other Social Service Committee members.

Mr. Thomas stated that ‘… the Education Committee have asked Social Services to take on the running of the premises’. The basic idea was to provide day care opportunities for a number of groups of clients under the age of 25 such as recreational and social activities for a young group of the mentally subnormal who attend the Adult Training Centre and for parents.

Mr Harry Watson was appointed as the Social Services officer relating to the Club.

The next record available are the minutes of the Management committee 0n 26th November 1974. Mr. Pollock was unable to attend so the Revd. Ron Ingamells was elected Chairman for the meeting.

It was reported that John Crane had applied for the post of Warden/Caretaker. As finances were uncertain he was appointed for an initial three months. It was agreed that the premises be used by a number of organisations – Pre-School Playgroup Association; the Drop in Women’s Group; the Umbrella Group; Sembal House Social events. A number of bookings were reported from Foster Parent Information; Gingerbread Group; and the Women’s Liberation Group.   It was agreed to open the coffee bar on Sundays for young people.  It was estimated that the rent, rates and insurance for a full year would be about £900.

An article in the Eastern Evening News in October 1974 by Marguerite Sherman described the setting up a year previously of a Drop-In Centre for young lonely mums. Liz Kelly had recognised this need and found premises in the YMCA in St. Giles. More space was required and so the Drop-In Centre moved to the Charing Cross Centre in the autumn of 1974. The report stated that members of the group had been ‘busy painting and decorating their new home’. It was officially opened as an informal Drop-In Centre on Tuesday 5th November to help with the loneliness of young mums.

By 1975 the Revd. Ron Ingamells had been appointed Chairman.  In his report to the AGM on 22nd September 1975 he said that a new era began in 1974 when the Charing Cross Club re-opened as a multi-purpose social services centre. A number of committee members had withdrawn, some because of the change of direction and others who had served for many years. Thanks were expressed to all who had been involved with the original concept of the club. He felt that there was a great opportunity to use these central buildings for the good of the whole community. Many groups had applied to use the centre and priority had been given to those concerned with young people.

Regular users now included:-

Pre-School Playgroups Association; Drop in Centre for mothers and children; The Anchorage Club; social workers counselling young people; Intermediate Treatment Group; Umbrella Housing; Gingerbread Group; Sunday Coffee Bar; Norwich Women’s Liberation Movement; ‘Off the Record’ Young People’s Advisory Service; Norwich Arts Workshop and Child-Minders.  Users meetings were held regularly.

The relationship with Social Services was proving rewarding and thanks were expressed to the liaison officer Harry Watson, the Senior Community Services Officer, Central Group. The main source of income during this time was the Charity Shop, which was shared with the Salvation Army. Special thanks were expressed for the work of Antony Jarrold, the retiring secretary for his commitment to the 3 C’s and the Centre. Mr. Michael Cole was co-opted as secretary. Help had been received from the Hewitt and Costessey Schools and NOAH (Norwich Organisation for Active Help) in decorating the premises. Ron Ingamells, the Chairman, was thanked for his contribution to the Centre.

1977 – 79

The Eastern Evening News of 17th March 1977 reported that ‘A grant of £22000 under the Job Creation programme for work at the Charing Cross Centre in St. John Maddermarket, is one of the few grants the programme has made in Norfolk for schemes by voluntary organisations. It is appropriate that this multi-purpose community centre should be helped in this way. The grant is to be used to pay the wages of a supervisor, three trades people and nine trainees. One part of the work they will be doing is to create a gift shop at the front of the building.’

In July 1977 Ron Ingamells listed new groups using the Centre, which included N.O.A.H. (Volunteer Centre) and Agoraphobics. NOAH became a key permanent organisation and played a large part in the future development when Ann Polley was the Chief Executive of NOAH, which eventually became Norwich Volunteer Bureau. The Manager of the Centre now was Malcolm Gale.

Also in July 1977 a letter to Harry Watson, Ron Ingamells highlighted the current situation: – 1. Norfolk Social Services had given a ‘once and for all’ grant of £300 to enable current work to continue. 2. The Management Committee had agreed to sponsor a Job Creation Scheme to rebuild the ground floor, to include a shop, a snack bar and improved facilities for organisations which use the centre. 3. The shop is now complete and will open shortly. 4. Under the Job Creation Scheme the work on the ground floor will continue until October. 5. The Housing Committee have put the Centre’s first and second floor development plan for a 25 bed hostel for young people as a priority for Housing Corporation funding in the present financial year.

On 13th October 1977 the Chairman of the Centre, Revd. Ron Ingamells, welcomed the Under Secretary of State for Employment, the Right Honorable John Golding, and expressed the thanks of the  Management Committee for the help given by the Job Creation Scheme. Mr. Golding in opening the renovated Centre said he was impressed by the building work done and thanked the Centre for the continuing commitment in supporting many voluntary organisations.


The event was attended by Mr. John Garrett M.P.; the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Norwich and the chairman of Norfolk County Council. Mr. Golding praised Norfolk employers for aiding jobless young people to get proper work experience and training. He announced a grant from the Manpower Services Commission for a further 12 week extension to complete the work and make more meeting rooms available.

Following the renovations, the gift and craft shop opened in August and in October a restaurant and coffee bar were opened. John Crane, the Manager said ‘We want to make ourselves more viable’

In March 1978 the Social Services committee agreed a grant of £15000 for structural repairs.

Later in 1978 the Revd. Ron Ingamells retired as Chairman due to moving from Norwich. Joyce Morgan was appointed Chairman.

Michael Cole was elected as Secretary.






The Centre had a very special visitor in 1978 when the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque for the Norwich and District Carers Forum recognising their new headquarters in the Centre. About fifty carers were able to talk to the Princess about their work.

David Todd, the chief executive of the forum, said ‘It is very important for us as a network member of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers to have her come and visit us. We are celebrating 15 years of hard work. On an annual basis we have 500 new clients but in the support group we have more than 3000 carers.’

During the visit Princess Anne also met civic leaders including the Lord Mayor, Jeremy Hooke, and the chairman of Norfolk County Council, Wyndham Northam.


At the 1979 AGM Joyce Morgan referred to the departure of Ron Ingamells from Norwich ‘He was appointed in 1974 and his creative ideas had been invaluable to the Centre’.

Image used courtesy Archant Library ©


Joyce Morgan also reported

  1. Norfolk County Council recognised the usefulness of the Centre and had increased their grant to enable the appointment of a full-time administrator.
  2. In January 1979 Eric Payton had become the Centre Manager.
  3. New users included meditation classes; Justice for Children; Adult Literacy; Friend; advisory service and others.
  4. The Restaurant was doing well and under the Work Experience Scheme nine girls had worked with the catering staff and seven of them went on to other jobs.
  5. The craft shop had not been a success and would reopen as a 50-Fifty shop run by volunteers.
  6. The building was in a dangerous condition and Norfolk County Council had agreed to renovate it.


The Norwich Mercury, under the heading

‘CONSOLIDATION TIME AT THE CENTRE’ reported that ‘Mr. Eric Payton, the former boss of Payton Cleaning Supplies, a firm which he started and built up, having previously been a director of Bizley’s, the Norwich cleaning company, had a change of career when he became Director of the Charing Cross Centre. 

 ‘Mr. Payton will be responsible for the Centre’s continued development as a home for many of Norwich’s caring and counselling organisations as well as being in charge of the Centre’s two public ventures – the Cedars shop which sells a wide range of craft work and the Cedars Restaurant which has a duel role in serving both the users of the Centre and the public.

Mr. Payton explained this week that he had been concerned in a voluntary capacity with several community ventures and applied for the post of the Centre’s director because he wanted to concentrate more on community work than on commercial enterprises. His company is now being run by a manager.

He has been active for several years with NACRO, the Norfolk Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, of which he was Chairman for three years. He has worked voluntarily with the probation service and is a trustee of the Archway Committee which aims to set up a Norwich young women’s hostel. Mr. Payton replaces Mr. Geoffrey Newman, who was the temporary director for the last four months of 1978. During that time the Centre benefited from an internal redecoration programme undertaken by Community Service volunteers.

Mr. Payton feels that further activities could be developed in the Charing Cross Centre’s own name. But amongst the most important aspects of its work is the facilities provided for other organisations which otherwise have no premises. He hopes that further interaction between the organisations using the building can be arranged and that the list of the Centre users can be increased.

Among those present using the Centre are the Headway Project, a day Centre for ex mental hospital patients, NOAH, the Norwich organization for Active help which exists to offer help, mainly to young people, in a variety of community roles; CRUSE group for widows and widowers, Gingerbread for one-parent families, Help the Aged, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Umbrella Group, Woman’s Lib, the Childminders Association, Pre-School Playgroups Association, Norwich Arts Workshop, Life (the anti-abortion group), the Norfolk and Norwich Mentally Handicapped Club and the Wayout Club for agoraphobics.

Newspaper materials used courtesy Archant Library ©


By the end of 1979 it was clear that the building was in a dangerous state with the derelict unused rooms. On the 7th December the EDP headed the following article

Action call to council over ‘dangerous’ welfare HQ’

Organisers the city’s Charing Cross Centre, worried about the condition of part of their building, are urging the landlords, Norfolk County Council to take urgent action. The centre’s chairman Mrs Joyce Morgan, said there was no doubt the building was in a dangerous condition, and the landlords had said they would renovate it.

Meanwhile, the roof finds new places to leak and areas on the first and second floors lie derelict and deteriorating, she said. Mrs Morgan said the organisers were urging the council to repair it as soon as possible. From outside the front wall in St. John Maddermarket looked reasonably safe, she said, but inside the old brickwork was crumbling.                                            While it was not disturbed, she thought it reasonably safe but said they would be concerned if a very heavy load shook the building.The county council was aware of the building’s condition, she said, and sent someone round every month to look at it. “They are just as concerned as we are” she declared.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Image used courtesy Archant Library ©

The Building dates back to the 15th century, but Mr. Eric Payton, the centre director, said there had been numerous modifications and extensions over the years. The ground floor and small part of the first floor is leased to the centre, which acts as a venue for local welfare and community organisations, with the support of a grant from Norfolk Social Services.

It is used by five organisations, including Norwich organisation of Active Help and the Third World Centre, on a daily basis; a further 14 on a regular basis and many more for occasional meetings, but the bad condition makes it an inconvenient building, said Mr. Payton. “The roof leaks and increases our maintenance problems” he said, adding that stock had been damaged by water and there had been floods in the toilets and offices. When the work has been carried out, he said they would hope to be able to expand their activities and be able to cater for more organisations. Mrs Morgan agreed there was valuable space in those areas, space they could make good use of. This week Mr. Bernard Farrant press relations officer for Norfolk County Council, said there was no immediate danger at the centre, although it was agreed the building was not in a good condition. The repairs, he said, were on a list approved to be done, and the county council had done a survey and was at present preparing a scheme of work for the building. He said they hoped to be able to start in the spring. The work will involve erecting a steel structure inside the building to support it.

Newspaper materials used courtesy Archant Library ©


1980 – 1987

Press reports in 1980 headlined the fact that £70,000 was urgently required to restore the Centre. Mr. George Meredith reported to Norfolk Social Services that money was required in the financial year 1981/2. This proposal was opposed by some members of the County Council. Mr Lionel Carey proposed that the Centre be given away, possibly to Norwich City Council. Gillian Shepherd, Margaret English and others defeated this proposal.

The following article was reported in the EEN on 21st of November 1980

‘£70,000 Needed to Restore Centre’

Norfolk County Council is being urged to spend £70,000 on urgent rebuilding of the Charing Cross Centre in Norwich. For the top two floors of the building – dating from the 15th century and used by many local organisations – are in a bad state. In a report on Monday’s social services committee, which owns the centre, director of social services Mr. George Meredith says money would have to be made available in 1981-82 because the work was urgent. “The upper two storeys of the building need urgent and extensive rebuilding to make them safe, and prevent further deterioration,” He says. Restoring the centre would enable its management committee to increase the scope of its activities, and some of the space which would be made available on the first floor could be used to relieve pressure on accommodation in social services offices at Seebohm House, the report adds.

He recommends the committee to allow £70,000 in its capital budget for 1981-82 for the work. Deputy County architect Mr. Tony Twiggs told the “EEN”: “The top two storeys are not being used because of their condition. “We want to rebuild the façade and these storeys. It could start half-way through next year if we get the money,” he said.

One possibility the architects are looking at for strengthening the centre is to install a hidden steel skeleton. The building is used daily by the Norwich Organisation for Active Help, Friends of the Earth and other organisations. Other users include the Adult Literacy Group and the Norwich Women’s Liberation Group.       

At the Annual meeting the chairman, Mrs Joyce Morgan, appealed for temporary accommodation for the many groups using the building during the time that it was to be restored recognising that the Centre had been declared unsafe and needed major repairs. She said “We have got so many groups helping so many people here and they haven’t got accommodation,” she said. “Valuable work that they are doing will simply stop. Even when we move back in it will take months for these groups to set up again.” She warned that the closure of the Charing Cross Centre would leave a big hole in the city. Mrs. Morgan appealed to businesses, clubs and any other organisations to help. “It would be nice if we could move everybody out in a block, in a centre building if possible,” she continued. “But failing that we could split the groups up into smaller accommodation. “I think we would be capable of paying some rent, but one of the reasons we have all those groups is because the rent is relatively low.”

Newspaper materials used courtesy Archant Library ©

Mr Eric Payton said that negotiations were taking place to find alternative temporary accommodation for all the groups during the time of rebuilding.

Many of the organisations were relocated with the help of other bodies including Norwich City Council.

At the 1980 AGM it was reported that in spite of the dangerous condition of the building and the need for renovation more organisations were using the Centre including an expansion of The Headway Project and Adult Literature.

A press report in 1983 stated

Renovating the Charing Cross Centre in Norwich was “a triumph of idealism over reality” the chairman of Norwich Social Services admitted today. For the county council initially opposed plans to rebuild the centre at St John Maddermarket, base for many local caring organisations. But after a year of work costing £180,000, the centre was reopened by council chairman Sqn. Ldr. Harold Oliver today. He praised the “volunteer army of unsung heroes and heroines” at the centre who tackled the problems of children, youth, the disabled and the environment. Social services chairman Mrs. Gillian Shepard said the project was the result of co-operation between the county which had contributed £105,000, Norwich Health Authority which had given £45,000 and centre organisers who had raised £30,000.

Newspaper materials used courtesy Archant Library ©


Repair work was required in 1983 and there was an appeal in the press for temporary accommodation while the work was undertaken.

Mrs. Gillian Shepherd, Chairman of Social Services, congratulated the management team and highlighted good financial and progress reports.

Progress continued with more users and a successful 50/50 charity shop with a profit of £7000. Much of this success was due to Joyce Morgan’s hard work. Sadly the restaurant made a loss of £3000.

The Norfolk County Council decided to renovate the building, parts of which are 16th century. The Management Committee raised £21000 for the building fund. Temporary accommodation was arranged for the centre’s organisations.

By 1983 big changes had taken place. Joyce Morgan reported that ‘… in January 1982 we moved out to 5 Unthank Road so that the builders John Youngs Ltd could tackle the major renovations planned by the landlords, Norfolk County Council. Soon the roof was off; the medieval timber frames exposed and the floors had huge holes to take new girders.’

By the end of 1982 the first floor, which had been derelict for thirty years, was transformed and the ground floor altered. The renovation created nine offices for the resident organisations and five rooms for meetings. Without the income from the 50/50 shop the centre would not be able to continue. In 1984 more use was made of the premises for meetings (750 in total). The restaurant showed a serious loss.

By 1985 the Centre was clearly established in the Norwich scene and 1186 sessions took place with nine organisations having permanent offices. A separate company for trading purposes was set up for Tax purposes with profits for the Centre.

1986 – 1991

Joyce Morgan reported to the 1986 Annual Meeting that the Committee had decided not to ask Social Services for a grant due to the success of the 50/50 Charity Shop and a healthy state of finances. Joyce said ‘I feel it is a matter of congratulation to the Management Committee, the Centre’s staff and especially to the efforts of the workers in the 50/50 Charity Shop that we are now able to be financially self-supporting’. Three new organisations joined the Centre – the Spastic Society, the Voluntary Hostels group and Social Services sponsored psychiatric centre. During this year 1,493 sessions were booked in rooms in the centre.

Eric Payton, the Centre Manager, retired in 1987 after 6 years.  Eric’s hard work in developing the centre was recognised. Negotiations took place with the Charity Commissioners about forming a Trading Company could to provide income for the Charitable Trust.

In 1990 19 volunteers were assisting in the shop and centre. The Norfolk Autistic Society was welcomed to the Centre.

The chairman reported a worrying future financial situation due to the County Council’s decision to charge commercial rents. The 50% rebate on the rent was withdrawn retrospectively to May 1889.

At the 1991 AGM it was reported that the Pre-School Playgroup moved due to lack of funds. The Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility moved into the vacant space and the Norwich Volunteer Bureau extended their use of the building.   In addition the following groups joined – Multiple Sclerosis Society; Norfolk Friend; Norfolk Family Conciliation Service; The Norfolk Autistic Society; Life Care and Housing Trust; Adult Survivors of Incest and the Norfolk County Council Social services Reception Team.

1992 – 1998

During the year 1992 it was decided not to re-open the coffee bar after ‘… the unsavoury and expensive experience with past tenants’. The space created was redeveloped to bring in more income. After five years as Treasurer Mr. Bearne retired.

The Cedar’s Coffee Bar area was re-developed to provide a purpose built space for Social Services. The John Marsham Room was now occupied by Norwich and District Voluntary Services. The Treasurer, Mrs Meacock, informed the AGM that the breakeven aim had been achieved in spite of legal costs in obtaining a new 20 year lease.

In 1992 Long Service Awards were presented to Mr H. Watson and Mr. S Cooper.

By 1995 the loft space had been converted into four extra rooms, a waiting area and a lift installed which enabled the Centre to build on the expansion of the early 1980s. At the AGM members noted Joyce Morgan’s and Antony Jarrold’s over 30 year service and involvement with the Centre. During these years the Centre had been developed from a ground floor coffee bar in its early years to a thriving Charity support and service organisation. Ann Polley proposed a vote of thanks to both of them.

The Lord Mayor Councillor Rory Quinn attended the AGM and had only recently realised the extent of voluntary work undertaken in the city. The Centre’s Report in 1997 was presented by Ann Polley due to Joyce Morgan‘s absence.. Over 1000- young people are now taking advantage of the diverse range of services and activities now available at the Centre. A large grant of £150000 from the National Lotteries Board had been received in order to secure the future of the Centre by allowing the Trustees to buy the building.

The Intercept Retail Trading Project became operational in October 1996. Christine Capon reported 51 trainees had enrolled, with 15 now employed, 8 going on to further education at City College, 5 on maternity leave, 12 in work placements. 21 NVQ Retail qualifications had been presented.

At the 1998 AGM Mrs Joyce Morgan announced her retirement after 20 years. Mr Jarrold presented her with gifts and thanked her for the considerable contribution she had made to the Charing Cross Centre. Ann Polley asked members to approve the appointment of Mrs. Morgan to the position of Life President of the Centre and it was unanimously agreed.

At this meeting the Lord Mayor presented Certificates to 7 successful Intercept Project trainees.
The Constitution was also amended and updated.



1999 was a very significant year when the Trustees of the Centre purchased the freehold.

With the purchase of the premises In November, Antony Jarrold, the chairman in 1999, presented the Annual Report and confirmed that the first phase of maintenance and improvement work would be complete in December. The Treasurer Mrs. Meacock reported that the huge increase in tangible fixed assets provided evidence of the Centre growth ’… from humble beginnings, through hard times, to the modern and exciting building it is today’.

The death of Stanley Cooper, a long standing and vigorous member of the Centre was reported in 2000

Another long-serving member’s death that of Mr. Rick Risebrook was reported in 2001.

By 2001 seventeen organisations were in residence and over 75 Voluntary Groups used the Centre.

The Union of Catholic Mothers gave a generous donation in 2002 as they had chosen the Centre for their Charity of the Year.                                            Newspaper materials used courtesy Archant Library ©

The Centre also played a large part in the expansion of SOS – Home Safe and Sound Project. The Centre also signed up to the Norfolk Compact providing a framework for partnership and best practice.

The Centre continued to progress during 2014 with full occupancy of all room space and fulfilling its aims of offering meeting and working space for appropriate charities and organisations. A new five year service agreement had been signed with social services for the continuation of affordable accommodation provision for the voluntary sector.

Alan Jones, after 11 years as Centre Manager, resigned in 2004.  Ann Polley, Chief Executive of Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary Services retired as a committee member of over 20 year following her retirement from the NVS, which had been based at the Centre almost from the start.

Nigel Christian was appointed Centre Manager.

The Centre continued with steady progress over the next few years. In accordance with the Constitution the Centre had made grants and supported a number of youth organisations.

In 2008 the Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary Services (now Voluntary Norfolk) moved to their own offices and they were thanked for their major contribution to the Centre.

Mrs. Pat Meacock, Vice Chair and Treasurer for almost 20 years died in 2009 and tributes were paid for her unstinting and dedicated work.

In 2010 a very successful year was marred by the death of Eric Payton a Trustee and Centre Manager in the 1980 and 90’s.

Mr Antony Jarrold retired in 2013 after many years as Chairman of the Management Committee. His involvement with the Centre began in 1966 when he was secretary of the 3 C’s Coffee Bar in association with the City Education Department. He continued as a member of the Management Committee.

The work and commitment of Joyce Knight, formerly Joyce Morgan, to the Centre was highlighted at the AGM. Mr Jarrold said ‘The Centre exists today very much because of Joyce. Her support started over 50 years ago and she was Chair for more than 15 years’.

2014 – 2020

Trudy Johnson was elected Chair of the Centre but ill health forced her retirement and Philip Hunt became Chairman. During the year the loss of grant funding happened and caused a major impact on the finances. Only by making one post redundant was the Centre able to continue. A loss of £4,963 was reported on the day to day running of the centre.

2015 was also a difficult year but the centre’s finances had improved due to the hard work of the staff. During the year the kitchens were refurbished. David Ford was elected Chairman.

Nigel Christian retired on the 31st of March 2017 and the Trustees placed on record their appreciation and grateful thanks for all that he had contributed to the Centre, his hard work and his professionalism.

Andrew Good worked alongside Nigel from September 2016 and then took over as Centre Manager.

The financial result for the year was better than expected. This allowed the upgrading of the Centre. Improvements to the facilities continued in 2017. The financial situation was an ongoing concern but improvements were noted including the refurbishment of the toilet facilities.

The reception area of the Charing Cross Centre, Norwich which has had a £2500 makeover from IKEA. Picture: Nick Butcher






 In 2018 IKEA hired a room in the Centre and were so impressed with the service and hospitality it offered, that they sent a team to decorate the reception area and donated £2500 of furniture and fittings in a very generous gift.

2019 AGM

David Ford, Chairman, reported another successful year. The Trustees continue to upgrade equipment and the building fabric. Andrew Good is always exploring new opportunities to attract appropriate business and to seek savings on running costs. The Alzheimer’s Society, one of the longest resident organisations moved on to other premises. The YMCA now occupied the space created. The treasurer, Philip Hunt, reported that in 2019 overall income has increased by 19.87 compared to 2018 to £116,633. Andrew listed over 70 organisations which had used the Centre during the year.

In the last few years the work of the Centre  has been more focused on counselling with the conversion of rooms 14-17 as bespoke counselling rooms along with the two larger rooms on the 2nd floor also being used as counselling/therapy rooms.

Andrew Good reflects that “…over the years the Charing Cross Centre has helped and supported so many people, often filling gaps in statutory provision, and we can never know just how many people have been helped in so many ways.  It is a unique place and continues to offer a wide range of support and help too many.  To quote someone from long ago ‘it is better to serve than be served’.


The year of the pandemic.

David Ford presented the Annual Report and began ‘This year’s AGM is a very different meeting..’ . The reason was that no face-to-face meetings were permitted due to the pandemic so the meeting took place on ‘zoom’.

He reported a modest surplus up to April 2020 had enable further fabric work to be done. Money has been set aside for repairs to an external wall. The main focus for the Trustees and Centre Manager in the coming  months will be to see the Centre through these extraordinary and challenging times due to the closure of the of the Centre since March.

Thanks were expressed to Thecla, the Vice Chair, and Andrew, the Centre Manager, the Job Retention Scheme was investigated and as a result the staff were able to be furloughed. Also, a very welcome grant of £25k from the City Council had been received to help with the difficult financial situation due to the closure. Following the first lockdown the centre was able to reopen for a few organisations to continue. Andrew was thanked for his work in ensuring proper safety measures, safe distancing, sanitiser stations and a careful cleaning regime. Beverley Bulcock was welcomed as a Trustee and Linda Sullivan was thanked for her contribution as a Trustee upon her retirement.

The Treasurer, Philip Hunt. Reported that the accounts presented was for a period which was largely unaffected by the Covid 19 pandemic but warned of great difficulty during the coming year. Repairs and renewals were significantly higher but in spite of this there was a surplus of £23,574 in respect of income and expenditure. He thanked Hines Harvey Woods for their work on the accounts. Philip concluded his report ‘Your committee seek to continue to maintain and improve the premises, the facilities and the services available to our users and to reward our staff for their efforts and for the flexibility they display in carrying them out. I repeat this is a resource second to none in Norwich and we should be proud of it.


In January Indigo Dyslexia Centre moved to their own premises at the top of Duke Street.

Asperger East Anglia moved from the Tudor room to the shop and associated offices. They set up a new venture of a charity shop and a drop in centre.







Breakeven, offering free counselling and treatment for anyone affected by problem gambling, moved from the Norfolk room to the Tudor room.

The Norfolk room became an additional daily hire room for various users including Fresh Start New Beginnings a treatment Service for victims of Child Sexual Abuse.


The story of the Charing Cross Centre is not finished!

The centre will continue to serve the city and county through making space available to many service providers and voluntary organisations.


Speakers at the Annual meetings

The variety of speakers over the years demonstrates the variety of organisations using the Centre and interest in the history of the buildings. Many of the users were invited to speak about their work.

1978 Michael Marais – New Psychiatric Day Centre

1979 Future – Eric Peyton

1981 Edward Hackford Deputy Director Social Services on cooperation between Voluntary Organisations and the Local Authority

1983 Barbara Miller ‘The History of the Maddermarket’ and the medieval origins of the centre/

1984 Harold Rose Norfolk Age Concern ‘The Social Needs of Elderly People’

1985 Ann Polley ‘An Introduction to the Norwich Volunteer Bureau’ and Mr S Richards ‘The Work of the Multiple Sclerosis Society’

1986 Mrs. P Meacock ‘’Pre-School Playgroups Association’

1987 Maureen Fitzmaurice ‘The work of the Life Care and Housing Trust’

1999 The Intercept Project

2000 Barbara Miller ‘The history of the Maddermarket area’

2001 Superintendent Adrian Ewing ‘Strategy for safer pubs and clubs’

2002 Mr. John Long Contacts Manager for Social Services ‘An insight into the relationship between the Charing Cross Centre and the Social Services.’

2003 Jill Stacey ‘The County Preventative Strategy for vulnerable young people’

2004 Lisa Christensen ‘Every Child Matters’

2005 John Nooney ‘Norfolk International Projects’

2006 Bryan Gunn ’20 years in Norfolk’

2007 Rosalie Monbiot Cabinet Member for Children’s’ Service Norfolk County Council

2008 Fiona MacDiarmid – Chief Executive Connexions – Norfolk Support for children 14 – 19

2009 Richard Smith Chairman of Norfolk County Board of the Princes Trust

2010 Frank Meeres – The Maddermarket area

2011 Kaja Holloway – NEAD -Norfolk Education for and Action for Development

2012 Thecla Fellas – Asperger East Anglia

2013 Martin Parsonage Indigo Dyslexia Service

2014 John Lee – Norfolk Careers Support for under 25

2015 Fiona Spinks – Norfolk Recovery Partnership

2016 Jan Roberts – Inspire Norfolk

2017 Nuno Leitao – Breakeven

2018 Mark Reynolds – Work of the YMCA training programme

2019 Fiona Duncan – Cognitive Behavioural therapy

2020 No Speaker, Due to AGM being held via zoom because of Covid 19 restrictions

2021 Ron Ingamells – Overview of the history of the Charing Cross Centre