Sunday, 25 October 2015 00:00

And Quiet flows the Wensum

Written by  Colin Chapman
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
And Quiet flows the Wensum

It is in the nature of most proud cities that they have a river flowing through them. We think of the Thames, the Cam, the Isis, and the Seine, in London, Cambridge, Oxford, and Paris respectively.

Norwich has the Wensum. But who has heard of it? More importantly, who has sailed, rowed, sculled, paddled or even taken a cruise on it? Or sat on its riverside, enjoying a quiet drink? Chance would be a fine thing. 

The river Wensum gets its name from an ancient English word wendsum, which means ‘winding’, and that is what it does, snaking its way into the city centre through Drayton, Costessey and Hellesdon. Just below Hellesdon Mill, it is surprisingly picturesque for a suburb plagued by ribbon development; on a summers day kids swim there.

At Norwich New Mills – the name has historic significance but these days there is no mill and the only things new are houses – the Wensum becomes feebly tidal.

It then passes under numerous bridges through the oldest and most interesting parts of the city, with the Playhouse and the School of Art on its right, and The Mischief inn on the left. Soon we pass the various trappings of the Norfolk legal system, including the courts, the probation services, and the like (one wonders why places that require heavy security and car parking were built on such prime real estate) until we get wonderful views of Norwich Cathedral across the playing fields of that fine institution, Norwich School.

jarroldbridge.jpg

Soon we pass under Prince of Wales Road and the Premier Inn, the ugly apartment blocks built opposite the old Colman’s mustard factory and adjoining the Norwich City FC stadium, and on to Trowse, before the Wensum flows into the Yare at Whitlingham.

You may be surprised to know that the Wensum is a longer river than the Yare, better known because it is central to southern Broadland. The source of the Wensum is near Colkirk, south of Fakenham, and it flows westward into north-west Norfolk before winding its way back towards Norwich.

Outside the city of Norwich it is attractive, and well used by those who like to catch fish (and throw them back into the water), by walkers, and people messing about in boats. Artists come to paint stretches of the river, and old watermills. But in Norwich, its neglect by the City Council’s planners and its under-achieving councillors is evident for all to see.

The Wensum is navigable from its confluence with the Yare, and there is much to admire, but little opportunity to view it. You find Broads cruise boats up to Norwich station, but few holiday makers venture beyond it. You hardly see a boat in the most interesting stretches, not surprising because there are no commercial moorings worthy of the name, which probably explains why there are no tea or coffee cruises offering places to stop off.

boatonquayside.jpg

Questions that need to be asked include:

Why is here no public towpath between Carrow Bridge and New Mills?  There is a path alongside the Wensum in a few places, but it usually peters out after a hundred yards or so?

Why have councillors permitted property developers to put up apartment blocks and other property developments on the banks of the Wensum, without making provision for a footpath, as is the case in most civilised cities?

What steps has NorwichCity Council  taken to persuade alehouses, wine bars  and other attractions on or close to the Wensum to make them more river friendly?

What steps have been taken to make historic sites along the Wensum more accessible and better known?  These would include the New Mills, for example, which are not so new, and go back to medieval times.  Built to replace even older mills in 1430 they provided grinding facilities for all the city’s bakers. It later became a pumping station for the city’s sewerage. Now there is not much to show for it other than an overpriced hosing estate. Plans for a museum failed.

The Wensum was once an important economic asset for Norfolk, not just for its many mills but also for providing a transport artery from the Yare to much of Norfolk. Now it has silted up in places, and water quality has deteriorated.  There have been several well-meaning efforts at restoration, but little has been done in Norwich, where private riverside developers hold sway.

I’m sure I am not alone in believing breathing new life to the Wensum in Norwich to be a worthwhile venture. I would like to hear your comments as to how this can be done.

quayside.jpg

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 19:42

Visit the following businesses

cache/resized/d7cdd78533a6d9fe7da25974b10c1200.jpg
Howard & Son
Howard & Son is the longest established fishmongers in Norwich (Est 1889). We are proud suppliers to restaurants, pubs, hotels, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes and retail trade. We offer a wide range of fresh fish, smoked fish, shellfish, ...
Explore
cache/resized/bfaf537e48dbae7b3b89f10c988b308a.png
The Lodge Griddle and Grill
The Lodge Griddle & Grill has had a radical makeover for its 10th anniversary year and now serves a variety of mouth-watering dishes with sizzlers, steaks, ribs and grills with a few pub favourites thrown in the mix. An independent restaurant ...
Explore
cache/resized/8c633440053520b35121955e716f75e9.jpg
Perfectpamper.com
Perfect Pamper is a one-stop-shop for your party requirements.  We cover the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk providing your with mobile services delivered directly to your door.  We offer a spa-by-car service with a pop-up salon for ...
Explore
cache/resized/7c089bc73faedbee51df69648b8adc7c.jpg
J J Payne Services Ltd
JJ Payne Services Ltd are specialist plumbing and heating engineers serving Norfolk and East Anglia. We offer a full range of plumbing and heating services. Our plumbing services includes everything from fixing leaky taps to installing new ...
Explore
cache/resized/2bd16ff507385ca3498189a92832199c.jpg
R T Harvey Ltd
We were established in 1924 on Tombland in Norwich. The company sold a full range of Game meat, poultry and pork. We moved to Grove Road in 1985 and now sells all game products, pork and poultry as well as cooked meats etc. In 1997 we gained ...
Explore
cache/resized/f88b96f6855b80a64a2d543e2ddf1570.jpg
Trott Rentals
Trott Rentals has been supplying affordable, flexible and reliable van hire in Norwich for over 50 years. A team of knowledgeable and helpful staff members makes this rental company Norwich’s first choice for easy vehicle hire, for personal and ...
Explore
benefits banner

Related items

  • Historic Maids Head Hotel, Norwich to re-open from lockdown on Saturday, July 4

    The Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich, one of the oldest hotels in the UK, will emerge from lockdown on Saturday, July 4. It is believed that this is the first time that the hotel has been closed since it started trading as the Murtel Fish Inn during the 13th century.

    Christine Malcolm, General Manager said: “We are all looking forward to welcoming guests to the hotel after this three month closure. It will also be very good to see our staff return from furlough. They have been keeping their spirits up with a whole range of activities from a baking competition, to a Zoom lunch and a virtual run between the Maids Head and our sister hotels, The Gonville in Cambridge and The Ship at Brancaster.

    We recently delivered a lockdown gift of Norfolk strawberries, clotted cream and chilled rose wine to our 90 staff who live across the county, from Norwich to Wymondham, Reepham and Gorleston. This resulted in some great feedback, Dawn said: 'Lovely surpirise today, thank you Christine and the team, miss you all...' ”

  • EACH receives £5,000 donation from Tom and Anna Trybull

    Norwich City footballer Tom Trybull and his wife Anna have donated £5,000 to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), plus a bag of clothes as the charity gears up to reopen five of its shops.

    The money comes from sales of children’s book The Story of Tommy T. Tommy T is a pigeon trying to make his name in football. The story is written by Anna, based on the exploits of her husband and encourages young people to follow their dreams.

    It will go towards EACH’s fundraising appeal set up at the start of lockdown to address a forecasted income gap of £1.8m over 12 weeks, caused by the cancellation and postponement of fundraising events, and the closure of the charity’s 43 shops.

    Following the government announcement that non-essential shops can reopen from Monday (15 June), EACH has decided to open five of its outlets in Norfolk, in a phased reopening plan the good cause hopes will eventually restore the pre-lockdown success of its high street portfolio.

  • Football club is ‘on the ball’ with donations

    Breckland Council’s work to support vulnerable residents through the coronavirus pandemic has been boosted by a donation from Norwich City Football Club and Norwich City Community Sports Foundation.

    There are more than 3,600 people in the district who the NHS consider to be ‘extremely vulnerable’ and the council is supporting them by making welfare calls and, where needed, distributing medicines and food parcels.

    The club and its foundation recently boosted the local effort by donating 120 parcels to the council, containing essential non-perishable food items such as tinned goods and dried foods. The boxes also included hand sanitiser, toilet roll, sweet treats, a NCFC gift and a note from celebrity chef and Canaries shareholder Delia Smith.

    The support is part of the club and foundation’s Canaries COVID-19 Community Support Project which has seen £200k donated by the football club’s players, staff and directors, to help the county respond to covid-19.

  • Win a collection of fabulous local books published by Paul Dickson Books

    All Things Norfolk has teamed up with Paul Dickson Books to give you a chance to win a collection of fabulous local books.

    Paul Dickson Books is an independent Publishing House in Norwich, working with Norfolk writers and titles include Ink in my Blood - my half centiry in newspapers by Neil Haverson which was finalist in the East Anglian Book Awards 2018, Biography and Memoir.

    Paul and his team have put together the following package of books as a prize to the lucky winner and there is something here for all members of the family to enjoy:

  • Rival Clubs Back Local Charity’s Annual Sleep Out

    Local charity, The Benjamin Foundation, has announced its annual Sleep Out fundraising events with Norwich City and Ipswich Town Football Clubs hosting this year’s events.

    Taking place on Thursday 19th November, the Norwich Sleep Out will be held at Norwich City Football Club, Carrow Road with the Ipswich Sleep Out taking place at Ipswich Town Football Club on Portman Road on 5th November.

    The annual Sleep Out fundraising events support The Benjamin Foundation’s work in Norfolk and Suffolk to prevent youth homelessness by inviting people to spend one night sleeping outside so others don’t have to. Money raised through sponsorship helps their work to tackle the homelessness problem locally by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable young people aged 16 to 25 every night. The Benjamin Foundation also gives them the skills they need so they can go on to forge independent lives.

Newsletter

© All Things Norfolk 2008 - 2020
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

A Monday mention to all the fabulous local independent businesses featured on https://t.co/NuCmmbaC3U including… https://t.co/3ko6PJ1UTp