Saturday 23 August 2014

Norfolk Broads

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error.

The Australasian

Saturday 21 July 1934


By Myra Morris [Myra wrote a regular column in the Australasian called 'The tourist'.]

Wastes of grey inland water, edged by flowery meadows, wide, smooth-flowing rivers, silvery canals spanned by ancient bridges, and banked by bungalows, and white, nestling villages, these are the Norfolk Broads, the most fascinating, area of East Anglia a place of strange illusions. This low-lying watery world! It is nothing to lie curled in a field of poppies and to look up suddenly and see a white sailed ship drift by, seeming to be skimming over the very fields! It is nothing to find yourself suddenly in a corner , of Holland, with patches of scarlet and yellow flowers between the shining water ways, and in the background great wind mills with sagging arms.

The Norfolk Broads, consisting of over two hundred miles of rivers and lakes, lie between Cromer, Lowestoft, and Norwich. My first acquaintance with them was made from a little houseboat, tied up on the river; between the village of Wroxham and Wroxham Broad, one of the chief centres for yachting. The houseboat was a comfortable little affair, with an oil cooking stove, and airy rooms on deck, and was provided with a smaller boat with which to go exploring. Around us there were motor-boats, wherries, barges, and yachts, any of which can be hired for the season by paying a reasonable sum. A little farther along towards the grey mere there were bungalows along the water's edge gay little places, with chintz-curtained windows, and always full of sunburnt, young, holiday people.

Nothing could be more enchanting than life in such surroundings. Days pass in watching the. pleasure steamers and smaller craft go up the waters, and in drifting idly past the little villages, the ancient market towns, the great country houses, and the deep, shadowy woods, and ruined abbeys that lie within sight. In summer the farther fields are blight with mustard flowers and poppies and the stooks or Slithered corn. Water birds call all day long, and sometimes when the weather is rough clouds of wheeling gulls fly in from the sea, which is never far away. Oulton Broad, always dotted white with sails, is quite close to the fascinating sea. port of Lowestoft, which has narrow streets reeking of fish, and where great trawlers lie rocking beside the quay.

Drifting up the pleasant waters of the Yare, you reach Norwich,' nestling among Its lovely gardens and orchards, dominated by the Cathedral and the Castle.

Very old and quiet is Norwich, once burnt by the marauding Danes, who sailed up the wide waters from the coast. It Is full of ancient buildings, and steep little cobbled streets that hug the foundations of the Castle. Some of them have strange names, like "The Gentle man's Walk," "Mariners' Lane," "Golden Ball Street," and the street of the "Ram pant Horse." Many, of the public buildings are decorated with quaint signs of civic significance, and the small houses in the cobbled streets are half-timbered with rosy, gabled roofs.

Prom an early date Norwich has been associated with weaving. Earlier in the 14th century Flemish weavers landing at Yarmouth came on to Norwich, and, set ting up their looms as they had set them up in the Low Countries, laid the foundations of that prosperous textile industry that was to make Norwich In the time of Queen Elizabeth the second town in Eng land. To-day there is a part of Norwich intimately connected with those Incoming Dutch and Walloon weavers. There can still be seen the opulent houses of the rich cloth merchants, and the small low cottages of the humble people, where the looms worked night and day.

In the time of George Borrow there were "thrice 12 churches" in Norwich. To-day they number somewhere round 40. The cathedral, of course, has pride of place, and though built on a low-lying spot (the unsubstantiated story goes that it is raised on wool bales and faggots) it dominates the town. It is a building of exquisite symmetry, with flying but tresses and jutting chapels, and its slender, soaring tower is the second highest in England. It is Norman in origin, and many of the early Norman features, the arches, the round windows, and massive columns, remain, though the magnificent stone roof is of a later date, The cloisters, with their beautiful vaulting, are as famous as any in the kingdom.

The historic Norwich Castle has none of the magic of turret and tower that is usually associated with romantic castles. Its great, flattish, square bulk, reached by a bridgeway over a deep moat, looks what It most assuredly was-an Impregnable fortification. Its stones date from the time of the Conqueror. Still intact are the little windowed embrasures through which the Norman archers shot their arrows.

Through the whole of the city there is an air of the past marching step in step with the present. - Nowhere in England have the historic traditions and the con tact of great names, such as Lord Nelson, Sir John Suckling, Gurney, the Quaker philanthropist; ''Old Crome," the painter; and the author of "Lavengro," been so richly preserved. The Influences of the Flemish weavers on the fortunes of the people are still there for all men to see in the Guildhall, in the Folk Museum and lend the ancient city an interest that is unique.

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