This is the first time I’ve ever wandered through Norwich Lanes Summer Street Fayre (I am ashamed to say). This week Norwich seemed to burst alive with the Royal Norfolk Show, the Lord Mayor’s Show, the Duck Race and the Lanes Street Fayre. Seeing the crowds: everyone happy and enjoying themselves, was pretty emotional. This feels like the first time Norwich has been able to properly celebrate being free again after all the pandemic woes. It was a show of strength in community and certainly in our business community too.
The Norwich Lanes Street Fayre has been operating for 14 years and is said to attract up to 20k visitors. There seems to be real trend towards shopping with independents again which is heartening to see. Norwich has some mighty fine independent businesses that’s for sure!
Congratulations Norwich and Norfolk! I know some people have their criticisms, always expecting more, but given the fact this fine city and county are still trying to get through the after effects of the pandemic, a cost of living crisis, and what seem like never ending road works, this week proved this fine city, this fine county and all of its fine people are strong and determined to continue to thrive.
Here are some images I shot, next time I will be more prepared and hopefully have more time.
My River Wensum series starts with a photo tour of the bridges that cross it. I began with Carrow Bridge as it is the nearest to my apartment. Traveling along the Wensum up towards the city, the next bridge featured in this series is the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge, followed by the Lady Julian Bridge, and from there we arrived at the Foundry Bridge. If you were travelling towards the city by boat, to your left you would see Pull’s Ferry and Norwich Cathedral as you headed towards Bishop Bridge. The next curve is around the bend next to Cow Tower, with the Cathedral to the left, and apartments and offices to the right, where the next bridge is the Jarrold Bridge.
Back from ancient to modern again. Let no one say the Wensum doesn’t provide variety!
The Jarrold bridge was designed by Stephen James of Ramboll (a company with 50 years of experience in bridge building) and built by local company R G Carter. Visit the Jarrold site to see all the awards this bridge has won and been short listed for. Truly impressive! You will also see other interesting facts there, such as the fact that the bridge slope is less than 1 in 20 for ease of use. It’s certainly nice to cycle over. If you are a bridge enthusiast and would like to know more about the construction of the Jarrold Bridge, SHStructures gives more technical information. I will tell you, however, it is just over 80m in length. I have never seen another bridge like it. I love the modern, clean curve of it and the location is perfect.
From the top of the bridge you can enjoy the very natural view up towards Cow Tower and Mousehold Heath, lushly green with willows grazing the water. The bridge is just next to a car park, on the other side of which is the Adam & Eve pub, the oldest watering hole in Norwich.
The city view gives you the rear side of St James Mill, where Jarrold & Sons Ltd have their offices. Next door to St James Mill, new apartments are being built, so it is currently a construction site with a huge crane. I will return to St James Mill and the buildings along the Wensum in future posts.
The image above shows the ancient flint arch next to the ultra modern Jarrold Bridge.
From modern back to ancient, Whitefriar’s Bridge is the next bridge in this River Wensum series, which will feature not only bridges but go on to study the architecture, wildlife, and the current human life along the river. While the Wensum has a great history, life along the river continues to evolve and change, and I will be documenting that as the series continues.
My River Wensum series starts with a photo tour of bridges. I began with Carrow Bridge as it is the nearest to my apartment. Traveling along the Wensum up towards the city, the next bridge featured in this series is the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge, followed by the Lady Julian Bridge and from there we arrive next at Foundry Bridge just by Norwich Train Station.
While I often use Lady Julian Bridge to cut up to King Street for a shorter route into the city, what I really like to do, when I have time, is to walk along the Wensum up to Foundry Bridge and cross over Prince of Wales Road to continue the river walk. I also use Foundry Bridge to cross the river to get to the post office (I am sure you are fascinated to know this). It just goes to show how important these bridges are to daily life in Norwich. I’m very glad I don’t have to swim across the river.
The Foundry Bridge (a grade II listed building) is a single-span iron bridge with its own distinctive decorative design. Here are some interesting details about the Foundry Bridge from George Plunkett.
‘The first to occupy this site was a toll bridge built of wood in 1811 by the contractors, Mendham of Holt. In 1844, with the coming of the railway, it was replaced by one made of iron by Bradley and Co. of Wakefield, and designed by C.D. Atkinson. It cost £800. It was then freed from toll. The present structure was built when Thorpe Station was enlarged; the contractors were R.Tidman and Co of Rosary Rd, Norwich. It cost £12,032. opened on January 17th, 1888.’
It is fascinating to know the cost of the construction of the Foundry Bridge. I can only imagine what a bridge of similar construction would cost today. It certainly wouldn’t be £12,000!
The thing I love about bridges is how unique each one is. Whether it be a footbridge or built for vehicular access, a swing, opening or fixed bridge, they all have their own special design, quirks, and individuality. This really appeals to me. Of course, every bridge provides an interesting viewpoint too, ideal for a photographer.
Looking back towards Lady Julian Bridge with the Nelson Hotel on the right, Norwich Station on the left, and, of course, the Canoe Man.
Looking towards the city, Norwich Yacht Station is on the right hand side and the Compleat Angler pub on the left. Willow trees line the river down towards Pulls Ferry and the next bridge in this series Bishopsgate Bridge.
While researching the Foundry Bridge, I learned the tragic story of what happened nearby on April 4th, 1817 (Good Friday) to the Norwich Steam Packet when the engine exploded. You can read about it here on the NorfolkTalesMyths.com website.
This terrible story brought to mind a ghostly incident that happened in the Hotel Nelson garden a year ago. We often wander the city streets on summer nights, taking photographs and enjoying the lights. One night, we went down the steps from Foundry Bridge and walked alongside the Nelson Hotel into the garden. I walked a little ahead of my boyfriend while he stopped to read a sign, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a bottle flew through the air and landed by my foot. I spun around expecting to see the person who had thrown it, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen. There were no bushes to hide in.
With no wind and the bottle flying at knee height before it landed, we came to the conclusion it had been thrown by a ghost, or now I wonder, perhaps if it was eerily propelled by the historic explosion…
Whether you believe in ghostly happenings or not, it is the only explanation I have.
Look out for my next blog about Bridges o’er the Wensum – or get updated by hitting the subscribe button below.
Carrow Bridge is a lifting bridge. Unfortunately, I have never been lucky enough to see it lift up. I like to peer into the little control hut and imagine it in operation. Despite my best attempts to find a video of it opening, so far, I haven’t been successful. All I can find is a video of the test opening in 2018 to allow TS Lord Nelson aka HMS Vale pass through, which isn’t particularly interesting!
The current Carrow Bridge was constructed in 1923 to replace the old bridge to the South. More recently, there have been plans by the council to weld the bridge shut. Read a press release from the Norwich Society about this here.
Reginald Dann, lived in Carrow Bridge House (the former bridge master’s house) for more than 50 years until it was sold at auction. Thankfully, a plan by the county council to demolish it was defeated by the city council.
You can see images of the bridge open here in an EDP article, when the TS Lord Nelson passed through in 2004. There is also a nice image in the article of the The ship “Paullgate” of Hull carrying cargo under Carrow bridge at the port of Norwich. Dated 20 May 1966. The TS Lord Nelson was eventually decommissioned and now rests in Bristol.
I walk across the bridge at least once every day, and I also cross it every night. I enjoy looking out over both sides of Carrow bridge, but my favourite view is looking back up the river past the Devil’s Tower towards old Paper Mill Yard.
You can read more about the history of the Devil’s Tower here – it is a virtually unique structure in England, built in the early 14th century. Directly opposite is the Windlass Tower.
I will write more about the Wensum Boom Towers in future posts.
A view further up from Carrow Bridge.
Carrow Bridge by night.
I frequently pass under the bridge, on the way into the city. It is a favourite spot for pigeons to court in the spring. There is also the occasional dove.
Sometimes swans sit in the wooden under-structure compartments as if they were stables. I am sure there is a technical name for the structure, but I have no idea what it is.
Eric and Erica, the Egyptian geese, like to perch on the wooden sidings that are there to guide boats through, but usually they are keeping guard on the river bank. Occasionally, a heron perches near the bridge too.
On summer nights, if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of bats performing aerobatics around the bridge.
Street Art under Carrow Bridge
Every now and then, new street art appears under the bridge. These images have disappeared now, which is a shame because I really liked them. They are preferable to the meaningless tagging that crops up everywhere (not meaningless to gangs, I guess, but still an eyesore).