Bi-Monthly Newsletters

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Newsletter No. 73

April, 2017.

The Talk by Ivan Cane on 14th March.

There was a good attendance at the March meeting to hear Ivan Cane’s talk ‘Taking Boats Uphill’. Ivan had previously given a comprehensive and interesting account of the wonderful conservation work carried out by dedicated volunteers of the North Walsham and Dilham canal so his enthusiasm and depth of knowledge was already known to us.

He described in great detail the numerous methods employed in the 18th and 19th centuries to allow boats to move uphill on rivers and canals. Roads were often narrow and badly maintained so water transport of goods was favoured. It soon became clear that the mechanical, scientific and building expertise of our ancestors was extremely refined, especially in the Victorian age.

There were many different mechanisms designed to meet individual need. Account had to be taken of the locality, mills and crossings so it was often a complex situation. The early designs involving the crane water bucket system (1759) were not really successful. Sluice gates meant mill owners could not work all the time if the water flow was disrupted. There were too many boats and several men were needed to operate the system. Locks too did not always serve the purpose so engineers experimented with other methods including staunches, flash weirs and flash locks.

Double gate staunches needing heavy balance beams and chains were common in East Anglian waters. They enabled wherries to pass from Lowestoft to Southwold and along other routes. Guillotine staunches, a more sophisticated design with a big wheel, were also erected on East Anglian waterways including the River Nar, Little Ouse, Nene and Bottisham Lode. Other methods and mechanisms made us realise how talented and versatile waterway engineers were. It is unfortunate that so much evidence of their brilliance has been removed.

Ivan showed us a series of slides and photographs to explain how the various methods worked. He has travelled far to add to his portfolio of river and canal bank masterpieces. We enjoyed his talk very much indeed.

The Steering Committee Meeting on 11th April.

The committee discussed the arrangements for the forthcoming talk by Lynton Johnson at the village hall on 9th May. Further details were also considered regarding the visit to Carrow Road on 22nd July. It was hoped that the number of members attending would be in the region of twenty. Members would be circulated with additional details regarding parking, arrival time at reception and the possibilities of having lunch in the area, nearer the time of the visit. As Norwich City require a payment in advance we would ask that members on the list for the visit please make the £10 payment to Jenny Hall as soon as possible.

The remaining events for the year, listed below, were considered and all appeared to be in order.

Thoughts then turned to planning a programme for 2018 and ideas raised in the last Newsletter were further refined. In summary, the subjects suggested for the year were:-

The January Mardle – ‘Kill or Cure’ – an examination of medical remedies of yesteryear.

March – ‘The Alpington Hoard’ – a talk on the unearthed treasures of our region.

May – A presentation on ‘The History of the Norwich Assembly Rooms’.

July – A visit to the Transport Museum at Carlton Colville.

September – An East Anglian Film Archive Evening with a ‘bring your own’ Harvest Supper.

November – A presentation on The Norfolk Regiment and Britannia Barracks – to link, where appropriate, with Remembrance Day.

The next meeting is taking place on Tuesday, 9th May in the Village Hall, starting at 7.30 p.m.

Lynton Johnson will be speaking on the subject of antiques from 17th century to the present day. It promises to be a most entertaining and informative evening.

Everyone will be warmly welcomed and refreshments will be available.

The Society’s Programme of Events for 2017.

Saturday, 22nd July – Visit to Carrow Road. Members will receive a guided tour and be informed of the history of Norwich City F.C. from its foundation. There are still a few places available for anyone who might wish to go along. Please contact Brian Bugg for details.

Tuesday, 12th September – A talk by Natasha Harlow of the University of Nottingham on ‘Belonging and Belongings in the Land of the Iceni’, with specific reference to the Roman site at Caistor St. Edmund.

Tuesday, 14th November – A talk by Jason Raper on ‘The History of the Norwich Theatre


All village-based meetings will be held at 7.30 p.m. at Alpington Village Hall.

Guests £3.00/Refreshments served.

We look forward to seeing as many of you, and friends, as possible at the above events.



Although not a Local History Society meeting, there will be a talk given by Canon Jeremy Haselock on ‘Norfolk Rood Screens’ on Wednesday, 10th May at 7.30 p.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Yelverton. This is the first of a series of lectures for the community relating features of Yelverton’s Grade 1 Listed Church to the wider historical scene.

Admission is free.


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