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Friday, 2 October 2009

No deal on the Deal Ground

HIDDEN away close to the heart of Norwich is a vast derelict wasteland that next to nobody knows about.
It is called the Deal Ground and it covers 50 untapped acres between Trowse, Whitlingham and the railway station. The reason you haven't heard of it is that it is very difficult to get to. In fact it is virtually an island, hemmed in by a railway line and the Rivers Yare and Wensum. In the past I have squeezed past a gate post behind the sewage works at Trowse to explore, but this time I went by canoe.
Again from Trowse (the Yare tributary flowing alongside the meadow next to Whitlingham Lane) I paddled downstream to the Yare's confluence with the Wensum. Then I turned left to head up towards Norwich. Once you get past Carrow Yacht Club, everything on your left is the Deal Ground - so-called because it's where Colman's used to make their packaging out of soft wood or deal.
My book couldn't have been written without a little light trespass, so I pulled the canoe out of the water and had a wander. The first thing that strikes you is its size, then the silence. The sights and sounds of Norwich are all very close, but here nothing moves. Yet this is no wilderness, the hand of man is everywhere. Deserted buildings, concrete hard standing, even a Victorian kiln. I guess it is the classic brownfield site, awaiting development. But as yet there's no deal for the Deal Ground.
* More info on Colman's and the Deal Ground here.

10 comments:

  1. Hi, I would be grateful to know location of the gatepost that can be squeezed past, would love to document the Deal Ground for a project. I hope you can help. Thanks!

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  2. Turn off the Trowse section of Bracondale in front of the old pumping house building. Keep right and get down to the river bank.Keep going along the bank (through an ad hoc campsite when I was last there), squeeze past the famous gatepost and you should be out in the open. ....Failing that buy a canoe. And do keep me posted on your project.

    Cheers

    Steve

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  3. Many thanks, Steve! Looking at the satellite image, I can see a green island between Yare, Wensum and railway line. There is a lane off Bracondale, leading past the old pumping house to large sheds and what appears to be a lorry park, immediately south of the Wensum. This looks to be part of Lafarge Aggregates. Is that it? Or do I turn right immediately north of the sewage works and head for the Yare river bank from there?

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  4. I found the gatepost ... what an interesting site! Apart from the hut by the entrance and another one a little further in (which I took to be a pump house - there are big pipes in it) only one building is still standing. There is a large heap of brick and concrete rubble beside it. I also saw the kiln and the tunnel under the railway line. Good to see and document the site, I think, as there appear to be plans for a redevelopment soon, according to an article in the EDP dated 31 Dec 2009.

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  5. Good work!
    This might also be of interest about the wider area: http://www.norwich.gov.uk/intranet_docs/A-Z/Conservation%20Areas/Appraisals/Trowse_Millgate.pdf

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  6. Thank you, Steve. This morning I've spoken to an old gentleman who used to work at Colman's: the hut by the entrance was the policeman's hut and the bottle kiln was used to dry green wood for making barrels (for storing fruit juice).

    Also, thank you very much for the URL. Somebody has been quite busy there recently. The Deal Ground will be next. :)

    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1671132
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1672642
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1672809
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1673391
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1673455
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1673386
    http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1672625

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  7. Thank you. The kiln has since been added to the Buildings at Risk list.

    Looking forward to the release of your book. Will it be available in local shops?

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