Sunday, 12 September 2010

Can anyone remember Pull’s last ferryman?


THIS is one of the most photographed scenes in Norwich – Pull’s Ferry on the River Wensum in Norwich. It is named after John Pull who kept the ferry and adjoining pub for much of the first half of the 19th century. The building of course goes back a lot longer. It is – in Norwich historian Frank Meeres’s words the “medieval water gate of Cathedral Close”. That’s a reminder that the river use to double up as city wall. So when there was a canal up to the cathedral, it had to protected with a gate. But how long did that ferry last I wonder? Thorpe Hamlet’s historian says it stopped after Norwich City moved from The Nest to Carrow Road in the mid-1930s. Meeres says 1943 and elsewhere I’ve read of even later dates. Even if it was 1935, that leaves it in living memory – just. So can anyone help me find an old Norwich bor or gal who might just remember the last ferryman? We’re pretty sure he was Cecil Mollett who had five daughters, Dorothy, Eileen, Betty, Gladys and Marjorie. His wife was Lily and Dorothy married Herbet “Joe” Henning. Email me at if you can help. Until I find that precious eye-witness we’ll have to make do with author R H Mottram’s memories of the 1890s:

“It was one of the treats of my childhood,” he wrote to be taken across the deep, slow-flowing water, by the laconic old ferryman who ‘quanted’ Norfolk-fashion with a long pole, he did not row. And when landed safely on the other side, what fun to sit on the grass of the tow-path of those days and watch the slow but capacious wherries go gliding past.”

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