Monday, 26 November 2012

Langley and Hardley: Boat owners beware


This is word for word from Norfolk Police:

Police are reappealing for information following a number of thefts from boats in the Loddon area. Since Sunday 18 November 2012 items including outboard motors, a dinghy and navigation lights have been stolen from Hardley Dyke, Langley Dyke and Langley Staithe. Boat owners and users are requested to ensure they do not leave items of property on display, secure their vessels and take down any aerials or antennas when not in use. Be vigilant and report anything suspicious to police. Anyone with information about these thefts should contact Loddon Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Cockatrice: Who was One-Armed Carver?


MYTHS already abound about the isolated former pub alongside the Yare known as “The Cockatrice”. All the old boys say that this building – miles from any other on the road from Norton Subcourse to Reedham Ferry – was the haunt of smugglers. Certainly its location lends itself to those sort of rumours. It’s been a house – rather than an inn - for more than 80 years now. But selling books at Loddon Farmers’ Market today, I heard a snippet of surely another great story …that this building was once the home of “One-Armed Carver”.

Who he was and how he lost his arm are both unknown to me so far – although I know there was once an abbatoir here. Is that a gruesome clue? But I’m told by The Cockatrice’s new owner Sarah that he lived there some time after the building stopped being a pub. And rather bizarrely he used to use the grazing marshes nearby to race his greyhounds. Curiouser and curiouser. I’d love to know more. Get in touch if you can help.

* A cockatrice was a serpent hatched from a cock's egg which had the power to kill at a glance. The building – see below – is slightly more conventional.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Thorpe next Haddiscoe: marsh upon marsh

thorpe again 002

THE FLAT landscape down at Thorpe Marshes plays tricks on your eyes and your ears. It’s so open that the usual rules just don’t seem to apply. Find yourself somewhere to park near the beautifully ancient round tower church in the windswept hamlet of Thorpe next Haddiscoe, then take the footpath which heads across the marshes just south of Thorpe Hall.

You walk next to a small bedraggled wood, home to a few hundred noisy rooks and crows. Then you’re out onto mile upon mile of mucky grazing marsh. The Lowestoft to Norwich railway line spans the horizon, But because the horizon is so vast you can only hear a train as it rattles alongside the New Cut at Reedham. Watch it head towards Suffolk and you suddenly realise the sound has disappeared, picked up (today at least) by a south-westerly and hurled towards Somerleyton.

At one end of the horizon Cantley belches out its sugary steam. A shotgun or two was being fired down at Thurlton and somewhere else upwind a lonely cow lowed. Then that strange almost factory-type sound as a trio of swans passed directly overheard.

Thorpe next Haddiscoe 001

Grazing marsh is of course only one step up from “natural” marsh. The OS Map shows countless dykes criss-crossing this landscape, just about keeping it dry enough to keep your wellies on. And along with these dykes there are countless gates like the one in the main photo; their characteristic panels designed to stop stupid cattle taking a bath. (Does anyone know their proper name?)

It’s not the kind of walk I’d recommend for your London friends. The only windmill was distant and derelict. And it was all too big to feel like you were even getting from A to B. But now I’ve done 20-odd years in Norfolk I think I’m starting to appreciate its bleak beauty.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Langley: new home for old sign

Sign 002 cr

IT’S about two years since I had a brief guided tour of the old Wherry pub at Langley with builder Gary Hayes: two years since Gary was converting the building into a house and we agreed that the old pub sign would be better off in my garage than in his skip. Well as of today it’s got a new home – courtesy of the grandson of an old landlord.

Peter Russell from Maidstone got in touch after doing a bit of family tree work. His grandfather John Preece had been the publican here in the early 1920s. Family legend says that he left because his wife Alice found the whole business rather uncouth. (And Broads legend has it that wherrymen were a hard-drinking bunch and since they would have been the pub’s main clientele, this sort of makes sense.)

Mr Preece moved to Kent as a result and two generations later Peter is still there. But he and his wife are also enjoying exploring Norfolk now that they’ve got the connection. They’re even planning a walk along the Wherryman’s Way next year. They may live far from the Wherry’s heartland, but I think the pub sign has found a good home.

* Original article here.