Looking back

There I was 100 years ago this week stood by Horstead Lock and watching Zulu locking through bound for Aylsham with a load of coal. That April the weather was dull and wet, much as it is now and I wouldn’t have failed to notice the paucity of maintainance on the Navigation. The lock gates were leaky and clearly past their best. The water levels were just sufficient to maintain a navigable depth despite the recent April showers. Of course I know nothing of what is to come later in the year in the form of the flood which engulfed Norfolk in August and in doing so caused the destruction of the waterway and havoc amongst the communities along its course. Also we mustn’t forget that flood also cost lives in Norwich.

In my newspaper 100 years ago I would be reading about the sinking of the Titanic in the north Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. It gripped and shocked the nation all at the same time. It also changed ocean travel forever as the Board of Trade report into the tragedy made it a requirement that all ships carry enough lifeboats for all on board. The fact that they didn’t previously says something about the class system which presumed that the crew and 3rd class could swim for it and also the Edwardian delusion of British supremacy. They genuinely thought this ship was unsinkable.


I could also have read a story that pointed to the future in that Harriet Quimby the aviatrix had just become the first woman to fly across the channel in a flying machine. Within a few short years they would become sophisticated war machines but the audacity of a mere woman flying over the open sea would have been very newsworthy. 

Back to the now and we continue to progress towards our event commemmorating the events of August 1912 which will be held at Coltishall in 2012 on the exact date 100 years on, August 26th. We still need a lot of help with this so if you feel you can help please feel free to join in. We also need to find one or two old buses in private or commercial hands that are able to to take a vital role in this event. If you know of one or anybody that might help please let us know (stu.wilson100@btinternet.com ). Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

I can’t finish this blog without a final, for the moment, comment about the Oxnead Trees. This has been a big learning curve for me and one of the lessons is that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. The majority that have corresponded are sorry to see the trees go but not all – some have welcomed it and think that what replaces them will be better. The landowner has not broken any laws and cannot be blamed for what he has done. The trees were after all planted to eventually be cut down it’s just they have become part of the landscape and many will miss them. My objection is really with the system, as if you wanted to so dramatically change the landscape in other ways you would need to get planning permission. I don’t advocate that for felling trees (except where there are TPO’s) but I do think the Forestry Commission should consult before granting felling licences in the way that District Council’s consult over planning matters. If you agree please write and tell your MP as we need to change the national rules and frankly that will take more pressure than I can muster.

Finally I haven’t mentioned kitty for a while, actually we have 5 but I am referring to our youngest now one year old and called Bonnie, this has been a momentous week for her. She has caught her 1st mouse which is rather worrying as she is a self appointed house cat who will not go outside. You would think with that many cats we wouldn’t get mice indoors. C’est la vie.

Millstream Aylsham courtesy of the Aylsham Archive
Bonnie, I wonder what she’s seen?

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