New Year / Old Times

2012 dawned green and murky and not without a little wind blown drama. It’s been wet as well and I know that the river has been grateful for it as she was in need of some refreshing having been literally in drought for some months. It needs to rain a lot more but nature recovers remarkably quickly. The Bure is a majestic old lady confined largely in her man made banks as she makes her serene way to the sea. This is a big year for her as in August we celebrate (if that’s the right word) the 100th anniversary of her closure to commercial traffic following a devastating flood in which over 6 inches of rain fell on north Norfolk in just 12 hours preceeding the 26th of that month in 1912.  This flood washed out all 5 locks and destroyed all the bridges.

Commercial traffic in 1912 was already in terminal decline following the arrival of the railways and the revenues were such as repair to the infrastructure was deemed un-economic at the time. With the benefit of hindsight we can, perhaps, judge that decision harshly. I, myself, would shout down the loudhailer of time “Don’t do it”!! But they did do it or rather they didn’t in that they actually did nothing and just let the locks, infrastructure and even boats die in situ as an abandoned eyesore.

Buxton Lock many years after closure approx 1928 – it was filled in a few short years later
The above picture shows what must have become an eyesore, even a dangerous one if children were to play there. It is easy to condemn the decisions taken back then but they did not have the advantage of fore knowledge and if they had would it have made any difference? I suspect it might as the bottom line was profit and the slowly growing tourist trade would a few short years later (after the first war) become a major business that could have turned Aylsham in to something like Wroxham is now.
At this point in 1912 little did the Navigation people, the Commissioners, users, wherrymen, dydlers and pleasure seekers have any inkling of the fate to befall them in a little over 8 months time. In 2012 we do know that certain things will happen aincluding a celebration in Coltishall, the publication of a book, the adoption of a new logo and the hanging of an Aylsham Navigation Tapestry – all concrete events and achievements to be celebrated but is it enough?
We have formed a charity, the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust, to see things protected for the future and to promote riverside access along the Navigations length. We have attracted publicity for this – please see http://www.canalcuttings.co.uk/Bure-Navigation-Conservation-Trust-2011.html as an example. What we need now more than money (which we also need) is people so lease let me know if you’re keen to share our dream – stu.wilson100@btinternet.com
Buxton Mill and lock before the flood - imagine navigating through it today.

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