Let’s turn Norwich’s River Wensum into a draw for tourists, says watchdog

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:10 26 June 2012

The Norwich Society wants to see the River Wensum made more attractive for tourists. Society member Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge Photo: Steve Adams

The Norwich Society wants to see the River Wensum made more attractive for tourists. Society member Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge Photo: Steve Adams

Civic watchdogs have launched a rallying cry for more to be done to turn the River Wensum into a draw for tourists and businesses.

The Norwich Society says the most is not made of the river, compared to cities such as Cambridge.

Last night the society launched a new film to encourage a rethink over the way the river is used.

Shown to invited guests, including councillors, council officers, architects and business leaders, the Beside Still Waters film highlights how some parts of the river have been neglected, with poor access for the public.

The society says the river should be a focus for tourism, but suffers from a lack of joined-up thinking and under-investment.

Peter Bentley, chairman of the Norwich Society, said, at a time when people were buying more online, improving the river could be key to drawing people into the city centre.

He said: “The history, heritage and architecture of the city needs better promotion and to be made more accessible to visitors. Amongst all the treasures, the River Wensum is the most under promoted.”

While the film praised parts of the Riverside Walk, such as between the court buildings and the Compleat Angler, there was criticism of uglier buildings near New Mills Yard and at Mary Chapman Court in Duke Street.

The film followed a discussion paper drawn up by the Wensum River Parkway Partnership at the end of last year, which sparked a debate on the use of the river.

Alec Hartley, the society’s representative on that partnership, said: “Access to the river bank is the key. “Just one of the proposals we have pushed around is that maybe the Riverside area could consider extending itself onto the water, possibly with music boats, restaurant boats and river taxis going past the various pubs. That happens in many other river cities.”

He used Bedford as an example of a place which made the most of its river, hosting an annual river festival.

He said, while it might cost thousands to organise, such a festival generates money and Norwich should consider such an idea.

Last week Norwich City Council’s planning committee agreed plans which will enable the Canterbury Punting Company to run chauffeured punts on the river from a floating pontoon close to Norwich Playhouse in St Georges Street.

• Do you think more needs to be done to breathe new life into the river Wensum? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email


  • Lets clean up the city centre and repair the pavements first. Maintain what you have first before new projects.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • I have said before,the last place I want to visit,especially to moor up for the night is Norwich.To suggest river taxis that call in at pubs is stupid.When will people learn,booze and rivers do not go well together.Who would want to moor a boat up for the night and listen to music blaring through the night and all the rowdyism and vandalism that goes with it.People just do not understand how strong the currents are on the Wensum and in my view it is not a area for some of the ideas that have been put forward.I love Norwich,but the waterside is a no go area for me.

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    john kendall

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • I have to say though that it is a stretching it a bit far to compare the Wensum, formerly on the doorstep of weavers and boot makers with the Cam which has the Backs for a view! And the businesses attracted-well not more pub chains and not coffee shop chains or anything chain would be a good rule to start with. Seeing as theplayhouse is on the river,the art college is now a university college, the river is associated with the Norwich school and there are some stunning views looking up into the city maybe a leaning towards the arts and crafts, theatre and music as well as all the independent shops serving daily needs.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • I wonder how many people remember a Mr Seaman who rented out Skiffs and Canoes from his boatyard on the River Wensum in the 60s70s from a street off Heigham Street on the banks of the Wensum..This idea is not new,as me and so many Norwich Folk have enjoyed days out on the River Wensum

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    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • River taxis, punts, canoes, ice cream vendors, can all rejuvenate the river Wensum. Looking at the dismal bus service and the tiny contribution NCC makes to cycle tourism, the river might proof to be the fastes way to get from the train station to Magdalen street.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • I was out and about in that area these last few days and I think the society has a point. The river and the St George's Street, the area all round the cathedral and Magdalen Street have an attractiveness history and energy that makes them interesting to visitors and locals alike. Let the owners of Chapelfield which has sucked the life out of some parts of the city-the castle Mall for instance-and Marks and McDonalds contribute to cleaning up their patch which has been turned into some bland copy of anytown in the UK. If attention is turned to the river as a bit of a place of relaxation and interest it might help the shops and businessses along Bridewell and other routes down to the river and help keep the old buildings in repair There has been discussion about Anglia Square, which we all know was a monumental shame, but Magdalen Street bustles, has a lot of independent and interesting little shops selling stuff the Malls wont touch-it too could become a draw along with the river if looked after in the right way.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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