The Olympic flame crossed the River Wensum this morning to a rendition of Rule Britannia.

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Minutes before the torch appeared on the opposite bank there was an eerie silence among the hundreds of families, schoolchildren and office workers who began gathering along Riverside Road at 6am.

Shortly after 7am they were rewarded with their first sighting of the golden torch which was carried to Pulls Ferry and lowered to a torchbearer on a boat.

It was then rowed across the river in a skiff, escorted by a flotilla of canoes and boats who followed the flame to Bishop Bridge.

The Norwich Philharmonic Chorus welcomed the torch’s arrival with Rule Britannia and sung Jerusalem to bid it farewell.

Linda Fish, 44, came from Wymondham with her children Annabelle, 12, and Alex, 10, to witness the crossing.

She said: “It is just really exciting.

“It is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Jo Cook, 42, from Wymondham, who took her children Ben, 10, and Amy, 8, to the river bank, said: “It is exciting for when it gets to London and you will be able to say you have seen it.”

Leisure boats also lined the moorings to watch the historic crossing.

The Simpson family from Stanstead in Essex booked their holiday to Norwich in December not realising the Olympic torch would be passing yards away from their boat.

Linda Simpson, 45, said: “We were so lucky. We’ve been moored here since Tuesday and decided to stay an extra night when we heard the torch was coming.”

A small flotilla of canoes and boats followed the flame to Bishop Bridge as it travelled along Riverside Road, and up Ketts Hill, Plumstead Road and St Williams Way on its journey to Thorpe St Andrew.

Ketts Hill bakery decked their shop out with Union Jacks at 5am to prepare for the torch’s passing.

Linda Etheridge from the bakery said: “We will never see it again. We had an excellent view.”

Holly Sandiford, 35, from Whitwell Road off Ketts HIll said: “It made it more exciting having it so close to our house.”

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