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That sinking feeling - Our long history of sinkholes

PUBLISHED: 11:52 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:43 15 March 2018

A picture from 1988 showing the double decker bus in the sink hole. Picture: John Folkes

A picture from 1988 showing the double decker bus in the sink hole. Picture: John Folkes

Archant

A sinkhole which opened in a busy Norwich city centre road this week is the latest in a series of holes and collapses over the years in Norfolk – with the most famous being the “bus in a hole” in Earlham Road in 1988.

Trinity Street in Norwich where an Ace Skips lorry sunk into the road. Photo: Adam ScoreyTrinity Street in Norwich where an Ace Skips lorry sunk into the road. Photo: Adam Scorey

On Tuesday, Rouen Road in Norwich was closed off and could remain shut well into next week after a sinkhole opened up.

The hole was caused by a burst pipe and the ground collapsed underneath a parking car.

Fortunately the occupants of the vehicle were not harmed, however the road will remain closed over the weekend, coinciding with a Norwich City home game.

Many fans use Rouen Road to park for home games.

A car in sinkhole on Rouen Road is lifted out.  Picture: ANTONY KELLYA car in sinkhole on Rouen Road is lifted out. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Earlier this year, residents of Meadowbrook Close in Lakenham were shocked to find two sinkholes had opened on the road.

Keith Driver, Norwich city councillor for Lakenham, and former mayor, was knocking on constituent doors last month when he noticed them.

He said: “It must be quite frightening waking up with a hole in your front garden.”

The first hole appeared in the pavement, while another larger hole, which spanned over two front gardens, opened two days later.

Plumstead Road in Norwich was closed due to a sinkhole. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYPlumstead Road in Norwich was closed due to a sinkhole. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

In 2016, the city’s Plumstead Road was closed after a “six-metre deep cavern” was discovered.

That same year a 20-foot-deep sinkhole appeared at Norwich’s Plantation Garden, which was close to the site of the 1988 sinkhole which swallowed a double-decker bus.

The number 26 bus fell into the 26ft deep hole on Earlham Road on March 3, 1988.

The story and a picture of the bus stuck in the hole made headlines around the world.

A hole in the road in Furze Road, Norwich. Photo: Andy DarnellA hole in the road in Furze Road, Norwich. Photo: Andy Darnell

An old chalk mine, dating from the 11th century, gave way as the driver was pulling off.

Fortunately the passengers managed to scramble off before the vehicle slipped further into the cavernous pit.

In one of the worst incidents to hit the city, two people were killed on May 11, 1936, when an 80ft-deep sinkhole swallowed three homes on Merton Road.

The disaster claimed the lives of Thomas Hall and his wife.

Workmen repair a hole that appeared in a Norwich street in 1988. Picture: Archant LibraryWorkmen repair a hole that appeared in a Norwich street in 1988. Picture: Archant Library

Further afield, a garden at a Thetford house was destroyed after a massive sinkhole opened in 2016. The hole, which was around 15ft by 10ft and about 8ft deep caused two walls to collapse and a double garden gate.


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