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Let's save Norwich's historic city walls

PUBLISHED: 07:59 27 April 2010 | UPDATED: 10:21 01 July 2010

The new chairman of heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society has pledged to improve the state of the city's medieval walls and backed Norwich's bid to become the UK's City of Culture.

The new chairman of heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society has pledged to improve the state of the city's medieval walls and backed Norwich's bid to become the UK's City of Culture.

David Bale

The new chairman of heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society has pledged to improve the state of the city's medieval walls and backed Norwich's bid to become the UK's City of Culture.

The new chairman of heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society has pledged to improve the state of the city's medieval walls and backed Norwich's bid to become the UK's City of Culture.

Prof Derek Burke, who has taken over from predecessor Alec Hartley, also wants the people of Norwich to take more pride in their city.

The 80-year-old, who lives in Cringleford, has agreed to be chairman for just one year, in light of his age, and joked that when he was offered the post they were taking “a bit of a risk”.

He said: “The city walls are decaying and have been neglected. The society is going to do something about them, working in partnership with English Heritage and the city council.

“The walls at Carrow Hill, which are some of the most complete, are in particularly bad shape.

“Trees are growing out of the walls, and the hard winter has affected the bricks and stones, which have been forced apart.

“We will be looking for volunteer help to do this, and are also considering using people on community service to carry out some of the labour involved.

“Removing the growth on the walls is a specific job, but some of the work is just labour. It would be awful if we lost the walls through neglect.

“We also want to look at the state of the Guildhall, where scaffolding seems to have been up for as long as I can remember.”

He said he also wants to instil a new sense of pride in the city among its residents.

“The people of Norwich are often unaware of how much their city offers, and take it for granted,” he said. “And people across the country also don't know what an amazing city it is.

“For a comparatively small city to have two cathedrals, one of the biggest collections of churches in Europe, a huge collection of medieval buildings and some new great modern buildings is remarkable. This is an amazing city.”

He also backed the city's bid to become the first UK City of Culture in 2013 and the project to make Norwich a UNESCO City of Literature.

“Both are very important for the city's future,” he said.

The Norwich Society is a civic society founded in 1923 and is known in Norwich as a watchdog on conservation and planning issues. It has 830 private members and 48 corporate and Non-Profit members.

Professor Burke was vice-chancellor at the UEA from 1987-1995 and chairman of the council of the John Innes Centre, Norwich at the same time.

He retired in 1995 and after a spell in Cambridge returned to Norwich in 2005.

He took over from Mr Hartley, who had been chairman for 22 months, at the society's AGM this week, and Peter Bentley, who is currently chairman of the Friends of Elm Hill, became the new vice-chairman.

What buildings in the city does the Norwich Society particularly need to fight to protect? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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