Breathing new life into a river Norwich turned its back on

The City of Norwich viewed from the River Wensum. The Lady Julian Bridge at Riverside. Picture: Deni

The City of Norwich viewed from the River Wensum. The Lady Julian Bridge at Riverside. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

It is no exaggeration to say that without the River Wensum, there would be no Norwich.

Proposals for Generation Park.

Proposals for Generation Park. - Credit: Archant

The city grew around the winding river. Until the arrival of the railway and modern roads, it was how goods and trade came to the city, which was once England's second largest.

The stone to build the cathedral arrived by boat. The river was the very lifeblood of the city.

But about 200 years ago, everything changed, with families who used to live in riverside homes moving to the suburbs. The river became a backwater.

The new strategy, developed by Norwich City Council, the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council and the Wensum River Parkway Partnership, aims to change that.

Wensum River Parkway Partnership chairman Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge. He is calling for a

Wensum River Parkway Partnership chairman Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge. He is calling for a debate on how best to breathe new life into the area along the river that passes through the entire of Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams


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Alec Hartley, chairman of the Wensum River Parkway Partnership, is optimistic that Norwich can become a river city once more.

He said: 'At the moment there are hardly any access points to the river. There are two pontoons which are not used and two slipways which are too steep.'

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Mr Hartley said the development of Friars Quay in the 1970s was an example of how to get housing development right.

But he said: 'If you want an example of bad practice, then there's Read's Flour Mill, which has cut the river off.

'The proposals for Generation Park are another example of getting it right, with the housing set back some distance from the river.'

And what of the Riverside complex, so often viewed as a missed opportunity, given that most of the buildings have their backs to the river.

Mr Hartley said: 'It would be quite easy to turn it to face the river. And it would be good to have moorings there, although they would need to be secure.'

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