Video: Water floods into the longest man-made stretch of river at Bayfield Estate near Holt
- Credit: Archant
After more than six weeks of construction, it took just an hour for the water to reach the banks of the longest stretch of man-made river in the UK.
More than 40 people gathered at the Bayfield Estate to watch the diggers pull away the soil and allow the River Glaven to flow through its new route.
And at three-quarters of a mile long, it has restored a stretch of the river which was diverted through a brick tunnel more than 100 years ago.
'Give it a year and the valley floor will be grassed up,' said river designer Richard Hey at the opening yesterday. 'All the natural invertebrates will be colonising after drifting down the river system.'
It is hoped the new river will provide a habitat for wild trout, with the natural curves, dips and stone bed of the original river.
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The Glaven's natural course was disrupted when part of it was widened to create a lake in the hall's gardens in the 1820s.
Silt from Letheringsett Mill further up the river began polluting the lake, and the estate's former owners, the Jodrell family, became involved in an ongoing dispute with the mill owners, the Cozens Hardy family.
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It was eventually resolved, and a straight brick tunnel was built to divert the water flow from the lake in the 1890s.
But a group of organisations, including the Wild Trout Trust, the Norfolk Rivers Trust and the River Glaven Conservation Group, persuaded land owners Robin Combe and his son Robert to allow a new river to be built.
Mr Combe welcomed curious visitors to come and see the new river for themselves.
It was part of the £1.3m Nine Chalk Rivers project, won by Norfolk Rivers Trust from the Catchment Restoration Fund and match funded by £500,000 from local groups.
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