19 things we'll remember about Norfolk from the past 10 years
PUBLISHED: 20:00 19 December 2019
On the brink of a new decade we look back through 10 years of triumph, tragedy, some significant changes and some things that might never change in Norfolk.
During the last decade...
1. Norfolk was finally linked to the rest of the world. Or at least there was a way of driving to London on dual (or more!) carriageway for the entire journey. The campaign to dual the A11 had been going for decades and the final stretch, between Thetford and Barton Mills was opened in December 2014. Not everyone was thrilled. Some pined for a hard border with Suffolk, others for the schadenfreude of returning home against a completely clogged southbound carriageway every summer Sunday afternoon.
2. The 12-mile Broadland Northway was built around the north of Norwich from Taverham to Postwick between 2015 and 2018. Also called the Northern Distributor Road, and less officially The Road to Nowhere, and "Woah, there's a roundabout ahead."
3. The Radio One Big Weekend brought Taylor Swift, the Foo Fighters, Muse and other world-famous musicians to Earlham Park, Norwich, in 2015. All 55,000 tickets were snapped up within 40 minutes of going live. Snoop Dogg took to the stage in a Norwich City shirt and Taylor Swift said playing in Norfolk was a highlight of her year.
4. In other big gig news, Never Forget thousands flocked to Carrow Road to see Take That wow crowds with getting on for A Million Love Songs in 2017. Take That returned to Shine, Relight My Fire, and disprove Everything Changes earlier this year.
5. Carrow Road was also the scene of some exhilarating football (and some that was less magical but let's focus on how the Canaries were unbeaten by Ipswich for the entire decade, and celebrated promotion to the Premier League not once, not twice, but three times.)
6. It began with the gorillas in 2013, then there were dragons in 2015, and hares in 2018. Every few summers our streets and open places were colonised by colourful creatures raising money to help Norfolk charity Break support children and young people across East Anglia. Look out for the return of the age of the dinosaurs in 2020.
7. The Golden Mile at Yarmouth is shining more brightly thanks to the inspired restoration of the Venetian Waterways and a revamp right along its length. However, the once-beautiful Winter Gardens, famously brought by sea from Devon in 1904 without losing a single pane of glass, has remained closed all decade and is now at risk of collapse.
8. Waves break over the ruins of an ancient monastery and a stone tower slowly fills with shimmering water. A street away, cloaked skeletons and a sea monster scale turrets and vast bright clocks whirl through star-spangled skies. On the quayside, mariners set sail for uncharted lands. This is Lynn Lumiere, the transformation of familiar King's Lynn buildings from dusk until 10pm every night. The projections first appeared at St Nicholas' Chapel, the Tuesday Market Place, the Custom House, the Minster, New Conduit Street and Greyfriars Tower in 2015.
9.Some Norwich building projects have been triumphs - step forward Goldsmith Street, the 105 council houses which this year won the prestigious Stirling Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects. At the beginning of the decade this was a demolition site, tainted by a housing scandal. Now Goldsmith Street is a "modest masterpiece" praised for its design, sustainability and communal and social impact. Other projects, like an Anglia Square revamp, have been talked about throughout the decade, and long before, with the latest scheme moving beyond pie, controversially high, in the sky, to a planning inquiry next year.
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10. Every year parts of coastal Norfolk crumble into the sea. The terrible toll of the erosion on people's homes, land and livelihoods was particularly devastating in December 2013 when the biggest tidal storm surge to hit Norfolk since hundreds died in 1953, inundated vulnerable land and destroyed homes in villages including Hemsby, Happisburgh and Winterton.
11. Better news for our beleaguered north-eastern coast with the expansion of the seal colony. Other Norfolk wildlife successes this decade include more cranes, more otters and the reintroduction of the pool frog to restored pingos in the Brecks.
12. One of the biggest changes has been out at sea, with more and more renewable energy feeding into the national grid from wind farms off the coast of Norfolk. The Sheringham Shoal wind farm opened in 2012 and the Dudgeon wind farm, 19 miles off Cromer, opened in 2017.
13. Royal Christmas at Sandringham saw a constellation of new stars arrive over the last 10 years. Alongside the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and their children and grandchildren, the crowds first welcomed Prince William's new wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in 2011, and then over the next few years Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis made their first festive appearances.
14. In November this year the Duchess of Cambridge opened the new Nook hospice, following a five year, £10m, fundraising campaign. The fund currently stands at £9.55m and this autumn children and families began receiving care at the new hospice in Framingham Earl, which is part of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.
15. Colman's had been making mustard in and around Norwich for more than 200 years, but in July 2019 the final jar of Colman's of Norwich mustard was made in the city as Unilever moved production of the famous condiment to the Midlands and Germany. Norwich's Mustard Shop and Museum was also permanently closed during the decade.
16. At the beginning of the decade it was feared RAF Marham could close - but in 2011, following this newspaper's Make it Marham campaign, it was announced that Marham would remain as a base for the RAF's Tornado force. The final Tornado flew over Marham in March 2019, but in October the new F-3 Lightning stealth fighter planes arrived to secure the future of RAF Marham.
17. In 2014 Norwich became England's first Unesco City of Literature and in 2019 it was named the UK's first official "sharing city" for its collaberative economy - think organisations like Liftshare, The Feed, Norwich Food Hub, Norwich Car Club and Goodgym.
18. Colour-coded Norwich Pedalways began helping to make Norwich a city fit for the future, and safer and easier to cycle in and through. Many motorists did not love the disruption and a few failed to realise most cyclists represent another car removed from the jams.
19. Norfolk Day was launched by this newspaper and BBC Radio Norfolk in 2018. Obviously every day is Norfolk day to the residents and admirers of God's own county, but the chance to ramp up the celebrations was embraced by many thousands of people, plus visitor attractions, businesses and organisations. It was so successful it has become a fixture in the county's calendar - roll on July 27 2020!