Archive for October, 2010

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

So what about the Waveney? These days, it’s the quiet one of the Broads navigation, perhaps because there are no turnings into flooded erstwhile peat diggings, which are the individual broads themselves, to offer diversions from the mainstream for the leisure boater. There is also that – for some – tricky passage through tidal Yarmouth to deter less confident boats from the Bure, the Northern River with its greatest concentration of broads.    

But the Waveney was busy once, when wherries hauled cargoes up and down between Yarmouth and Beccles. It was known as the Beccles river just as the even busier Yare was the Norwich river.  And in the 18th century, they extended the navigation up to Bungay with three locks and a toll system independent of the Yarmouth commissioners which made at least one proprietor very rich.

That upper section closed again in the 1930s after the railways and then the roads had taken the freight and now it’s canoe country although boaters can still reach the site of the lowest lock at Geldeston. Up there, between banks now lined with trees which would have robbed a wherry of wind, had they been there in the trading days, the Waveney has a touch of mystery, not to say Heart of Darkness. Read all about it in the November/December issue of Anglia Afloat.

And still on the Broads, there is Haddiscoe Island, a wavy-edged wedge of land in the angle between the Waveney and Yare made into an island with a 12 mile perimeter by the digging of the New Cut, the canal linking the rivers which was part of a 19th century convoluted attempt to make Norwich a port. That scheme, sponsored by Norwich merchants getting fleeced by the port of Yarmouth for handling their goods, created the port of Lowestoft, previously a small beach-launching fishing town, to provide  alternative sea access. Ill-conceived, badly managed and then overtaken by the arrival of the railways, the scheme never did a lot of business but it did create the Island which is now a place apart. Read about it in the November issue of The Countryman.