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Special open days to show off canal work

Canal fans from across Britain, and further afield, gave up their summer holidays to help restore part of Norfolk’s heritage.
More than 30 volunteers took part in a Waterways Recovery Group (WRG) camp on part of the unique North Walsham and Dilham Canal. The waterway is Norfolk’s only sailing canal with locks.
The workforce spent two weeks rebuilding the derelict spillway – or overflow – at Ebridge, just above the dilapidated lock.
Once finished, the restored spillway will make it easier to control water levels along the 19th-century waterway, which fell into disrepair after the last wherry sailed it in 1934.
The work at Ebridge, coupled with the newly-restored spillway 1.29 miles away at Royston and the almost-complete restoration of the lock at Bacton Wood Mill, means that it will soon be possible to water a dry section of the Canal, between Pigney’s Wood and Spa Common.
The added section will mean that a 3.7km (2.3 mile) stretch of the canal, originally nearly nine miles long, will have been re-opened, thanks to supporters and canal owners, over the past 17 years.
Work on the Royston spillway was carried out by volunteer work parties organised by the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust. They spent 851 hours over three months clearing, levelling and bricking the spillway, working at an angle of 45 degrees. A paid workforce on a basic wage would have earned about £6,000 in that time.
Bob Crow, who led the second week, said they would complete about 60% of the work needed to finish the Ebridge spillway.
Among the volunteers was Evelyne Laveaux who had travelled from her home in north-east France to help.
“I am very much interested in conservation and restoration and I am a teacher of English in France so this allows me to combine both interests, and practise my English,” she said.
“It’s varied work and it’s an opportunity to learn things I didn’t know, like bricklaying.”
The group stayed in North Walsham Scout Hut during their camp and fitted in trips to Norwich and Cromer.
Other volunteers, who included young people completing their Duke of Edinburgh Gold awards, came from places including Cardiff, Lichfield, London, Sheffield and Lancaster.
Bob, from Brightlingsea, said they had spent the first part of the camp ripping out concrete and bricks placed over the spillway as part of Second World War defences.
The hardest job had been rolling the ground to compact it, working on a 30 degree incline. They had then reinstated the crest wall at the top of the structure and had finally worked on brick-facing the weir slope.
The WRG workers attracted a lot of attention from the many dog walkers, canoeists, fishermen and other canal users. Bob added: “People kept stopping to say ‘Lovely work. When can you come and do my patio?’”
There will be a chance to learn all about the canal and its restoration on September 9 (11am-5pm) and September 10 (10am-4pm) when the trust takes part in the national Heritage Open Days.
Visit Ebridge Mill pond (NR28 9NG for satnav users) for the chance to walk the 2.5 miles of canal path, or bring a canoe and take to the water. The trust will be offering trips on a work boat and volunteers will be on hand to talk about the work parties.
Wildlife officer Perry Hampson will have photographs on display and be there to talk about the wealth of flora and fauna found on the canal. There will be heritage photos and a display of finds, as well as an information
and membership tent, refreshments, a tombola and bric-a-brac stall.

Ebridge spillway before restoration.

The work in progress over the summer

Subway for North Walsham

Fast food chain Subway has confirmed it is opening in North Walsham and is advertising for staff.

A spokesperson commented: “We are pleased to confirm that a new Subway® store will be opening within the McColl’s convenience store in North Walsham. The store is expected to open on October 18 and is recruiting for up to 10 jobs.”

Nick Lee, from the chamber of trade said, said: “North Walsham Chamber for business welcomes new business into the town, this shows North Walsham is a location national chains wish to be seen in. North Walsham has a uniqueness about it and is not just another high street. However we recognise that local customers also want national chains.”

Exhibition opens a window on the past

Anyone wanting a look back at North Walsham through the years should head to The Atrium, where the North Walsham & District Community Archive group will be displaying a selection of old photographs.
The new exhibition will feature a host of recently discovered photographs collected as a result of the archive group’s highly successful Facebook group which now boasts more than 5,000 members.
Organisers said this success had enabled the group to access to the extensive collections of local photographer Fred Mace, the archives of the North Walsham Historical Society and collections from renowned historians as well as many private collections.
Central to this year’s exhibition, by popular request, the exhibition will focus on industries in the town, including organisations most people have worked at, or know others who have worked at, such as the Steam Laundry, the Canning Factory, Crane Fruehauf and the Cottage Hospital, as well as pubs and shops.
Barry Holden will be presenting his very popular collection of “Then and Now” photos, where he revisits the spots where the originals were taken to re-photograph them today and display them side by side.
The archive group is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers with the aim of collecting the town’s history and making it available for everybody. It does this via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/NorthWalshamArchive/ and its website at: http://www.northwalshamarchive.co.uk/
Entry is by a £1 donation and the exhibition is being held over three days between August 17 and August 19. The gallery is open between 10am and 4pm.

 

Fairy story gets a new twist in the park

Lost children, wicked witches and houses made of sweets will be in North Walsham Memorial Park in August.
Expect catchy songs, larger than life characters and a plot with a twist as New Stages will present a new adaptation of the classic fairy story Hansel and Gretel, written by show director Joseph Ballard.
Joseph said: “Hansel and Gretel is a great story and we’ve given it a bit of a twist to present some family theatre for free in the park.
“It’s great to be able to inspire the local area with live theatre through our regular classes and our performances in town and I hope the community will come and support us.”
Actors will be accompanied by members of North Norfolk Youth Theatre, who will play some of the children who have been captured by the greedy witch. Andrew Burrell, 12, and Megan Howlett, 17, who both live in North Walsham, will play the title characters.
North Walsham Town Council has also supported the project to bring free theatre alive in the summer holidays.
The show will take place on Wednesday, August 9, at 2pm and 6pm in the park. Audiences are advised to bring seating or blankets and a picnic – just don’t eat the children!
You can also see Hansel and Gretel at Worsted Festival on July 29 and 30 in the display ring.
New Stages are also presenting the North Norfolk Youth Theatre Summer School for 8-17 year olds on August 21-23 and 26 in North Walsham. Some places are still available and you can find more information on their website – www.new-stages.co.uk.
 

 

North Walsham Road closure cancelled

The  B1150 North Walsham Road will not be closing overnight tonight (Friday, July 21), after the early completion of surfacing at the new Norwich Northern Distributor Road roundabout.
The road will not have any traffic management in place over the weekend, but temporary  lights will be in use as needed from Monday, July 24, for work on verges, traffic islands, paths and signs.
During peak hours the lights will be manually controlled, but as work progresses they will mainly be used outside the busiest periods.

Bringing the Bard to the people of North Walsham – by bike

A pedal-powered theatre company is bringing a novel production of a Shakespeare comedy to a Norfolk college – by bicycle.

The Handlebards touring drama group has taken the classic plays of England’s most famous writer to two countries and three continents since it was set up on a shoestring four years ago.

A four-strong female cast will perform As You Like It in the grounds of Paston Sixth Form College (Lawns site) at North Walsham on Friday June 9 – in a picnic-style show organised by the Sheringham Little Theatre.

The plays are billed as energetic, chaotic, full of laughter, and featuring lots of costume changes and cross-dressing for the single sex cast.

Hand-crafted Pashley bikes are used in the show, and – with trailers – to provide sustainable transport for the show’s set, props and costumes as well as cast.

The Handlebards aim to take Shakespeare to communities in a eco-friendly, accessible way. They have also promoted British culture on tour in Africa and Asia.

As You Like It will tell the story of lovers Rosalind and Orlando who have been forced into exile in the Forest of Arden and find themselves entangled in a game of love, lust and mistaken identity.

Little Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “Our theatre has close links with Paston College, especially its drama department, and we are delighted to be able to link up with the college again to stage this novel outdoor Shakespeare production, which should be fun for students and local families alike.”

Doors open at 6pm, with audience members encouraged to pack a picnic and chairs – but to bring ponchos and raincoats, not umbrellas, in case the weather is wet. The show runs from 7pm to 9pm.

For tickets (£12, students £6) and more information contact the Little Theatre box office on 01263 822347 or visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

The HandleBards taking Shakespeare on tour – with pedal power. Picture: Rah Petherbridge

Half-term fun outside and in

A host of children’s activities will be on offer at Cromer, North Walsham and Stalham community sports centres over the forthcoming May half-term.

The sessions offer youngsters aged between four and 12 the chance to take part in football fun days, shooting, skating and street-dancing, as well as summer sports days and multi-sports events.

The events will take place between Tuesday, May 30, and Friday, June 2, at the North Norfolk District Council-managed centres.

As well as these activities, there are countryside events taking place in Holt Country Park and Sadler’s Wood, North Walsham. The fun on offer includes shelter-building, a look at amphibians, reptiles and lizards and the chance to build and launch a water rocket.

All-day activities are priced at £10 while shorter sessions are priced between £2 and £3.50. To make things easier for parents, there is the added option of arranging early drop-offs and late pick-ups for just £2 at some of the events.

Maggie Prior, cabinet member for leisure, health and wellbeing, said: “These sessions offer great fun for children while keeping them busy and healthy.”

To download a brochure with more details, visit www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/sports

To book the sports-centre events, visit www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/book. Booking is not required for the countryside events at Holt Country Park and Sadler’s Wood, but children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. For further details of these activities, email anne-marie.gedge@north-norfolk.gov.uk or call 07920 576634.

Man jailed for 10 years following North Walsham hit and run

A man has been jailed after a hit and run in North Walsham last year which left the victim with serious leg injuries.

Darren Blackmore, aged 43 and of Laburnum Close in Wymondham, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Norwich Crown Court today (Friday 5 May).

Blackmore was driving a Peugeot 307 when he deliberately drove at a 30-year-old man as he was walking with two male friends through the Vicarage Car Park at 12.55am on Saturday 23 July 2016.

CCTV footage released by detectives following the incident showed the victim being knocked into the air and up to 15 feet from point of contact. The vehicle was then driven around the car park before a second attempt is made to drive towards the victim.

The court heard how Blackmore had travelled to North Walsham earlier that evening after being called by a friend who told him that they had been mugged.

Blackmore wrongly identified three men who he believed to have committed the alleged crime as they walked through the Vicarage Car Park and it was at that point that Blackmore drove at speed into the car park and straight at the victim, knocking him into the air.

The victim suffered a broken pelvis and serious leg injuries.

Detective Inspector Matt Dyson said: “This was a shocking crime which has had a significant impact on the victim and could have had potentially fatal consequences.

“The very serious deliberate act was most likely due to a relatively minor matter earlier the evening before, a matter that the victim and his friends had no part in. We thank the press and public for the positive response in relation to the initial press release and we hope that the sentencing provides some comfort for the victim.”