It is a notable place on the river Yare, especially the riverside part of the village, around the pub the Woods End. It was a resort back in the early years of the nineteenth century, and a hundred years later it was the place to which Billy Bluelight used to race the pleasure steamers from Norwich. On the south side of the river is is flanked by a steep hill, but to the north by a wide expanse of watermeadows.
It is the start of the annual River Yare rowing race, and in 2003 the Yare Cup was won by my son Peter, rowing for Norwich School. We still have the inscibed tankard in the dresser. (I should mention that his success was down to the fact that his opponents never showed up!) So as you can tell it has been a place of pleasure making for over 200 years. It has an unusually long stretch of road running alongside the river from the common to the Woods End pub. For many years this was not made up, except by residents emptying their ashpans, and was riddled with pot holes.
This pub (the Woods End) was popular with drinkers from both the road and the river. In the days when sea-going coasters used to go up the river to Norwich this was popular place to stop. Moored to a tree, the crew could spend a pleasant evening in the pub before passing the night aboard. The picture of the laden wherry dates from the early nineteenth century and was painted by Joseph Stannard, a member of The Norwich School of artists. It appears that at that time the Woods End (to the far left) was only a single storey building – always assuming that this a true representation and no artistic licence was used.
From 1972 for about a decade my Aunt Olive (Anderson) lived in a cottage in Bramerton. It cost her £2,000, and that was after a rapid period of inflation; only a few years before it would have been worth half that. You would have multiply that figure by more than 100 now, for a cottage with a lovely view over the river valley. I had been a fairly frequent visitor to Bramerton even before my Aunt moved there; it was favourite spot for fishing. Roach and perch were the sort of fish I caught, but most of all I liked to fish for eels. They tied the line in knots, but they could be taken home and eaten fried for breakfast! Down a loke leading to the river, behind Olive’s cottage, was a huge witch’s broom growing from the branch of a pine tree. It was just outside Mr Mitchell’s house. This distinctive growth is produced by a disease; eventually it became so large it broke the branch it was on. Slighty nearer to the Norwich to Rockland Road there was a field where you could pick-your-own strawberries, but I cannot remember a shop in the village. I don’t think there was one. There was a pub of course and a few places where you buy vegetables in season.
The most memorable occasion at Bramerton was the middle of February 1978, when I walked to her cottage through the snow from Poringland, she being otherwise cut off by the weather. I remember the snow very well for it started on my bithday (the 14th) and didn’t stop for days. On my birthday I had gone to Bramerton to visit my Aunt and the roads were quite passsable, but they became worse and worse. Eventually a day or two later I decided to walk the three or four miles to Aunt Olive’s house, and take her bread and milk. My road to the City was still open but hers was blocked to cars. I was accompanied by my dog Fido who loved going through the drifts. It was cold but bright, and good fun for a young man. I spent some agreeable time with Auntie Olive; she had plenty of fuel so her fire was alight and at least we kept warm. The only thing was I had to walk the three or four miles home through the snow!
I have written further on this snowy winter of 1978 in the post It Snowed in those Days (February 2015)and more on Bramerton and the Elizabeth Fry connection in June 2015.