Autumn 1958, Trowse.

Autumn 1958, Trowse.

Trowse has been turned into a sleepy back-water since the construction of the Norwich Southern By-pass. Before then it had always been on the main route from Lowestoft and Bungay into the City. With the growth of dormitory villages and the motor car it had become a very busy place. Now it is the quietest it has been in centuries.

Old and new signals at Trowse about 1970; both now gone. The bridge replaced a level crossing which used to cross the railway about 100 years ago. The railngs around the footpath were to keep pedestrians separated from the cattle when this was the main way into the old market.

Back in 1698, at the end of the 17th century, Trowse was the way Celia Fiennes made her entrance into the City. She had come from Beccles and got her first view of Norwich from the top of Bixley Hill. Neithe Trowse nor Bixley were named by Fiennes, but they can be identified from her description. Bixley was a small village then as now.There was a causeway across the low lying land approaching the rivers Tas and Yare in Trowse.  There were ditches across this tract of marsh. She mentions a bridge across the river Yare; whether or not there was a bridge across the Tas back then she does not say. Until she reached the marsh there were houses all along the road very much as there are today.  She referred to the village as a suburb of the city. What struck her most of all was all the woollen cloth (stuff) laid out on the fields to bleach in the sun. We can still appreciate the suburban nature of Trowse, but the cloth industry that was such a feature of the City has utterly vanished.

The church in Trowse is on the banks of the River Tas, and it is prone to flood during exceptionally wet seasons. There are records of it being inundated going back 300 years. It is so obviously a bad place that I wonder why it was built on such low-lying land. It was in this church that my cousin David Anderson married Diana Harrod in 1958.  At the time his mother Olive was Assistant Matron at a care home, Whitlingham Hospital in Trowse. This I think would account for the choice of venue. Diana also lived nearby in Bracondale but she did not live  in Trowse itself.

School Terrace, Trowse

School Terrace, Trowse

Back in the eighteenth century Richard Mackenzie Bacon, the editor of the Norwich Mercury, had family connections with Trowse. His mother Katherine was the daughter of the Vicar of Trowse, the Rev John Kirby. I have written on R. M. Bacon in other blogs (e.g. May 2012).  Also in the 18th century Parson Woodforde used to send his corn (which he had grown on the church farm in Weston Longville) to be milled at Trowse Millgate, although it was on the other side of the city from Weston. I am hoping to discover why he sent his corn so far when there were many closer mills, both wind and water powered. I can only think that the Trowse miller must have given him a particularly good price. In July 1785 a bare knuckle boxing match was held in Trowse, which was won by Haylett of Coltishall.

Trowse was further developed in the nineteenth century with estate cottages for the Colman workers. These included both servants from the Crown Point Estate and employees from nearby Carrow Works. It was to one of these cottages  that my great-grandmother Susan Peachey (nee Jones) moved when her husband ceased to be the warrener down White Horse Lane in Arminghall.  25 Russell Terrace, Trowse, was also where my great-grandfather Charles Mason (on the other side of the family) finally moved. He was born near Stone in Staffordshire, and after his marriage lived in Easton to the west of Norwich, and also in Kent and Northamptonshire. He had always worked with animals, both horses and dogs. He found work for the Colmans as a carter. He had an allotment behind the house, and grew flowers as well as vegetables, much to the amusement of his neighbours, who could see no point in growing flowers.

The Crown Point Tavern is now cut off from the Kirby and Lowestoft Roads, but before they were altered in the 1980s it was at the junction of two main routes into Norwich. The busiest was of course the road up Bixley Hill which took all the traffic to and from Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay. The pub was a handy place to drop in at lunch time for a pint on the way home. Crown Point was also the name by which we knew Whitlingham Hospital, its name when it was home to the Colmans and before that to Colonel Money.

trowse siding309 - Copy

The siding at Trowse pumping station

The hamlet of Trowse Millgate is administered as part of Norwich, although ecclesiastically it is still a part of Trowse parish. The old sewage pumping station which stood just to  the far side of the railway line (but still to the city side of the rivers) is similarly part of Trowse Millgate. My picture shows the short siding at Trowse where the coal trucks were unloaded to fire the pumping engine for the City’s sewage. This photograph was taken in the mid 1960s, by which time the old coal fired pump had been out of use for several years. The siding however does not look too overgrown. The gentleman in the grey Mac and the Trilby hat is my father.




One response

  1. Another lovely look into the past of Norfolk by Joe Mason. He is to be congratulated on his local knowledge.


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