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.
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 the City from the top of Bixley Hill. Bixley was a small village then as now, although neither Trowse nor Bixley are mentioned by name. 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. There probably was , or else the river was forded. There were houses all along the road so that she referred to it as a suburb of the city, but 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. It was the church where my cousin David Anderson married Diana Harrod in 1958. At the time his mother Olive was Assistant Matron at Whitlingham Hospital in Trowse, a geriatric hospital. This I think would account for the choice of venue, although Diana also lived nearby she did not live in Trowse.
Back in the eighteenth century Richard Mackenzie Bacon’s 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) to be milled at Trowse Millgate, although in was on the other side of the city from Weston Longeville. 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 from the Crown Point Estate. 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. 24 Russell Terrace, Trowse was where my Great Grandfather Charles Mason eventually moved to from Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire to work for the Colmans as a coachman, although in the census he is described as a carter. He had an allotment behind the house, and grew flowers as well as vegetables, much to the amusement of his neighbours. 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 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 the name by which we knew Whitlingham Hospital, its name when it was home to the Colmans..
Across the rivers Tas and Yare is Trowse station, so it is in Trowse Millgate. The other part of Trowse is called Trowse Newton This hamlet of Trowse Millgate is part of Norwich, although ecclesiastically it is still a part of Trowse parish. The old sewage pumping station which stood on the county side of the line (but still across 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, at 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.