Saturday, 1 September 2012

Heigham: a text from the 1920s


EBAY has come up trumps again. This photo shows a loop of the Wensum around what is now the Heigham waterworks. Except that in 1922 the works had yet to be visible along this stretch at least. (If I’ve got it right we’re looking east, so it’s Hellesdon on the left and Heigham on the right. Do let me know if you disagree.)

As ever when you go back in time, it takes a while to tune into the different lingo. Put an ebay search out for “Norwich” and “Wensum” for example and you wouldn’t have found this one. In those days it was simply “The Back River” as opposed I guess, to the busy commercial Yare.

And you won’t find “Horse Shoe Bend” on any modern map either. It’s only a reference to Horse Shoe Reach on a 1767 map in the Norfolk Record Office that means I can be sure I know what I’m looking at. Mind you its horseshoe shape is clear enough on the modern OS Explorer map.

The other thing that initially bugged me about these postcards was who on earth would go on holiday and send this sort of card to friends? But again it was because I hadn’t tuned into the times properly.


Read the other side and you realise that these were quick missives scribbled out in much the same way as we would text or email. “Shall be back on Monday by bus if the roads are slippery. If not shall drive from Rugby” is the straightforward message on this one.

It is of course rather bizarre to be eavesdropping on a conversation 90 years on. But thanks to the late Mrs F Basson of Appendix Road, Rugby, another small piece of my book has fallen into place.


  1. I love little glimpses into other lives, long ago like that. I'm a sucker for reading any inscriptions in old books.

  2. I think the postcard is looking south east towards the first filterbeds at the waterworks, which would have been there at the time of this picture.
    Horse-shoe bend is the well known name to the bend just downstream of Sweat Briar road, well at least to us yocals!
    I used to fish from that very spot as a child in the 80's and I think you'd struggle to get to the same point now. The Wensum has become so overgrown and weeded up in the last 20 years it's untrue.

  3. Nice one Stuart. And since you know that neck of the woods...
    What is that bit of open land called on the north bank of the Wensum between Sweetbriar Bridge and Bayer Crop Science? There are quite a few paths but I've never heard it called anything.

  4. I think it's called Sweetbriar Marshes, there are lots of dykes criss-crossing it, but you can access it quite easily.