Sunday 26th August 2012 (part of the bank holiday weekend) is the 100th anniversary to the day of the worst inland flood in Norfolk’s recent history. Sadly lives were lost in Norwich and on the Bure many bridges including the one at Coltishall were washed away. What is less well known is that until that date wherries were able to navigate on the Aylsham Navigation. It went for 9.5 miles beyond the current head of navigation on the Bure via 5 locks and ended in the market town of Aylsham. It opened in 1779 and was chiefly designed for the carriage of agricultural and building materials along with fuel in the form of coal from the coast. The website http://aylsham-navigation.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/ gives much more detail on the history and route. The flood washed out all the locks and it was deemed uneconomic at the time to reinstate them. Imagine if they had the cruising experience on the Broads could take you through the locks and in to Aylsham.
On the 26th August at Coltishall Common there is an event to comemmorate the Aylsham Navigation and the flood which destroyed it. The wherry Albion and other interesting boats will be in attendance along with exhibitions, entertainment, stalls and family fun. For the children there will be a bouncy castle and much more. It opens at noon and runs till 5pm.
Getting to this event could be part of the fun. Car parking in Coltishall is very limited although some has been provided it might be a bit of a walk to the site. However you could arrive by boat if you have one or by car and park at the Roy’s overspill car park in Hoveton opposite the Bure Valley Railway (BVR) Station by their kind permission. There will be a shuttle service operated from the BVR Station using a 1959 Bedford coach – there will however have to be a small charge for this service to defray costs. You could also travel from Aylsham to Wroxham on the BVR or the mainline railway from Norwich or Sheringham / Cromer and alight at Hoveton and Wroxham Station and then also catch the shuttle coach. Travelling in style you will be able to eat, drink and be entertained at the event.