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Exploring Thetford’s riverside heritage

On a gloriously sunny April day, 24 participants joined BFER to explore the heritage of Thetford’s historical riverside.

Exploring Thetford’s riverside heritage

On a gloriously sunny April day, 24 participants joined BFER to explore the heritage of Thetford’s historical riverside.

The walk explored the history of work and leisure in relation to the town’s two rivers, the Thet and Little Ouse. The walk began at the old Coffee Mill. The Mill is mentioned in the Domesday book (11th century). It spent most of its working life as a corn mill. In the 40s and 50s, turbine powered grind stones ground coffee for the Ibex Coffee company, giving the building its nick name which still remains today.

During the walk, participants heard quotes and stories from Thetford residents. These were captured through the BFER oral history project, Tales from the River. One story recalled memories of fishing, for pike and chub.

“An older lady who lived in St Giles Lane, Miss Cracknell, would always give you sixpence for a half decent sized fish to feed her cat on.” Chris Thacker

Rivers and leisure

Fishing is still a popular activity along the river today. Another popular activity is outdoor swimming, and during the walk a group of swimmers were out enjoying the water. Historically, river swimming was a big part of the local community. The group saw the site of the former Thetford River Swimming Baths, where they heard memories of school swimming lessons and diving. Originally established in 1890 and reconstructed in the 20s, the baths were in use until the 1970s.

“[We went there]… on a Sunday afternoon especially, or when the weather was nice.… we used to go and listen to Top of the Pops on the radio on the other side of the river.” Adrian Bibby

 

Along the way, the group enjoyed the tranquillity of the riverside walk. BFER volunteers assisting with the walk shared a delightful range of nature poetry. The family friendly walk also included activities sheets for children.

Discover more!

This walk was led by BFER Tales from the River project lead Imogen Radford, with the support of a fantastic team of volunteers.

Find out more about Imogen’s heritage walks HERE

See the walk handout HERE

Try the walk yourself! Find the walking route HERE

 

Image credits: Morz Marlow

 

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