Blue Flower

On New Years Day 2022 we were given a picture from 1917 showing Royal Flying Corps Airmen from Narborough Aerodrome swimming in the river from the upper lock which was just down river from the railway bridge near the maltings.

Back in 2017, 100 years after the picture was taken, the site of the upper guillotine lock was explored, we cleared weeds and found the base of the lock, pieces of wood with nails from the lock gate and metal rods. The shape of the lock in the 1917 picture can be seen in the 2017 river bed photo. Dennis made an information board which is put beside the lock on open days. This lock is shown on the c1770 river map as ‘Stanch of Timber’ to the left of the road to Swaffham.

Narborough Aerodrome (near RAF Marham) was the largest in the country during the great war, it was operational from 1915 to 1919. There is an Aerodrome memorial on Chalk Lane opposite the Marham turning and an article about it on BBC News. A book about the aerodrome, and a chapter in The Book of Narborough tell the aerodrome story.

Just upstream from the lock is the railway bridge, the supporting piers are all that remain. The painting below shows the first train to cross the railway bridge which carried the Lynn to Dereham railway across to Narborough & Pentney station which was the other side of Pentney Road, now a private house. Sidings from the goods shed ran into The Maltings, see aerial pictures showing bridge, shed and wagons in sidings.

The railway piers area is now our visitors car park, pictures of the piers below show our Heritage Open Days 2020 check in team with their riverside transport next to the North pier, and visitors arriving for the photography group visit in 2016 showing the ivy covered riverside pier as well. The frosty picture shows all four piers after they were cleaned for inspection of the structures in 2022, the following pictures show all four of them from the Nar Valley Way footpath.

Thanks to David Turner for the 1917 photo.

Update: On 4/6/22 the picture of airmen swimming in the lock was laminated and put on a display board to go by the lock with the explanation sign on open days, it was first used at Heritage Open Days in September 2022.

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