Aylsham

Discover Millgate with heritage walk

Just Regional
Aug 17, 2016 3 mins read

Broadland’s great mix of industrial history, stately homes and churches is reflected in this year’s Heritage Open Days (HODs), which takes place from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 September.

The 2016 local HODs brochure is out now, and features 14 events across the district, ranging from tours of a Cold War airfield to a chance to look inside some of the area’s iconic mills.

Booking is now open for open-top bus tours around former RAF Coltishall, once a WWII and Cold War airfield, with commentary by expert guides from the Spirit of Coltishall Association. You’ll visit the Technical Area, Hangars and Control Tower, a rare WWII fighter pen and the Explosives Storage Area, plus there’s also a chance to see Scottow Moor Solar, one of the largest solar farms in Europe.

You can also book to see behind the grand façades of some of the area’s homes, including the Georgian, Grade II-listed Catton Place, once owned by a Mayor of Norwich, and the 18th-century Thorpe Lodge, now the offices of Broadland District Council, but once home to the wealthy Harvey family of textile merchants and bankers.

There are plenty of drop-in events over the long heritage weekend too. New for this year is a guided tour of Blofield Courthouse, a Grade II-listed building that was used as a courthouse from 1904 until 1970. The tour, on Saturday, includes a visit to the original holding cells for the accused, which remain unchanged.

You can also take a peek inside a couple of the district’s iconic mills, with Berney Arms Windmill and Polkey’s Mill at Reedham both opening their doors to the inquisitive.

Aylsham Local History Society will be offering a guided walk on the Sunday, looking at Millgate and the Aylsham Navigation – once an 11-mile route used by wherries all the way through to Great Yarmouth, until the 1912 flood destroyed the locks.

Sheila Merriman, Aylsham event organiser, said: “Millgate in Aylsham is one of those roads that you drive down but often don’t have time to look at the buildings. But the buildings along this ancient way tell the story of what was once the commercial hub of Aylsham. Wherrymen, brewers and millers were among the 164 workers who lived in Millgate in the nineteenth century. On every history walk in Aylsham there are people who say ‘I’ve lived here for years and I never noticed that…’ Heritage Open Days provides a great chance to discover more about your local area.”

Councillor Karen Vincent, Broadland District Council’s member champion for heritage, said: “We have a wealth of outstanding heritage in the district, which plays a key part in our tourism industry and local economy. The Heritage Open Days festival is always a fantastic opportunity to take a look behind usually closed doors, and we are excited to be once again part of this year’s event. We urge people to discover for themselves the wonderful history on offer, as well as exploring our unspoilt villages and vibrant market towns.”

For more details of all events, including dates, times and how to book, visit the national site www.heritageopendays.org.uk, pick up the local brochure from sites around the county, or download a copy from www.theforumnorwich.co.uk. For more information about the area, follow @VisitBroadland on Twitter.

Millgate

Millgate

More of what's happening in Aylsham