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The River Wensum is a river in Norfolk, England and a tributary of the River Yaremarker despite being the larger of the two rivers. The complete river is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC). .


The river receives its name from the Old English adjective wandsum, wendsum meaning winding.


The source of the Wensum lies between the villages of Colkirkmarker and Whissonsettmarker in Norfolk. The river flows westward initially close to the villages of South Raynhammarker,West Raynhammarker and East Raynhammarker passing close to Raynham Hallmarker, home of the Marquis Townshend. The river then turns and follows a path to the north flowing through a number of small villages until it reaches Sculthorpemarker. The river then turns and flows to the east through the market town of Fakenhammarker. The river then flows in a south easterly direction passing through the Pensthorpe Nature Reservemarker and the village of Great Ryburghmarker.

The river continues onwards through or close to the villages of Guistmarker, North Elmhammarker, Worthingmarker, Swanton Morleymarker, Lyngmarker, Lenwademarker and Taverhammarker before entering the City of Norwichmarker from the north via Draytonmarker, Costesseymarker and Hellesdonmarker. The river is free fishing where accessible throughout the City. At New Mills Yard, a former waterworks, the river becomes tidal and navigable by boat. Flowing through the city, the river forms a broad arc which would have influenced the site of the settlement for defensive reasons; remnants of boom towers can be seen near Wensum Park and Carrow Hill which formed part of the city wall, a large defensive tower can be seen on the bank near Barrack Street, called Cow Towermarker This dates to the 12th Century and was also used for collecting tolls. The river's historical use as a means of transport for goods and trade from the continent is still visible; mills, quays and industrial remnants can be found near the station and along King Street, and a slipway at Pulls Ferrymarker marks the start of a canal originally used to transport stone from Caen in Normandy, in the 13th Century, to build Norwich Cathedralmarker. This site was also a public house and used as a River Ferry until the 1950s.

The Wensum flows out of the city via Trowsemarker, to Whitlinghammarker where it merges with the River Yare. The river is navigable from the New Mills Yard in the centre of Norwich to its confluence with the Yare.



Bintree Mill, 2005 (photo by Mark Boyer)
Lenwade mill
There were a succession of water mills on the Wensum, some of which are still standing and working. From the source these are

Other mills close on tributaries are

Bridges (Norwich)

Bishop Bridge is one of five medieval bridges which span the River Wensum. Built in 1345 it formed part of the defensive structure along the river, with a gatehouse on the city side of bridge which was demolished in 1791. It is positioned on the site of a Roman Ford.

Fye Bridge is arguably the oldest river crossing in Norwich and is the gate to the North of the City known as “Norwich over the water” this bridge was also the site of a cucking stool for ducking lawbreakers and undesirables.

Whitefriars Bridge Named after a former Carmelite (White Friars) monastery. The remains of which can still be seen in a small section of medieval wall and archway.

Foundry Bridge Near the railway station and the Yacht station on Riverside named after a foundry nearby, purported to have been built to take a railway line.

Carrow Bridge near the football ground is a more recent cantilevered swing bridge, which can still be opened to allow large or high vessels through. It is positioned in close proximity to the Boom towers which originally had a chain suspended between them and would have been used as part of the citys defences and as a method of collecting tolls on goods travelling up river from Great Yarmouth.

Novi Sad Friendship Bridge is a cable footbridge which spans the River Wensum in Norwichmarker. The structure is named in recognition of the twinning ties between Norwich and Novi Sadmarker in Serbiamarker. The bridge was designed by Buro Happold and commissioned by Norfolk County Council.

There are further bridges at Barn Road, Anchor Quay, Duke Street and St. Georges Street.


In November 2008, local angler Chris Mack caught a barbel from the Norfolk Anglers' Conservation Association (NACA) fishery at Lyng. The fish a rod-caught record for British waters awaits ratification from the British Rod Caught Fish Committee.

See also

Further reading

  • Where to Fish in Norfolk and Suffolk by John Wilson ISBN 0-7117-0183-0

External links


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