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  • Writer's pictureGranny Bonnet

Potter Heigham Bridge and its Ghosts!

Reefed yacht image - Andrew Woods

Situated in the parish of Repps with Bastwick and within the Broads National Park of Norfolk, sits the medieval bridge of Potter Heigham believed to date from 1385.

The brick and stone, narrow three-arched bridge is traffic-controlled allowing only single vehicles to pass and I presume the traffic lights were installed after a lorry plunged off the bridge and into the River Thurne below in the 1960's. Fortunately, it seems the waters were low at the time and the driver was rescued.

​From a boats-man point of view, this is arguably the trickiest bridge to navigate on the Norfolk Broads. When waters are high, clearance under the main arch of the bridge is only 6' 6" (1.98 mtrs) and hire-boat users unfamiliar with the wicked wiles of tidal ebb and flow are required to pay £10 each way to a River Pilot from Phoenix Boatyard to guide them through the semi-circular, steep-sided arch, the only one of the three spans that is navigable to river traffic.

The general rise in water levels of the past few years has seen a decrease in the number of boats able to pass under the bridge dropping from around 10,000 craft to less than 2,000 per annum which I guess must bode well for wild-life conservation areas in the calmer and less well-used reaches above the bridge. I imagine too that rising climate temperatures will also see an end to sightings of a ghostly drummer boy from Potter Heigham who skates across the frozen waters to a place called Swim Coots on Hickling Broad each February as he once did in 1815 to secretly meet his lover before the melting ice gave way and he drowned.

Perhaps though if you're really keen to see a ghost and were to stand beside Potter Heigham bridge at midnight on the last day of May, you may just catch sight of, if not hear the pounding of horses hooves and the rhythmic turning of wheels as Lady Carew and her daughter Evelyn are borne away from her daughter's wedding celebrations to wealthy Sir Godfrey Haslitt of Bastwick. The skeleton that snatched her, drives a phantom coach and four but as they thunder across Potter Heigham bridge, they are engulfed in flames and plunge over the side and into history. Payback for a wicked witch and the love-potion she had earlier prepared that ensnared Sir Godfrey for Evelyn.

Yes, a very interesting Scheduled Monument is Potter Heigham Bridge!

Lorry rescue, Potter Heigham Bridge1962 - Photo Eastern Daily Press

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