Monday, August 24, 2009

How we won the Ashes in Sutton Bridge

I left King's Lynn yesterday morning on the bus for Sutton Bridge. I got a shock when I arrived as the town's main hotel, which was apparently still thriving according to numerous websites, and found it was boarded up. I was later told that it had been like that for a year or so.

This turned out not to be a problem as I was able to find accommodation just down the road. The cricket was on in the bar and I was pleased to see that we had already got both Australian openers out.

I headed off to photograph the Crosskeys bridge. This structure, the third bridge on the site, was opened in 1897 and originally carried both road and rail traffic - the railway (the old Midland and Great Northern line, which took generations of holidaymakers to the Norfolk coast) on what is now the westbound carriageway and the road on the eastbound side. The railway closed in 1965 and the bridge is now road only, carrying the modern A17.

The bridge is interesting because it a swing bridge crowned with a control cabin and is still opened several times a week to allow large ships to make their way up the River Nene to Wisbech. It used to open more often, but a port has been developed below the bridge at Sutton Bridge which has taken much of Wisbech's trade.

According to Wikipedia the Crosskeys Bridge was used as a location in the film of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. I shall have to see it now.

Having examined the bridge I set off down the banks of the Nene for the Wash. I had read that about three miles downstream, at what was then the mouth of the river (more land has been reclaimed since then - indeed, you never do quite reach the sea when you try anywhere around the Wash), two ornamental lighthouses had been erected in 1831.

They never served as lighthouses but were used as customs posts. The lighthouse on the east bank was the home of Sir Peter Scott in the 1930s. When I reached them they turned out to resemble nothing so much as a pair of salt and pepper shakers.

The path carries on around the Wash - indeed the Peter Scott Walk will take you down the Great Ouse estuary too and back to the ferry at West Lynn.

I had made a pact with God that I would not look at the test score until I had reached the lighthouses. When I did, I found England had taken five Australian wickets and was reasonably pleased.

After I had walked back into Sutton Bridge I was less pleased to find that there were still only five wickets down. So I bought a beer and sat down to watch, whereupon the last five wickets fell in less than an hour.

Not a bad day, all told.


Stephen Bigger said...

Ah, Sutton Bridge is gorgeous, is it not? Geoff Capes the shot putter came from here. I once competed with him (not against him) in 1964. The Midland and Great Northern is double gorgeous, even though it skirts Sandringham and has carried a few odd characters. A quick trip to Melton Constable and you are at Cromer, looking at fishing boats by the pier and Lutchen's Overstand House. Ah, bliss. Stephen

Niles said...

You know that massive gas power station at Sutton Bridge - that nice Mr Maxfield took us on a tour there once.

Anyway, I am mainly commenting because on the first read through, I thought you said God had taken five wickets from the Australianites, and I thought "Steady on, old chap!" Then I read it properly.