|At only five miles in length, the Thurne is
Norfolk's shortest river. It starts at the village of
West Somerton and then makes its way through the middle
of Martham Broad.
River Thurne at Potter
The Thurne was once one of Norfolk's
finest pike fishing rivers and in 1960 a 35lbs specimen
was taken by Mr R. Pownall. In Arthur Ransome's
children's adventure The Big Six (1940) - the 'Death and
Glories' (Pete, Bill and Joe) land a 30˝
lbs pike which
is later stuffed and displayed at 'The Roaring Donkey'
pub. They are fishing what Ransome calls Kendal Dyke -
but is normally known as Candle Dyke which connects the Thurne to Heigham Sound.
Here is the exciting description of their attempt to
land the fish:
|'For the first
time, they could see how big the pike was. A huge fish,
mottled light green and olive, rose slowly to the top of
the water. He had shaken free of the reeds, which were
drifting away. He opened a wide, white mouth, shook a
head as big as a man's and plunged again to the bottom
of the river, making the reel whizz.'
Further downstream the river reaches
Potter Heigham - with
its ancient stone bridge. This is another important
Arthur Ransome location - for in Coot Club the
children accidently moor here next to the Margoletta
in the dark. This is ironic because the Hullabaloos have
been chasing them since Horning
- where Tom cast-off their motor cruiser in order to
save a coot's nest. The Hullabaloos are a group of
noisy, thoughtless tourists who are intent on getting
their revenge on the children, but finally come to grief
on Breydon Water when
their boat hits a post.
Potter Heigham was also home
to the Norfolk dialect comedian Sidney Grapes who ran a
garage in the village. His collection of Boy John
Letters which were published in the Eastern Daily
Press just after the Second World War paint a
delightfully humorous portrait of Norfolk village life
and were all written using the Norfolk dialect. In fact,
Grapes' garage actually stood on the banks of the Thurne.
Grapes' Garage c. 1924
Downstream of Potter Heigham lie the villages of
Thurne and Oby. In 1979, the poet
George MacBeth moved into the old rectory in Oby with
his wife the novelist Lisa St Aubin de Terán. The
rectory was a restoration project and inspired a number
of the poems in his 1982 collection Poems from Oby.
Field, Tomorrow - a poem about
purchasing some land close to the rectory - there is a
lovely description of yachts on the river.
I wanted the bare field out there to be mine.
Each day, at my typing, I saw the smooth line
sycamores, breaking the sweep of the grass
To the farm and the river. I saw the sails pass
Far away, white and simple, where yachts moved at
And I looked down, in pride, at my nearest stone urn.
From that urn to the sycamores, this was my land,
With the wide breadth of Norfolk, stretched gold on each
And finally, there is a nice passage in Coot Club
where the children are heading back towards the
River Bure at Thurne
'They slipped away from Pug Street and left the last of
the Potter Heigham bungalows, and reached past the
Womack Entry, and beat down to Thurne Mouth, and ran
before the wind when they turned by the signpost into
the Bure, without a hand on the tiller other than the
beautifully horny ones, while the Coots stood by, giving
a word of advice sometimes, and easing out or hauling in
the mainsheet. Nothing went wrong, except that just once
a pair of reed buntings very nearly made Dick steer in
Coots forever and ever!