In the summer of 1969 the family and some relations from Kent were on a camping holiday at Felixstowe and in amongst all the camping gear an inflatable canoe came to light. Without more ado it was inflated and launched complete with “broom handled” paddles but without a buoyancy aid of any kind. During those two weeks much fun was had by all.

Shortly after arriving home I acquired an old PBK canvas canoe and after renovation, including fitting a solid brass keel strip and sawn down tubular kitchen chairs as seating, it was launched onto the Wensum at the waterfalls.

Very soon colleagues at the Metamec clock factory decided to join in and soon there were 5 of us paddling Brian Barber (later our first chairman), Peter Trett, David Holmes, Ivan Brunton and myself.

After consultation with the Carrick family we were given the OK to use the part of the River Wensum that ran through their farm, nearly 2 miles, and this became and still is our home waters. It must be noted that without the wholehearted support and backing from Mrs Carrick and John we would not have survived as we have.

By 1972 more people had joined us and it was decided to form a canoing group (the word group was chosen as it seemed less formal than Club) and the first meeting was held in Avenue House, now buried under the Dereham bypass between the two flyovers.

As time passed and membership increased, estimated to be well over 100 members at its peak including paddlers and families, we were able to vary our activities.

At this point I think it best if I just list some of the things we got up to otherwise this will turn into book form:-

Regular trips along the Wensum from Fakenham to Ringland
LD races from Bintree mill to Swanton Morley

Norfolk Championship Slalom annually at the waterfall
“Canoe Cross” at Castle Farm

Weekend Camping and Triple Event at Castle Farm ( Saturday pm still water slalom followed by 200 yard sprint, Sunday am..5 mile LD race with all events in the same canoe)

Annual Saturday night Barn Dance and Barbecue at Castle or Park Farm to raise funds (usually 175 guests)

Mad Raft Race using anything that floats Cardboard Canoe Race and other fun afternoons

Spooky Doo paddle in the dark

Monthly sessions at the Dereham Swimming Pool (we were the first group)

Further afield:-

New Years surfing at East Runton which still continues

Down river racing in Yorkshire and white water paddling for those that could travel

Easter week surfing at Bude in Cornwall

Up to 15 caravans at East Runton for Whit. Week holiday

Sea Canoeing from Northumberland to Dorset and between

Charitable activities:-

Sponsored swim in aid of British Heart Foundation

Raised funds for annual Toftwood Carnival children’s party

Sponsored paddle in conjunction with staff and pupils from Toftwood school to raise funds for swimming pool (£400)

There is much more that could be told but space is limited. To conclude, there are scrap books with photographs and press cuttings if anyone wants to browse.


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