back as far as the 13th or 14th centuries, Norwich's chalk mines
were dug to exploit the rich deposits of chalk and flint that run
from north west to south east across the county.
raw mineral was cooked in kilns, fired by charcoal, then coal and
new chalk and fuel was added to the top of the kiln in layers. The
end result - lime, was removed from the bottom.
lime was mixed with animal hair as a binding agent to form mortar
for construction. It
was also used on farmland, to improve the texture of the soil.
Lime dug in Norwich was sold in London with wherries carrying the
mineral down the River Yare to Great Yarmouth.
Norwich also has an underground reservoir - in
Lakenham, between Hall Road and City Road. The reservoir was built
by hand in 1871.
It normally holds a million gallons of water but
every five years it has to be emptied and cleaned - and when it
is empty you can see just what an amazing structure it is.
It is still in very good condition and the engineers
say it should last another 130 years without too much difficulty.
Hidden away in the heart of the Norfolk Broads
is a military base whose role used to be so secret, for many years
it didn't feature on any map.
People working in the bunker
Today the Ministry of Defence is more open about
the work done by the 500 staff at RAF Neatishead. In this underground
bunker they work around the clock monitoring Britain's airspace.
The station was set up to track enemy aircraft
during the Second World War. Later in the Cold War it monitored
Russian planes as they tested Britain's defences - if they came
too close, fighter aircraft would be scrambled from nearby RAF Coltishall
to chase them off.
You can learn more about the bunker at the Radar
Museum near Horning.
It was Neolithic miners who first dug flint out
from the chalk at Grimes Graves, near Thetford, some 4000 years
Named after the Devil's holes of the pagan god
Grim, the miners used the flint to make all kinds of blades, from
scrapers to axes and spear-heads.
Visitors can descend 10 metres (30 feet) by ladder
into one of the 300 excavated shafts.
Flint was also used with stone to create buildings.
In the 14th century, it began to be used decoratively in architecture.
The Guildhall in Norwich is an example of how flint was used for
By Sheila McKeown, a librarian at the Millennium Library in
Deep Down Underground, by Robert Crowther.
Walker Books 1998. ISBN 0744549450.
What are Caves? by Claire Llewellyn. Heinemann
2001, ISBN 0431024405.
You can get hold of these
books through your local library.
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