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Loddon is a small market town and electoral ward about 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Norwich on the River Chet, a tributary of the River Yare within The Broads in Norfolk, England. The name “Loddon” is thought to mean muddy river in Celtic in reference to the Chet.
The earliest written mention of Loddon (Lodne) is in the will of Ælfric Modercope written in 1042 or 1043. In the will Ælfric split his land holdings in Loddon, Bergh Apton and Barton between the Bishops of Bury, Ely and St Benet of Holme. Ælfric held 450 acres (1.8 km2) of land in Loddon and was by far the biggest landowner. His manor house is believed to have been close by the church overlooking the river and the fields are known as Manor Yards.
At about midnight on 27 August 1912 a portion of the roadway was washed away and soon afterwards part of the bridge caved in. The footbridge across the river between the two industrial sites disappeared downstream. The mill was in great jeopardy and forty men worked hard to preserve as much of the road as possible. The piling and the banks of the Chet were washed away and some of the wherries broke their moorings.
On 12 September 1968 a great storm followed a very wet summer, so when the heavy rain came that night the ground was too waterlogged to let the rain drain away. According to the Eastern Daily Press it had been Norfolk’s wettest ever September day. The torrential rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning and many roads were inches deep in water.
Run by South Norfolk Council and the Broads Authority with local representation carried out by the Loddon Parish Council. The current local councillors are Lady Kate Hartland, Mr. Barry Stone and Mr. Colin Gould. The current members of the parish council are: John Bussens, Paul Clemence, Sarah Coleman, John Coupe, Sophie Garrett, Gary Knights, Ray Lumley, Michael Roe, June Strickland, Margaret Wallace. g.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Parish-Councillors-2017.pdf
Loddon has many fine buildings; from the 15th-century parish church of Holy Trinity, through the 18th-century “Loddon House” (originally a mental institution), to “Farthing Green House”, which is a good example of Georgian architecture.
The town centre of Loddon, a designated conservation area, is dominated by the Holy Trinity Church dates from 1490 by Sir James Hobart who lived at Hales Hall, and was Attorney General to King Henry VII. The outside of the building is faced with flintwork and the interior contains a hammerbeam roof, Jacobean pulpit, early Edwardian pews with carved poppy-head ends, several table-top tombs, an ancient poor-box and a panel on the painted rood screen which shows William of Norwich, a boy martyr who is reputed to have been crucified in the 12th century. There is also a medieval baptismal font set high on three steps, however despite its shaft and bowl were originally carved and painted, they were defaced during periods of iconoclasm.
There was a mill mentioned at Loddon in the Domesday Book and a watermill at Chedgrave in the early 1330s, but there is no evidence for the sites of these mills. The present mill, Loddon watermill near the town centre which is no longer functioning, was built in the 18th century with the river diverted to run underneath it. Loddon watermill was sometimes known as Chedgrave mill and is one of the earliest recorded buildings in the town. It was built of weatherboard with a pantiled roof and was situated quite close to the centre of the town. The mill pool was never very big, but was apparently a widened and deepened Y shaped section of river up stream of the mill. This produced adequate power for the miller to meet the needs of the local farmers and villagers. The mill still retains 19th-century milling equipment.
When the mill was built it was found that the best position for it involved diverting the river Chet to the south of its natural course. This involved considerable effort and expense and in times of severe flood the river attempts to revert to its original channel.
Old Town Hall
According to the indenture dated 25 January 1870 James Cole Copeman conveyed to The Loddon Town Hall Company (Limited), for the sum for £30, the site on which to build the Town Hall. The actual building of the Town Hall must have been started before the conveyance was drawn up because the Petty Sessions were held in the Town Hall for the first time on Wednesday 10 August 1870.
The red brick building was very ornate, as was the style of many Victorian architects. The oldest photograph available shows much fancy brickwork and ornamentation. A great deal of this has succumbed to time and either fallen or been removed for safety. However, the ‘Elizabethan style’ windows are virtually intact. The building is on the buildings at risk register.
There are many shops and services in central Loddon. These include; two tearooms, a Co-op food store, two newsagents, butcher, various take-aways such as a fish and chip shop and a Chinese take-away, plus an award-winning Bangladeshi restaurant.
There is also a movie rental store, a beauty salon, estate agency, Boots the Chemist, Doctor and Dental surgeries, a garden shop, a veterinarian, a bank, a post office, a dentist, a library, a charity shop, an optician and a hardware store. There are three public houses in central Loddon: The Angel, The Swan and The King’s Head. The Swan has recently received a second AA rosette. Loddon Water mill is now a complementary health practice.
Loddon is home to three popular schools; Loddon Infant and Nursery, Loddon Junior and Hobart High School, one of the few schools in the country to have a ‘classroom of the future‘. This futuristic classroom lasted approximately 2 months before all the tablets had to be replaced, much to the pupils’ dismay. There is also Loddon nursery school education. An independent school Langley School, lies just to the North of Loddon at Langley Park.
The first records about schooling in Loddon mention the school in what is now called he Priest’s room in the Holy Trinity Church in 1781. The 19th century saw considerable changes, including a rise in the population and consequently in the number of children. It also saw a rise in the popularity of nonconformist religions and a certain amount of competition in the provision of education for the young.
As well as the established schools there were several private schools in the village at one time or another. The 1851/61/71 census figures show a private school on the east side of Bridge Street.
By 1856 it was decided to build a new school in Loddon for 180 pupils on the site of the old guildhall on Church Plain. Two-thirds of the cost was to come from the Town Estates, which was revenue derived from the renting of Town Farm and other town lands. The rest came from public subscription and an appeal was set up to raise money from the community. The eventual result was a flint faced Gothic Revival building which is still used today as the Loddon Branch Library.
The school term started in 1858 (although the building does not appear to have been finished until 1859), when 99 children from 3–13 years old were entered. Many would not stay at school long, nor attend regularly as the need to supplement the family income when possible could not be ignored. Many children had a long walk to school, which could be impossible in bad weather. This building was used as a school until 1969.
Previous industries included egg packing and corn grinding. Loddon also had a gas and brick works.
Nowadays the north of the town has many boatyards situated on the River Chet. These provide yachtsmen and hire boat crews during the season and together with the boat-building and letting yards, make an important contribution to the economy of the town.
Loddon also has a small industrial area situated at the south of the town. Engineering and other industries sited on this industrial estate provide employment for local people. However, Express Plastics, one of the major employers has recently moved to Beccles. The site is to become a small housing estate. A famous East Anglian company Anglian Bus started in Loddon in 1986 before expansion resulted in moving to Beccles.
The Loddon and District Business Association, which was formed in 2011, represents all businesses in the area both micro and multi million pound industry. They work together to enhance the community life and ensure that growth increases and the facilities needed in a community of this size are met.