We have been working near Great Yarmouth for the past 6 months as the main contractor, helping to improve facilities for visitors to Burgh Castle, the Roman fort which looks out over the River Yare and Berney Marshes.
The Romans took a lot of trouble when they chose the position for their fort but, unsurprisingly, it was not sited there because of the view. In those days it looked out over a much larger area of water, and their soldiers were stationed there to repel Saxon invaders coming upriver.
Today it is a more peaceful scene, and very popular with visitors. But until recently there was limited space for parking and some of the footpaths were in poor condition, making it particularly difficult for wheelchair users.
Giles Landscapes was called in to build a car park, carry out landscaping, upgrade the network of paths (making sure that the gates and the surfaces were suitable for wheelchairs users) and create a viewing platform overlooking the river and the marshes.
That view brought back happy memories for Giles Landscapes’ managing director, Roger Giles. From there you can look across the river to an RSPB reserve and Berney Arms, which consists of the Berney Arms pub, a railway station, a wind pump and a farm. The only way to get there is on foot, by boat or by train, Berney Arms station being a request stop on one of the Norwich-Great Yarmouth lines.
The pub serves Woodforde’s real ales, brewed not far away in Woodbastwick, and is a bit of a local treasure and a favourite with boaters and ramblers.
The combined mill and wind pump has seven floors and, at 21 metres high, is the tallest one in Norfolk. It was built around 1870 by the millwright firm of Stolworthy. It underwent a lengthy restoration, starting in 1999 when the sails (which used to be seen turning everyday) were removed, along with the cap and fantail. The cap was replaced in 2003, the fantail in 2006 and finally the sails in 2007.
In 2009 English Heritage, in partnership with a local boat touring company, re-opened the mill to the public, on a limited basis to start with, and now it is open for a few hours every day, with regular boat trips bringing tourists from Great Yarmouth.
Giles Landscapes’ links with the area go right back to the 1970s. To begin with, before his business grew to the size it is today, Roger Giles did landscaping in winter and spring, and sheep-shearing on the marshes near Berney Arms in May and June, living in a caravan conveniently close to the pub. It is well known that sheep-shearing causes dehydration but luckily the pub had copious amounts of beer to help him and his fellow shearers restore their fluid balance, ready for work the next morning.
View of the Windmill from Burgh Castle.