From Kett to Mr Kite: City's historic secrets revealed in walking tours

Paul Dickson uncovers historic city secrets in his walking tours

Paul Dickson uncovers historic city secrets in his walking tours - Credit: Archant/Paul Dickson

Journeys of crooks and crusaders alike are being retrod by city folk thousands of years later courtesy of bespoke walking adventures. 

Paul Dickson is a tour guide who is seeking to bring the past back to life with his walks along historic Norwich routes. 

The guide has spent eight years building up his programme of walks by exploring forgotten corners of the city. 

He said: "I have about 14 walks in total so that I can cater to everyone - I try to have a real mixture of not only historic periods of time but also the types of walks themselves. 

Paul on his Shardlake tour based on the author's book Tombland

Paul on his Shardlake tour based on the author's book Tombland - Credit: Paul Dickson

"My personal favourite has to be the Shardlake tour - based on the novel Tombland.

"It follows the actions of Robert Kett and his attack.

"The route takes you over various landmarks like Bishop Bridge before ending up at Kett's Heights, where the remains of St. Michael's Chapel are."

One of Paul's black history tours

One of Paul's black history tours - Credit: Paul Dickson

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Another famous tour is from Paul's black history walk, which stories the first circus proprietor of colour born in Norwich, Pablo Fanque.

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Picture: Archant library

William Darby, better known as Pablo Fanque. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

The name may be familiar to any Beatles fans as Pablo Fanque was the inspiration behind their smash hit song 'Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite'.

People are also treated to some of the city's exquisite architecture from days gone by.

There is a plaque commemorating Pablo Fanque on the side of John Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There is a plaque commemorating Pablo Fanque on the side of John Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Intrepid walkers will see well known works from the likes of George Skipper who created the Marble Hall, Royal Arcade and Jarrold.

And Paul, a former marketing and communications manager, has no plans in hanging up his walking boots anytime soon.

He said: "The plan is be full on until I'm 70 as it's a really healthy thing to be outside and walking.

"I'm always learning more and I love it - it keeps the little grey cells moving.

Norwich's Royal Arcade, designed by George Skipper (photo: john_fielding, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Norwich's Royal Arcade, designed by George Skipper (photo: john_fielding, Flickr, CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

"I want to continue to enthuse people with the history of Norwich and pass as much knowledge as I can on."

Paul's next public tour is on January 15 and it appears the public are ready to brave the cold.

He said: "We have 15 people attending - they all seem happy to be in larger groups outdoors again."

An autumnal Elm Hill in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

An autumnal Elm Hill in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Stepping out in lockdown

Despite Covid taking its toll on many businesses Paul's tours were able to keep marching on.

Paul explained: "During lockdown we obviously weren't able to do any tours, however I was able to partner up with a company called Heygo and offered virtual tours.

"I promoted it through social media and had over 100 people sign up to it.

"It involved my mobile phone with the Heygo app and stabiliser to make sure the picture was steady as can be."

The two-hour long virtual tours were a good stop-gap for those wanting to still experience the sights of the city, according to Paul.

He said: "It was a really good thing to do during lockdown and helped get us through the autumn period until we could start socially distant events outside again - it's definitely something I'd like to do again."

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