The Olympic Torch brings London 2012 to Norwich

With less than a month to go until London 2012, the Olympic Torch Replay passes through Norfolk next week, SIMON PARKIN looks at where to welcome it and have a flaming great time.

Very few of us will ever get to compete in the Olympics, some of us may have got tickets to see competition at London 2012 — but for most of us the catch to celebrate the Olympic Flame as it passes through Norfolk will be as close we get.

Norwich is planning two-full days of celebration to welcome the Olympic Torch as it arrives through the streets of Norwich on July 4 and heads off again on July 5.

The Torch, carried by hundreds of local people, will be welcomed by everything from magical mechanical boats to local bands and performers — with huge crowds expected to line the route.

It's arrival in Norfolk begins when it leaves King's Lynn at 12.03pm on July 4, passing through the Sandringham Estate, Fakenham and along the North Norfolk coastline, including Holt and Cromer, before heading through Alsyham on its way towards Norwich.

The route will see the Olympic Torch enter Norwich from Cromer Road near to the junction with Waldemar Avenue where it will then head towards the city centre.

A magical mechanical boat, created by Tin House and The Puppet Theatre, will greet the Olympic Torch at the boundary of Norwich and welcome it to the city.

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The concept for the boat has developed from the close connection of Norwich and Norfolk with water. It draws upon the different boats that populate our waterways and coastline; the lives lived on and around them, creating a mechanical and theatrical treat that will tour the city centre.

Trees which line the route into and out of Norwich will have their trunks and branches wrapped in colourful fabrics, creating a spectacular art installation.

Dynamic youth arts organisation, Cultureworks East, has worked with visual artists Maggie Campbell, Matt Reeve and writers from Writers Centre Norwich including Luke Wright and Molly Naylor with local schools and community groups to create eye-catching designs featuring patterns, words and prints that reflect not only the Olympics but their international nature.

The trees will be wrapped ahead of time for the arrival of the Olympic Torch Relay, creating a spectacular art installation along the route.

From foster carers to teachers to budding athletes, the list of local heroes taking party and getting their moment in the spotlight as they carry the Olympic Torch for a few yards is full of those who have triumphed in the face of adversity and have made a difference to their local communities.

Among those nomainted for the honour in Norwich is multiple fencing medal winner 84-year-old Connie Adam and 18-year-old Catton Grove community volunteer Daniel Browne, who will each carry the Torch for a 300m stretch of the Norwich route.

Connie, who only started fencing when she retired at 60 and got hooked on the Olympic sort, said: 'I'm absolutely over the moon to be nominated as a Torchbearer. At my age you don't expect anything like that.

'I keep busy and do a lot of walking and play badminton as well as the fencing so I'll be ready for the challenge. It will certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.'

Daniel, who was born with a bi-lateral cleft and has undergone 20 operations to restore his ability to speak and to improve his hearing, said: 'This is certainly not something that happens every day. It feels like an honour to have even been nominated let alone chosen.

I'll be proud to represent Catton Grove and Norwich. I enjoy sport, particularly football, and I'm looking forward to the Olympic Games.'

The Torch will arrive on Aylsham Road at shortly before 6pm, passing Waterloo Road at 6.22pm before heading into the city centre arriving at Millennium Plain at 6.38pm and on to Chapelfield Gardens where it will launch a special Olympic Torch Stage Show (see panel).

The next morning as it begins it outward journey, the Olympic Torch will then be lit on the battlements of Norwich Castle at 6.45am as the five Olympic colours are trailed down the walls by abseilers.

It will then be welcomed by the sound of the bells ringing, a torchbearer will run through Norwich Cathedral grounds to River Wensum.

The Flame will be rowed across the river at Pulls Ferry in a decorated old-style skiff, escorted by Norwich clubs with blades held aloft.

The river crossing will be accompanied by the Norwich Philharmonic Chorus singing to welcome the Torch as it arrives at Pulls Ferry, and to bid it farewell as it continues its journey.

A small flotilla of canoes and boats will follow the Flame to Bishop Bridge as it travels along Riverside Road, leaving Norwich via Ketts Hill and St Williams Way on its journey.

And from there the procession will head towards Acle and on through Filby to Great Yarmouth.

Celebrations begin in Acle from 7am with a concert of song and dance performed by schoolchildren from Acle, Lingwood, Freethorpe, Cantley, Reedham and Fairhaven on Folly Tree Green.

The flame is expected to arrive at around 8.05am and three torchbearers will carry it from Norwich Road, along The Street and finish on New Road before the torch is driven to Filby.

The route will then pick up near Filby Bridge at around 8.20am, and three torchbearers will exchange the flame along Main Road as far as Poplar Drive.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) will then drive the flame to Yarmouth just after 8.30am.

The relay will start again close to Yarmouth Greyhound Stadium at around 8.55am when 11 torchbearers will take it in turns to carry the torch and flame along Caister Road, Lawn Avenue, North Quay and onto Fullers Hill.

Crowds are expected to gather as the torchbearer brings the flame through the Market Place at around 9.25am.

The route then sees the torch carried down Regent Street, along Hall Quay and across Haven Bridge, down Bridge Road and Pasteur Road. The torchbearing will end close to Homebase at around 9.40am.

The flame will then be driven to Lowestoft.

People wishing to watch the Olympic flame are advised to arrive at their chosen place half an hour earlier than the scheduled torch time.

Marie Harltey, Great Yarmouth borough council's culture, sport and leisure manager, said: 'Whether along Main Road in Filby, or along the 45-minute route through Great Yarmouth, we hope to see as many residents as possible lining the route and cheering on those taking part. While it's a working day, I really hope businesses and their staff embrace this opportunity and line the roadside.'

Follow the Olympic Torch progress at:

It's progress through Norfolk can be followed at:



5.57pm Aylsham Road

6.22pm Waterloo Road

6.23pm Magpie Road

6.24pm Edward Street

6.26pm Pitt Street

6.28pm Duke Street

6.33pm Andrews Street

6.34pm Exchange Street

6.36pm Gaol Hill

6.37pm St Peters Street

6.38pm Millennium Plain

6.38pm Theatre Street

6.48pm Chapelfield Gardens


6.45am Norwich Castle

6.58am Castle Meadow

7am Agricultural Hall Plain

7.01am Upper King Street

7.03am Queen Street

7.05am Ferry Lane

7.08am Pulls Ferry

7.19am Riverside Road

7.22am Bishop Bridge

7.23am Ketts Hill

7.27am Plumstead Road

7.36am St Williams Way