Making a move to . . . Thetford
PUBLISHED: 06:15 08 September 2014
©Archant Photographic 2011
Not many Norfolk towns can claim their own song – remember The Singing Postman’s Miss From Diss? – but the proud folk of Thetford can now sing the praises of their home town. The Thetford Song – a tribute by the town’s Magpye band – had its debut last month, and it tells of a town of rich history, fascinating characters and memorable landmarks.
Indeed, Thetford people are right to be proud of their community, which has developed so much over the past half-century and which has big plans for expansion in the years ahead. Thetford is the county’s fourth biggest settlement, with a population of 21,500.
Once a major centre for the Iceni tribe in East Anglia under their queen Boudicca, evidence of the Iron Age settlement can be seen at Castle Hill and Gallows Hill. Thetford’s castle motte and priory remains date from the medieval days of Roger Bigod, who settled there after coming to England with William the Conqueror. To learn more about the interesting history of this town, take a look at the website www.thetfordgreat.org which covers the story of this community through 13 eras. During all of these times, Thetford has been home to influential and inspirational men and women – such as the revolutionary thinker and writer Thomas Paine and the last Maharajah of the Punjab and first Sikh to settle in this country, Duleep Singh who lived at nearby Elveden Hall.
With such a varied history, it is no surprise that the town has three museums telling various aspects of its story - Ancient House, Charles Burrell and The Dad’s Army museums, the latter to mark the town’s connections with the much-loved TV series filmed here.
But it was in the years following the Second World War that Thetford saw its biggest development in recent times, transforming the historic market town into a busy, thriving, modern town. Under the Town Expansion Scheme, the population of Thetford quadrupled as thousands of Londoners moved to the new estates built to ease the capital’s post-war housing crisis. Some 9000 new jobs were created as manufacturers and businesses set up their factories and bases here.
Today the town is looking to its future again, with plans for a major, multi-million pound development of thousands of new homes and new jobs in the next 25 years through the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension which it is hoped will see it established as a dynamic economic and business centre for the eastern region. Within this scheme are plans for new schools to add to the range that presently includes the 900-year-old Thetford Grammar, and Thetford Academy which is undergoing a multi-million pound investment in facilities.
With the long-awaited dualling of the A11 due to be completed this autumn, Thetford is ideally placed to offer a great future for those considering making this Breckland town their home.
As the Thetford Song declares: Thetfordians are made, you’ll find
Of Burrell steam, of flint and pine,
Of rugged ruins, clustered thyme,
Of Breckland wild . . . but a Welcome Kind.
To listen to The Thetford Song, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8O2AMNCGtM