There’s more to this town than the Mere
DISS COULD be pretty much the only place in the world you can walk on water.
A new floating boardwalk, which combines a pontoon with a path around part of its famous Mere, is already a huge success and quite possibly unique.
The boardwalk loops out on to the lovely lake at the heart of Diss and because it is floating, gives people the sensation of actually stepping out on to the water.
“I don’t know of any other floating boardwalk,” said Sheila King, project manager of the £3.4m Heritage Triangle project which is linking the historic streets clustered around the church and Corn Hall in the town centre with the lake itself and surrounding parkland.
People can now walk around part of the six-acre Mere on the unique wooden pontoon, looping out into the lake from decking.
“It was an incredibly difficult project. We couldn’t build it on piles because of the layers of silt at the bottom of the Mere,” explained Sheila.
The Heritage Triangle regeneration has already included the restoration of the 1850s Corn Hall, which has been transformed into a regional arts and heritage centre, and redesigned central streets to allow people to enjoy walking through the area. There are also new information boards, telling some of the stories of the town’s past, and newly landscaped and planted gardens.
“The inspiration for the floating boardwalk was that the Mere is such a central feature of Diss but you can’t walk around it. The idea was to create something of interest, and a path to bring people into the old part of town,” said Sheila. “It’s relatively short but to be able to walk out on to the water just has a wonderful feel to it.
It runs from King’s Head Yard and Mere Street and will continue further when a planned new Wetherspoons is built.
Up in the heart of the old town, the beautiful buildings host around 60 independent traders.
There is also a complex of artists, designers and craftspeople and makers at designersmakers21. The hub hosts people running small creative businesses, producing textiles, paintings, prints, sculptures, mosaics, jewellery, stained glass and more is based in a warren of Victorian rooms and includes galleries, workshops and studios. It is open to the public 10am-5pm, Thursday to Saturday.
“Diss has got these lovely historic buildings where people have lived and worked for more than 500 years, but it’s not just cutesy chocolate box, it’s also got a real spirit to it,” said Sheila. The Heritage Triangle project was led by a partnership between The Diss Corn Hall Trust, Diss Town Council and Diss Museum.
“To be able to walk out on to the water just has a wonderful feel to it”
Above: Diss Town sign
Left: The new boardwalk across Diss Mere
Top left: An icy Diss Mere in February 1969
Top: Diss Mere and Diss Church
Diss Mere scene dated 1953