Probably best known for its sugar beet factory is the village of Cantley lying on the north bank of the River Yare. Dutch interests built the factory in 1912 satisfied that Norfolk farmers could produce sugar beet in sufficient quantities for shipment to factories in Holland. It was closed down in 1916 after operating at a loss. Subsequently the factory was acquired by the English Beet Sugar Corporation and re-opened in 1920.
Despite its uncertain beginnings, the Cantley factory kick-started the British sugar industry we know today. Sugar beet is still processed to this day in Cantley and the plant remains one of the largest of its kind in the country.
There are moorings at The Reedcutter Public house and about 1 1/2 miles along the road at the side of the sugar factory you will find The Cock Tavern.
The church of St. Margaret is set at the northern side of the village. The first church to be built where St Margaret's now stands was constructed of wood in Saxon times. The Normans rebuilt it in stone, and traces of their work can be seen in the present building. The majority of the church that survives to this day was built in the perpendicular period between 1066 and 1539.
After losing many of its treasures and falling into disrepair in the late 18th century, the church was saved by the Gilbert family who had taken up the lordship of the manor.
In 1854 St Margarets was restored, the old pews replaced, a new pulpit and reading desk were installed, the nave reroofed in 1876 and the chancel rebuilt four years later.
The bronze bell that hangs in the western tower inscribed J.B. 1639 remained unused for centuries until the housing was recently refurbished.
Legend has it that a headless horseman rides through Cantley at midnight. and a pot of gold lying at the bottom of a dark pool guarded by an evil presence.
The Sugar Factory photo courtesy of NorfolkNog