A Furry Menace
Between the wars, fur was fashionable. Myocaster coypus is a large South American rodent (up to a metre long from nose to tail and weighing about 20 lb / 9kg) with small eyes, large orange front teeth, whiskers, a long tail and webbed teeth. Its outer coat of long, coarse reddish- or yellow-brown hair is unattractive, but it hides a velvety slate-grey under-fur known as nutria (Spanish for 'otter'). This is soft and very attractive to the fur trade: pelts from 22 animals made 1 fur coat.
The coypu was first introduced to Britain in 1929, and fur farms were set up in Norfolk and elsewhere. Philip Tindal-Carill-Worsley (1881-1946) was living at East Carleton Manor and saw an opportunity to make a profit from some very wet land along the stream that formed the border with Mulbarton parish - the stream that originates behind what is now Catmere Herne; borders 'The Meadows'; passes under the B1113 at Mulbarton Bridge and flows through the lake of The Grove (Cheshire DisAbility); now goes under Catbridge Lane (see photo); crosses Intwood ford and continues on to join the River Yare near Keswick Mill. The river and an adjacent area north of Catbridge Lane was fenced off and pens built for the animals. Gamekeeper Charles Edgar George Schofield was put in charge - and by 1938 there were 300 animals. The coypu pelts, or nutria fur, were sorted at East Carleton and sent off to the London market.