Underground Norwich Book | Eastern Daily Press

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Published:
8:00 a.m. April 10, 2022



In 2017 I presented a book launch that told the story of the ground beneath our feet in the ancient city of Norwich.

The title was Subterranean Norwich: The grain of the city – an ‘essential’ work by geologist and cycling historian Matthew William. Archaeologist Brian Ayers described it as a “wonderful book with thoughtful illustrations”.

Five years later, and with a publishing record of a number of local titles under the SCT Books banner, Matthew has come full circle and produced a much-needed second edition of Subterranean Norwich, after the first went out of print and listed. . printing.

The new version is dedicated to the memory of Susan Curran, owner of the highly respected Lasse Press, which published the original version of the book.

Sadly, Lasse Press has now ceased operations following Susan’s untimely passing in March 2020.

Matthew says: “Looking back, I owe so much to Susan, who not only set out to publish my book, but continued to give me advice, despite her illness, and to encourage me as I took my first hesitant steps. in the world of book publishing.

He was first introduced to Susan in 2016 following a chance conversation with Keith Razey, who runs a book warehouse at St Mary’s Coslany in the town.

By this point, Matthew had worked out his ideas for the book, but had no real idea how to execute them, having instead gotten bogged down trying to go down the self-publishing route.


The late Susan Curran who inspired and encouraged so many local authors.
– Credit: Steve Adams

“Although I now know that Susan was busy with many other things, she responded so kindly to this request from a novice writer, was happy to meet and then offered to take on my project,” said Matthew.

“Then followed months of back and forth as the book full of pictures was put together. When I think back to my ignorance of what was needed, I realize how patient she was with me,” he added.

The book was officially launched in the cellar under WH Smith in central Norwich, thanks to Susan’s usual flair for such things.

It even reached the East Anglian Book of the Year final, forcing Matthew to attend the awards ceremony in Carrow Road,

He admits seeing ‘real writers’ there made him feel like a fish out of water, but he realized the supportive environment we have in Norwich for all kinds of writing , especially in our excellent local bookstores.

Sales were good enough for a follow-up book to be considered, and Norwich Submerged, all about the city’s historic floods, was published two years later – by this time Matthew was also working with Ronnie Green and Dawn Castle-Green on a book about the Dodger cycling dynasty.

“Dodgers of Norwich wasn’t exactly a good fit for Lasse Press, but Susan was willing to put the book together for me and along the way offered all sorts of helpful advice on how to get it printed and registered. It was this generous advice that gave me the confidence to produce other local books on my own,” he said.

These include the hugely popular Norwich Over the Water showing what the area around Anglia Square was like, and Matthew’s 2020 book Norwich’s Netherflow. This book was published on the 150and anniversary of the city’s first sewer system and celebrated remarkable underground engineering that we still rely on.


The medieval basement extending below the forecourt of Assembly House, Norwich.

The medieval basement extending below the forecourt of Assembly House, Norwich.
– Credit: Matthew Williams

Late last year, when Matthew realized he needed to produce a second edition of Subterranean Norwich, he discovered that the original printer no longer had the necessary proofs. Luckily, Susan’s husband, Paul Simmonds, still had his laptop and kindly allowed her to download the necessary files for use in the new edition.

Susan Curran was deeply involved in other aspects of Norwich heritage and politics and I hope Paul will help me in a feature film to celebrate her life more fully later this year.

Why did Matthew start SCT Books?

His day job is a cycle instructor and he explains, “I first distributed the Dodger’s book from a page added to my Smart Cycle Training website, and called it SCT Books. Now the range covers non-cycling topics, it has a dedicated website, but the original name remains.

Matthew’s seven local titles to date are listed on his website sctbooks.co.ul where they can be purchased, or of course in local bookstores. Subterranean Norwich: City grain is in color and costs £18.

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