Norwich on the River Wensum flourished under the Normans. The cathedral was begun in 1096 but was not finished until the 15th century. In the Middle Ages Norwich established itself as a major centre of the wool trade. Norwich continued to prosper and by 1831 was the eighth largest town in population in England and Wales.
In 1836 the Eastern Counties Railway gained permission from Parliament to build a railway between London and Norwich. Progress was slow and the Yarmouth to Norwich via Cambridge was opened first in 1845. Four years later the London to Norwich line was completed but inter-company disputes prevented the running of through trains until 1854.
The county of Norfolk has the most people in the least tract of land of any county in England, except London, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Norwich is the capital of Norfolk. It is ancient, large, rich and populous city. The inhabitants being all busy at their manufactures, dwell in their garrets at their looms, and in their combing shops, twisting mills, and other work houses. There are 120,000 people employed in the silk and wool manufactures. There are in this city thirty-two parishes besides the cathedral, and a great many meeting-houses of Dissenters.