From the Archive

Post date: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 18:45

The cover photo of the Reepham Life 2019 Calendar shows the Leamon family outside Whitwell Hall in 1884.

In 1871 the farm and tannery business was being run by Robert Leamon, an ardent politician and prominent agriculturist. The farm covered 1,300 acres, employing 38 farm workers with 18 boys and five women, and the tannery business employed a further 20 men.

Robert committed suicide in 1878 and it was left to his sons Philip and Arthur to continue the business. (The eldest son, also a Robert, had become a clergyman.)

By 1881 Philip had married Elizabeth Reed and was living a typical gentleman farmer’s life at Whitwell Hall, hunting with the North Norfolk Harriers, giving harvest suppers for his workers, being a churchwarden, playing cricket and entertaining the local choir.

But by 1884 he was on the verge of bankruptcy and the sale was announced of the Whitwell Hall estate and tannery.

In 1887 all the livestock on the Whitwell estate was put up for auction as well as the household contents. In 1888 Philip applied for discharge from bankruptcy, but he had continued to contract debts knowing that he could not repay them.

In 1891 there were six children and Elizabeth was teaching them on her own at home at an address in Norwich. Eventually, she was admitted to hospital suffering from melancholia.

In 1894, supported by Samuel Bircham and other local dignitaries, an appeal was made for financial help for the grandchildren of Robert Leamon, reminding people how generous Robert had been towards the local poor.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Buy the Reepham Life 2019 Calendar HERE

Above: Whitwell Hall today.

Post date: Monday, November 12, 2018 - 18:52

The happy band of volunteer firefighters shown in the December photograph of the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar dates from May 1936 when the disused Primitive Methodist Church on Dereham Road had been purchased for the Fire Brigade by Edward Gibbs.

 

Reepham Fire Station on Dereham Road, possibly late 1930s.

 

Newspaper reports said the building had a “splendid frontage which affords a clean take-off from any angle. Mr Edwards Gibbs, sen., has had alterations made so that the brigade can stand both their engines and all their equipment in one place.”

Previously the old hand-engine had been stored on land in the area of Old Brewery Lane.

Reepham’s fire brigade had been established for about 100 years, beginning with manual pumps carried on a horse-driven van.

Putting out a fire required a source of water and one report of a fire in December 1938 tells of the pump being placed at Sun Barn Pit (a large pond that existed in front of the present fire station) with more than 2,000 feet of hose run out through Church Street to the back of the Old Rectory.

Inches of ice had to be broken before pumping could begin and several lengths of hose burst, the escaping water turning into sheets of ice within minutes.

 

Whitwell Road showing Sun Barn Pit.

 

In 1938, at the fire brigade’s annual dinner held at the Sun Inn, Edward Gibbs “recalled the days of the old manual engine. Those were the days of plenty of thrills, first in clashing the church bells, then the process of loading the engine onto a waggon, and then, upon arrival at the fire to have a look around, send someone straight away for bread and cheese and beer.”

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Buy the Reepham Life 2019 Calendar HERE

 

Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 10:11

The November picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar shows Hackford House (now the Bircham Centre) as a First World War hospital.

At the outbreak of the war, the British Red Cross had already secured buildings, equipment and staff, and was able to set up temporary hospitals as soon as wounded men began to arrive from abroad.

By December 1914, Reepham Red Cross Hospital was in operation as a 12-bed VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Auxiliary Hospital No. 52, the first wounded having arrived at the “Parish Hall from Norwich conveyed in motor cars lent by local gentlemen”.

Samuel Bircham had donated the use of the Scouts’ Club Room (at the back of the Bircham Centre garden) as a kitchen facility and later gave permission for Hackford House to be used, which accounts for the number of “Hospital Blues” in the calendar photograph.

Permanent staff included a commandant (Lady Grace Barry of Witchingham Hall), a quartermaster, a matron, some full-time nurses and a number of VAD nurses. Many local volunteers from Reepham provided cooking, cleaning, laundering and night-duty support.

Each volunteer had a record card and the card of Nan Bircham (Samuel Bircham’s daughter-in-law) is shown below.

Her sister, Dorothy Bruce, is also on the list, and although she gives a Norwich address, we can probably assume that she spent some nights at the Old Brewery House, where Nan lived with her children Merrick, Michael and Ann.

Also pictured is the card of Dr E.V. Perry, medical officer-in-charge, who lived at Eynsford House.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Post date: Monday, September 17, 2018 - 21:16

The October picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar shows several cyclists in Reepham’s Market Place, photographed after 1987.

The photograph below shows men from a First World War cycle regiment on parade in the Market Place, possibly 1916. Some may have been billeted in the area. (An archive photograph shows two soldiers on Reepham Moor with rifles on their bicycles.)

A bicycle was an ideal means of transportation as it was comparatively lightweight. It could be carried over obstructions and, as well as being ridden, could be loaded with equipment and pushed. A motorcycle was faster, but a bicycle was silent.

Volunteer cyclist units started in Great Britain in the 1880s. The official Army Cyclist Corps was formed in 1914.

In the early days military cyclists proved their worth, and there were numerous reports of their bravery in the British cycling press. But trench warfare forced the reassignment of soldiers from cyclist units to infantry units, and although bicycles were still used extensively throughout the war by all sides, there was less need for actual cyclist units.

A cyclist’s duties included reconnaissance, security patrols and courier work. Cyclists were used to cycle along communications trenches, which was particularly important if the security of the trench telephone system was found to have been compromised by enemy receiving stations.

The British Army’s Cyclist Training Manual 1907 (as revised in 1911) was replete with items as how to salute while standing by, sitting on and riding the bicycle, drill movements such as “Ground Cycles”, “Take Up Cycles” and “Stack and Unstack Cycles”, and helpful advice on care of bicycles such as “Bicycle tyres should be wiped with a damp cloth after a march, so that all grit, which if left might cause a puncture, may be removed.”

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Post date: Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 21:52

The September picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar shows the Reepham Primary School Class 2 of 1937.

Hackford and Whitwell School was built on the current site of the primary school in School Road, Reepham, in the 1890s, replacing the previous school building in Church Street, which is now the Town Hall.

The present Town Hall had been the original Hackford and Whitwell Parochial School dating from the 1860s and paid for by subscription. With a rising population the Church Street premises had become too cramped for the increasing numbers of children.

Reepham parish also had a school – St Mary’s on Norwich Road, where Richard Cornall was the headmaster from 1896 (taking over from Susan Goddard) until 1912.

Entries from St Mary’s log book show the importance of attendance in relation to funds granted to the school by the School Board. Regular visits were made to check on the attendance registers, which had to be marked by a certain time each day, morning and afternoon.

Regular inspections were also made, often unannounced, by school inspectors to check on pupil attainment and quality of teaching. Funds granted relied on the results of these inspections.

Later entries show that by 1914 there were approximately 50 pupils on the register. Numbers continued to dwindle and Reepham St Mary’s school closed around 1920, amalgamating with Hackford and Whitwell, although the building continued to be used for woodwork and cookery classes by other schools in the area.

The log book also records school closures on account of measles, whooping cough, cases of ringworm, non-attendance due to bad weather and bad boots!

Reepham St Mary’s log book is available on the UK-based online genealogy service Findmypast and, like the curate’s egg, is good in parts.

For a more detailed look at Hackford and Whitwell School in the 1920s and 1930s refer to Wesley Piercy’s booklet My Town: Essays on the History of Reepham.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Post date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 09:40

The August picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar shows the Cawston Road/Wood Dalling junction as it was before the new houses were built on Crown Meadow.

On the site of the former Reepham Railway Station can be seen the old granary buildings (now Kerri’s Farmhouse Pine), the station building itself and the disused railway line leading down the view, which has become Marriott’s Way.

The group of small modern industrial units next to the station, known as Coller’s Way, was named after R. Coller & Son, coal and corn merchants, with the large older building (now Reepham Garage Services) still showing some old signs. Other businesses based at the yard were Stimpson & Hurn and William Freeston.

The bridge that took the road over the railway line is now a footpath. One of the highest points in Reepham, it was used as a lookout post by air raid wardens in the Second World War. Part of the original road still exists behind the wooded area as the road bends round towards Cawston.

Six roads met at what was once called Station Plain. However, the railway reduced it to five by making the Wood Dalling and Cawston Roads use the one bridge.

In the 1901 census this area near Reepham Station was still called Six Crossways. The main buildings here were The Crown Inn with a few surrounding cottages, one of which was a laundry business run by Matilda Timbers.

In the 1920s Philip Hunt opened a general supplies store and pork butcher’s, moving from a previous site in Reepham Moor. This later became Station Stores (now The Cutting Station hairdressers).

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

Does anyone know what and where these patterns were?

Post date: Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:40

Violet Watson, captain of Reepham Women’s Bowls Club, was the wife of Clifford Watson, licensee of the Sun Inn in Reepham’s Market Place, who had taken up the licence in 1922. Previously, his father, Frederick Watson, had been the licensee from 1905.

The women’s bowls team had many successes throughout the 1960s. In 1968 Mrs Symonds, Mrs Wyand and Mrs Eglington (also in the July picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar) were runners-up in the Women’s National Triples. Four of its players in the 1960s represented Norfolk at national level.

Another successful bowler in the team was Daisy Mole (née Burton), who was born in 1892, grew up in Kerdiston and in November 1913 married Alfred Morris Mole, a Reepham postman for many years.

They lived in Whitwell Street and had a smallholding, showing their goats and livestock at local competitions and fairs. Daisy was widowed in 1933 and later moved to Station Road.

Daisy’s niece recently donated a number of photographs of Daisy and Alfred Morris Mole to the Reepham Archive. The photographs below are of Daisy with her husband around the time of their marriage, and one from the 1960s with her bowling trophies.

The women’s bowls team played on the Sun Inn’s own bowling green, which is still in use by Reepham Town Bowls Club today.

(The King’s Arms also had a bowling green on the Dereham Road and Dr Perry may have had a green within the extensive grounds of Eynsford House.)

Janet Archer

• The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

 

Post date: Monday, May 21, 2018 - 21:31

The June picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar shows the grand parade in the Market Place, which was part of Reepham Shopping Week in 1950.

In that year the average diet was still influenced by rationing and there was a heavy reliance on bread, milk and vegetables.

Fruit, vegetables and fish were not rationed, although, with a shortage of foods being imported, many fruit and vegetables were only available when they were in season.

Photo: © IWM (D 7958)

Before the war, more than two thirds of British food was imported. But enemy ships targeting merchant vessels prevented fruit, sugar, cereals and meat from reaching the UK.

At the time of the picture, petrol rationing had only just ceased in May 1950, followed by soap in September, but many essential items like tea, sugar, eggs, butter, meat and cheese were still on ration.

It took another four years before all rationing ceased. Tea was still rationed until 1952 and then in 1953 sugar and eggs became freely available and, finally, cheese and meat in 1954.

The continuance of rationing after the official end of the war encouraged people to carry on growing their own food in back gardens and allotments. Queueing outside shops to buy a family’s rations continued to be a way of life.

There were also severe shortages of most consumer products, which prompted the continuance of the wartime “make-do-and-mend” culture. Clothing did not come “off the ration” until 1949, four years after the war had ended.

Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight on 4 July 1954, when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were finally lifted.

Janet Archer

  • The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

 

Post date: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 15:19

The May image in the Reepham Life Calendar 2018 shows a photo of the Reepham Cricket Club team in 1921.

Early information about a cricket club in Reepham is sparse, but there are occasional newspaper reports of a club based in the town as early as 1805.

In the 1850s and 1860s the club appeared to be thriving – in one season even hiring a professional bowler.

However, the club must have run into difficulties and efforts were made to re-establish it, notably in 1875 when, in spite of funds being provided by Rev. Sir Edward Repps Jodrell, and a core of enthusiasts, a ground could not be procured. The club was later re-formed in 1881 after a break of 16 years.

Finding a suitable match ground seems to have been a perennial problem. In 1884, when the cricket club was again re-formed, the club resumed using a ground at Kerdiston, probably made available by Barnabas Seely. But misfortune lay ahead, hence this extract from the Norwich Mercury in May 1884:

In 1889 and 1890 the club was using Mr Brownsell’s Meadow as a practice ground. (Thomas Brownsell was the farmer at Rookery Farm at that time, having previously farmed at Moor Farm.)

And in 1891 “Mr B. Stimpson kindly offered a meadow at Sall, gratis, for the use of the club”.

The later-1890s seemed more successful as the team took part in the Junior County Cup and Samuel Bircham provided a ground free of rent – this may have been on land in Norwich Road opposite where Reepham Fishery is now.

Janet Archer

  • The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

 

Post date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 21:21

As seen in the April picture of the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar, one of the noticeable features of the Robertson’s butcher’s premises is the stepping on the gable end that faces the Market Place.

A murky picture (above) of crowds celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 reveals a different roof shape with two chimneys, and an architect’s drawing in the Reepham Archive dates the alterations to the early 1900s.

John Hall had already been running his harness and saddle-making business there since at least 1890. By the mid-1920s his son Bertie was running the saddlery business and John had retired to live in the building next door that is now Mott’s Pharmacy; he was still living there in 1939.

The other photograph (below), possibly from the 1920s, shows the picket fence (or a similar one) that was still there when the building was occupied by L.L. Skipper in the 1980s.

Previously, Robert Barber, a watchmaker and jeweller, had lived in the current pharmacy building for more than 30 years.

Barber was born in Salle and had spent some time in the 1st Royal Dragoons, marrying in Dublin while stationed at the Royal Barracks. His two eldest children were christened at the garrison chapel at Arbour Hill, Dublin.

His next two daughters were christened in Ashted, Warwickshire, presumably while Robert was posted at Great Brook Street Barracks.

By 1871 he was living and working as a watchmaker in Cawston, moving to Reepham Market Place by the time of the 1881 Census.

Missing photo album returned

Reepham Archive is delighted to report that the missing album of historical photographs has been returned to the Bircham Centre and is now safely back in the library.

Janet Archer

  • The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. Email: reephamarchive@gmail.com

 

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