From the Archive

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

 

Post date: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 20:43

Sheep and their wool were an important economic force from medieval times. By the middle of the 17th century two-thirds of England’s foreign commerce was based on wool, and everyone who had land, from peasants to major landowners, raised sheep.

Evidence of the landowners’ prosperity can be seen in the many beautiful churches in Norfolk, such as St Peter and St Paul, Salle.

The March picture in the Reepham Life 2018 Calendar of the shepherd and his boy reminds us that by the 19th century things were very different and sheep were traded primarily for their meat.

The Reepham Archive believes that this is a photograph of a young Robert Eaglen possibly with his father John.

John Eaglen was a shepherd all his life, born in Little Witchingham in 1832. As a boy he lived in Booton, and after marrying we find him living in Low Common Cottages in Whitwell with his wife Emily and a large family.

Robert (born 1874) also became a shepherd for a while and two of his brothers are called “Shepherd’s Page” in the 1881 Census.

By 1911 Robert was married with two children and had become a gamekeeper, living on Bawdeswell Road.

The Norfolk Electoral Rolls for 1919 show him with his wife Laurena working as a gamekeeper on an estate near Swaffham. (Topically, Laurena also had the vote on account of her husband having an occupation and of them not being lodgers – they were renting their house at the time.)

Although her parents moved away from Reepham, Robert’s daughter Fernleigh married Arthur Hardiment of Hardiment’s Stores, the grocery shop in Reepham’s Market Place.

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

The Reepham Life 2018 Calendar is still available for sale by mail order. Further details HERE

Post date: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 17:18

The Reepham Life 2018 Calendar for February shows recovering wounded soldiers from the First World War outside Reepham Town Hall, then known as Hackford Parish Hall.

Although we cannot identify any of the soldiers, we have found out some interesting information about the car in the foreground, AH222.

Due to the persistence of Reepham Archive volunteer Ann Middlemas we know that this car is still in existence and is well looked after.

It has competed in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on at least 50 occasions since 1936, the most recent run being in 2017.

This race was first organised in 1896 to celebrate the Red Flag Repeal. In that year the speed limit was increased from 4 mph on open roads and from 2 mph in towns to 14 mph.

To qualify for entry in the modern run, cars need to be have been built no later than 1905. On the calendar photograph you can see the pannier baskets, still in evidence in the modern picture.

AH222 is a Peugeot Type 49 which left the Peugeot works in 1902. The current owner tells us that it still has its original engine, wooden chassis and body – amazing for a car of its age. It was capable of speeds up to 25 mph.

There is a tenuous reference to it being registered to a Norwich doctor around 1904 and, although there is no evidence, we would like to think that AH222 belonged to Dr Perry, the local doctor who lived at Eynesford House on Dereham Road and was the leading medical officer for Reepham’s Red Cross Hospital during the First World War.

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. Send an EMAIL
  • The Reepham Life 2018 Calendar is still available for sale by mail order. Further details HERE

 

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