Post date: Monday, May 30, 2022 - 17:06

The Reepham Archive will be holding an exhibition to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations from Tuesday 31 May to Sunday 5 June.

The exhibition will be held in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham, and will feature news reports, photographs, residents’ recollections and memorabilia of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in June 1953 and previous royal events involving the Reepham district.

The exhibition will be open from:

  • Tuesday 31 May – Friday 3 June, 10 am – 12 noon, in the Bircham Centre, Room 7 (downstairs);
  • Sunday 5 June, 10 am – 4 pm, in the Bircham Centre garden.

 

Archive volunteers will usually be around during these times to answer any questions or if unattended you can leave a message.

Post date: Monday, April 11, 2022 - 18:02

The Reepham Archive recently received some old photos from a descendent of the Ford family, who were bakers in the town and lived in the house next to what was formerly the Old Brewery House in Market Place.

The family wonder if anyone can identify the people in the photos and where the photos were taken.

The first photo shows seven young people sitting on a low wall, the railings behind are quite distinctive. On the reverse is written “Abbots Pride”. It is thought to be taken in Reepham.

The second photo is of an unknown family: five people, possibly three generations, with a black dog in a garden, taken around 1930. The people are likely to be related to, friends of, or worked for, the Ford family.

If anyone has a photograph of Walter Ford, who died aged 75 in 1980, the family would also be pleased if they could have a copy of it.

Please contact the Reepham Archive by email with any information.

Post date: Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 18:13

By Janet Archer

In response to receiving copies of various newspaper cuttings, Andrew Hunt wrote to the Reepham Archive describing his childhood experiences:

“I had thought about the Walking Man on and off over the years and on a recent visit to Norfolk I tried to locate the exact place where he used to be – there was nothing.

“When I tried to describe to my family about this strange and, quite honestly, eerie figure that would appear in the headlights of my father’s car on dark nights many, many years ago, I think they believed I had swapped reality for the plot of a Hammer House of Horror production.

“I was terrified of the Walking Man and avoided looking at him at all costs, but I was a very young child at the time.

“My grandparents who lived in Reepham had both passed away by the end of the seventies and I never really visited the town again.

“I began to wonder if I’d made the whole thing up too, but my friend Mark Davies reassured me I (probably) hadn’t and that local landmarks come and go at a fairly regular rate and kindly took it upon himself contact the Reepham Archive to answer the question that had been bugging me for decades.

“I was delighted when Mark contacted me with all the information about Mr Lain and the story surrounding the statue. I was so happy to finally put this to rest.

“I must confess I’m still a bit unnerved by the Walking Man, but at least, thanks to [the Archive], I know all the facts.

“My daughter, too, is fascinated with this story and plans to feature an image of the Walking Man in an art installation as part of her degree course.

“I wanted to share all this and hopefully let Mr Lain’s family know that my overactive childhood imagination has kept the Walking Man alive and that he will be walking on for perhaps a little longer too.”

William Lain pictured in March 1972 with his statue outside his workshop in Norwich Road, Reepham. Photo: EDP

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. For more information about opening times and current services, contact the Archive by email.

Post date: Sunday, March 13, 2022 - 15:45

By Janet Archer

Recently, a tour guide from York contacted the Reepham Archive enquiring about a strange statue that stood in Reepham in the 1970s. He wrote on behalf of a friend whose family had lived in Reepham for many years.

It was discovered through a chance question to Michael Black that the statue had existed and stood in the yard on Norwich Road where William Lain had a stonemasonry and sculpting business in the premises that now houses Rococo Loco and included workshops and storage in Bircham’s Yard.

William and his wife opened the business in 1972 under the name Walking Man Antiques, specialising in porcelain and small items of furniture. The opening was reported in the Eastern Daily Press in March.

Later that year a further article appeared reporting damage caused by vandals to the Walking Man statue. The seven-foot-high sculpture had fortunately fallen onto a sack of earth, saving it from serious damage but chipping his hat and cape.

The Lain family kindly found some old newspaper cuttings, copies of which were sent to Mr Davies the tour guide and his friend Andrew Hunt, who later wrote of his childhood memories of the statue.

This article has been edited from those cuttings and Andrew’s information will appear in a future item.

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. For more information about opening times and current services, contact the Archive by email.

William Lain in June 1972 with the fallen statue. Photo: EDP

Post date: Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 20:31

By Janet Archer

When the Kendrews purchased The Ollands house and gardens in 1883 it had been a Bircham family residence for more than 50 years – the last Birchams living there were William Bircham (1800–1886) and his wife Marianne Dalrymple.

William had inherited the house from his uncle, also called William (1769–1853), who had married twice but had no children. This earlier William was the Bircham responsible for building The Ollands in the 1830s.

The Reepham Life 2022 Calendar picture for February (above) featured The Ollands, Reepham, taken by Edward Makinson Haigh in the 1860s, when the house was still owned and lived in by the Bircham family.

John Anthony Kendrew was a civil engineer who was born in Salford, Lancashire, in the 1830s. His proposal entry in the membership list of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1870 gives evidence of him having worked in railway construction abroad, such as Canada, Brazil and Colombo in Sri Lanka.

By1884 the Kendrews were already taking part in the social life of Reepham. John Kendrew later served as a local magistrate and as a member of various committees, including the Aylsham Board of Guardians.

He was chairman of the school board when land was being purchased for building the new primary school on Whitwell Road (part of this road was called Sun Barn Road at that time).

In the 1860s William Bircham had won prizes at horticultural shows for fruit and vegetables, notably grapes grown in the vinery that was 70 feet long.

John Kendrew also won prizes throughout the late 1880s and 1890s, notably for “Black Hamburg” grapes, tomatoes and chrysanthemums, as well as apples, soft fruit and potted plants such as primulas and cyclamen.

The Kendrews’ daughter Mary was married in St Michael’s in 1906 and a full report of the occasion was given in the Norfolk News. Traders from the town were invited to The Ollands to greet the bride before the wedding.

After the wedding 300 schoolchildren and their teachers were treated to a tea, and on the Sunday it was the turn of the “widows and old people of Hackford”, all being given a piece of wedding cake.

John Kendrew died in 1914. His wife Mary moved to Surrey and died in Reigate in 1920.

Above: John Anthony Kendrew and his daughter Mary.

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. For more information about opening times and current services, please email.

Post date: Monday, January 24, 2022 - 18:17

The Reepham Archive is planning to hold an exhibition to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June.

The Archive is looking for current and former residents’ recollections of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in June 1953 – or any other previous royal events involving the Reepham district, such as the Silver Jubilee in 1977, Golden Jubilee in 2002 or Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

These could include photographs, letters, diary entries or other memorabilia.

If you have any documents or photos that could be donated or lent for the exhibition, please contact the Reepham Archive by email.

Post date: Thursday, January 6, 2022 - 20:14

By Janet Archer

We assume that the Reepham Life 2022 Calendar picture for January (below) was taken in Gibbs’ yard, now known as Merchants Yard.

One of the men in the cart is Stanley Watson, younger son of Frederick Watson, licensee of the Sun Inn in the early 1900s. The photograph below shows Stanley on Gibbs’ cart driving up Ollands Road.

Stanley was apprenticed to Gibbs’ ironmongery business by the time he was 16 and worked for the Gibbs family for many years.

His older brother Clifford became licensee of the Sun Inn in 1922 and in the same year Stanley married Grace Fanny Dewing at St Mary, Aldborough.

Her father had grown up in Reepham Moor and was a younger brother of Martin Luther Dewing.

Grace, before her marriage to Stanley, had already begun teaching at Hackford and Whitwell Primary School.

Wesley Piercy remembers that, in the 1930s Grace was teaching the pupils of Standards 1 and 2.

After Stanley’s death in 1930 Grace continued teaching and four years later married Walter Lawn, also a teacher.

The 1939 register shows they were living in Reepham and working for Norfolk County Council.

Walter is registered as a head schoolmaster, but this would not have been at Hackford and Whitwell Primary School since Chute Thompson was still the head at that time.

Both Grace and Walter served as ARP wardens during the Second World War, and both were active in the Reepham detachment of the British Red Cross.

The photograph below from 1966 shows them with Ben Stimpson and Mr and Mrs Harold Rump loading boxes ready for a meals on wheels delivery. Can anyone identify the people in this photo (from left to right)? Please email the Archive.

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. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Friday, December 10, 2021 - 16:55

This photograph of a row of terrace houses has turned up in the Reepham Archive collection.

Does anyone have any idea or information about where this could be? It may be somewhere in the Reepham district.

Please send an email

Post date: Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 17:45

By Janet Archer

The December photograph in the Reepham Life Calendar 2021 shows the performers from the Sunday school in a nativity play held in St Mary’s in the 1950s, which includes Mrs McCubbin, the then vicar's wife, in the centre.

An additional photograph (below) shows a more formal, smaller group on the same occasion. Identification of some of the individuals can be found on the Reepham Archive website.

Sunday schools began to be established in the 18th century to provide basic lessons in literacy, as well as religious instruction for children who were often working alongside their parents on six days a week.

Robert Raikes, a Gloucester journal editor, is credited with establishing a successful Sunday school for poor and orphaned children in July 1780. As word of his work spread, Sunday schools soon appeared in other communities throughout England.

In Reepham in the 1920s every denomination ran a Sunday school: St Mary’s and St Michael’s, Wesleyan, Primitive and United Methodist, the Salvation Army and the Plymouth Brethren. Even parents who did not attend church thought that their children should attend Sunday school.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church had its own purpose-built schoolroom, which was added in 1904. Lessons were held prior to the Sunday morning church service where the children would join later with the adult congregation, followed by another session in the afternoon.

There would usually be a summer treat, possibly to the seaside, and a Christmas treat. Another important event was the Sunday School Anniversary where the children would give recitations and songs and be presented with prizes for good attendance.

In Wesley Piercy’s time in the 1920s the Sunday School Anniversary was in July. “A platform was erected in the chapel, on which sat all the Sunday school scholars and teachers and the choir. All the children had to give a recitation; no recitation, no treat. These were some of the biggest occasions of the year. All three chapels followed a similar pattern and were always packed on these occasions, when ladies could show off their new hats.”

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. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 08:49

By Janet Archer

The photograph below shows a row of thatched cottages on Orchard Lane, Reepham, which, according to research, was demolished in the 1930s. (The end of the row can just be seen in the Reepham Life Calendar 2021 photograph for November.)

Photos: Reepham Archive

Today there is only one example left on The Moor of a thatched cottage.

Harry Hawes tells us that many thatched roofs were replaced with pantiles in the middle of the nineteenth century by his father Thomas Hawes.

A terrace that has remained intact is shown in the picture below.

It included a shop run by Martin Luther Dewing, who began his working life as a grocer’s assistant in Aylsham, later setting up his own business in Dyball’s Yard.

This was behind the Old Brewery House in Reepham Market Place, where a few cottages and stables had been built after the sale of the Reepham Brewery in the late 1970s.

Martin Luther Dewing’s father, Thomas Dewing, ran a grocery and tailoring business in one of the cottages in the Old Monastery group.

Thomas had started his working life as a tailor’s apprentice, living with his family in Cawston.

The family were non-conformists and Thomas’s father Martin and his brother William were early trustees of Reepham Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

Thomas’s census record in 1891 appears close to the Red Lion public house at the corner of Reepham Moor.

By 1901 his son Martin was trading in Reepham Moor, probably taking over his father’s premises after Thomas’s death in 1895.

(Bullards Brewery had apparently made a request in 1890 for the name of the public house to be changed to Red Lion and it seems that the property traded with that name for some time, reverting to the Black Lion by 1901.)

Information from Harry Hawes’ memories of Reepham in the 1870s, Wesley Piercy’s A Story of Reepham Methodist Chapel and Michael Black’ s research on Reepham Moor in the 1990s.

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. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

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