Post date: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 09:01

It is planned to reopen the Reepham Archive to the public on the first Saturday (3rd) and first Wednesday (7th) of July, depending on coronavirus restrictions.

The Archive is located on the first floor of the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham.

Email: admin@reephamarchive.co.uk

Post date: Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 18:32

By Janet Archer

The June photo in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar shows two farriers at the blacksmiths on the corner of Ollands Road and Malthouse Lane, Reepham. It is thought the two men are Walter Rudd and his brother, and that the photograph was taken in the 1930s.

Reepham, like most towns and villages in the 18th and 19th century, had its share of blacksmiths’ workshops and yards, where horses could be shod, and wagons and carriages repaired.

Larger workshops, like Eglington & Gooch, which existed on the site of the current Spar shop in Ollands Road, would employ a variety of skilled workmen, the blacksmith and his forge, carpenters and wheelwrights and, of course, a farrier for the specialised skill of shoeing horses.

Above: Employees of Eglington & Gooch, c.1910.

Working closely with horses being shod means that a farrier needs knowledge of the anatomy of a horse and to be able to spot signs of infection or damage in the hoof or leg.

Consequently, specialist farriers were often veterinary surgeons, and their work also involved the welfare of cattle and sheep.

A horse also needs to be shod appropriately according to its size and role, such as hauling a cart on roads, pulling a plough across a field or being ridden for leisure.

It is not surprising to find a public house next door to, or included within, a smithy, and in Reepham there are records, dating back to White’s Directory of 1832, showing the existence of a public house or beer house called the Farriers Arms, also known as the Horse Shoes.

Above: Eglington & Gooch’s yard with houses in foreground, once the home of Robert Parker Gooch and, nearest the foreground, the Farriers Arms, both now demolished.

Thomas Grand had the licence from the 1830s until Robert Parker Gooch took it over in the 1850s. A sale advertisement from the Norfolk Chronicle in 1835 indicates that a blacksmith’s and farrier’s trade had been in existence for some time before that.

From the reports of a licensing meeting in 1906, Sidney Eglington, representing his grandfather, said that Robert had had a licence for 55 years and would find it hard to give it up. If the magistrates granted a licence a wholesale trade would continue to be carried on, as it was formerly.

Superintendent Palmer was asked for a report and replied that he had measured the distance between all the various public houses in the town. He said that there was more trade done in the market now than when the witness was stationed there 13 years ago, and it was not uncommon for there to be 50 carts at the King’s Arms on a Wednesday.

To the best of his knowledge no excise licence had been taken out for 19 years. The licence renewal was refused in June 1906.

Information from Fifteen Locals by Joyce Cox; Norfolk News, 3 March 1906; norfolkpubs.co.uk

The Reepham Archive is normally 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: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 12:20

By Janet Archer

In the May photograph of the Oddfellows in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar, we can see the huge banner declaring the fundamental principles of the association: friendship, love and truth.

Officers of the society are displaying their sashes, and we can see one with “NG” indicating that he is the Noble Grand, or current president of a lodge, and another with the initials “PG” representing a Past Grand Master.

The Eynsford Lodge was part of the East Dereham District group of lodges, and in 1907 Reepham was chosen to host the next district meeting since it was that lodge’s 50th anniversary. The photograph may have been taken to celebrate that occasion.

Signs of a marquee can be seen in the background. More than 200 members and visitors, including Sir William Brampton Gurdon MP, dined in a marquee erected in Brownsell’s Pasture (Rookery Farm).

By 1850, the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity Friendly Society had become the largest and richest friendly society in Britain.

It was established in 1810 having become dissatisfied with the way the Grand United Order was being run.

The Industrial Revolution, the lack of trade unions, and the lack of personal or public insurance caused the growth of friendly and benevolent societies.

Only by joining mutual friendly societies such as the Oddfellows could ordinary people protect themselves and their families against illness, injury or death.

Public houses were often used as the base for regular society business. When members met, they often “took something for the good of the house”.

The Loyal Eynsford Lodge made use of the King’s Arms in Reepham and, after being formed in 1857, celebrated their anniversary each Whitsun by parading through the town, paying calls on their supporters at Whitwell Hall, Hackford Hall, The Limes and The Ollands before attendance at a church service.

In 1875 more than 100 guests filled a marquee erected in the Market Place with dinner provided by host Berriman of the King’s Arms.

Besides the annual Whit Sunday parade and church service, afternoons of sports and fun races were often arranged, followed by dancing in the evening.

In the 1880s the fun races included a sack race, a three-legged race and climbing a greasy pole for a leg of mutton. The prizes were sums of money, e.g., 7s. 6d. for the winner of the sack race.

Other events such as smoking concerts were also arranged to raise funds. The poster (below) shows such an event that took place in 1933.

The Eynsford Lodge was still in existence in the 1970s, advertising itself in several Reepham Carnival programmes, but more recently the lodge has been superseded by the Heart of Norfolk branch based in Dereham.

The Reepham Archive is normally 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 current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

Post date: Monday, March 8, 2021 - 17:17

The April photograph in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar shows Sidney Parker Eglington (below, second from right) in his role as captain of Reepham Fire Brigade on the site of a fire in Salle.

Sidney was a well-known character in the town with an agricultural machinery business at the bottom of Ollands Road.

Sidney’s mother Jane had died in 1873 when he was a barely a year old and he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents.

His brother Mark, aged about two and a half, went to his paternal grandfather Mark Eglington, who at that time farmed land in Whitwell, near Hackford Hall.

As a young man Sidney worked with his grandfather Robert Parker Gooch, a veterinary surgeon and farrier, who also ran a beer house known as the Farrier’s Arms.

Robert’s yard, pub and residence and yard were situated on the site of the present Spar shop and the new houses next to it.

Robert originally came from Corpusty, where his father was also a vet, and moved to Reepham in the 1850s.

Sidney (below seated on tractor) was a “larger than life” character – in girth as well, judging by the photographs of him.

As well as running the agricultural machinery business and being fire chief, he also ran an undertaking concern.

Around the corner from Eglington & Gooch’s premises was a bakery, followed by the house of John Frankland, a tinsmith, and in 1902 Sidney married John’s daughter Blanche.

Sidney died in 1948 having been involved in almost every aspect of life in Reepham: he was a parish councillor, vice-captain and captain of the fire brigade, and a member of the local Oddfellows lodge.

He also played the part of Tambo in Reepham’s own minstrel troupe, The Black Diamonds, and was a great supporter of many town activities, including the bowls team and the primary school.

Information from Reepham Society publications: Fifteen Locals by Joyce Cox and My Town by Wesley Piercy.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is normally 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 current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

Post date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 17:20

We assume the soldiers with their bicycles in the photograph for March (above) in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar were part of the Army Cyclist Corps during World War I, billeted in Reepham while they were training.

The Reepham Archive has information about a young man called Jack Brahms, who spent some time training in the Reepham area with the 3rd City of London Yeomanry.

After about six months training, he was sent to France where, in 1916, he was invalided out of the frontline trenches with severe frostbite.

In the photograph (below) of his unit taken in Reepham, Jack is in the front row on the right.

Part of Jack’s story is told in a book by Jerry White about the Rothschild Buildings in Spitalfields, London.

The Spitalfields area is famous for the Huguenot silk weavers who settled in the area in the 1700s, and later for the site of the Jack the Ripper murders in the late 19th century.

The Jack the Ripper case highlighted how rundown and densely populated the area had become, full of common lodging houses, courts, alleys and interconnecting properties.

Plans were made for demolition and rebuilding, resulting in tenements like the Rothschild Buildings where Jack lived.

Typically, these flats consisted of two rooms with a small scullery and a shared toilet on the landing.

The buildings were themselves eventually demolished in the 1970s and 1980s.

Information and photograph about Jack Brahms from Rothschild Buildings, Life in an East End Tenement Block 1887-1920 by Jerry White: Publisher: Vintage. ISBN 978-0-712601-46-7

Other information from londonremembers.com and wiki.casebook.org

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is normally 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 current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

To buy the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar, click HERE

Post date: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 13:54

The Reepham Life 2021 Calendar picture (below) for February shows the Towns End crossing with railings of the old Pound just visible at the bottom right.

It is thought this photo was taken in the 1890s when Dereham Road was called Pound Road.

Another place used more recently as a pound was the grassed area in front of St Michael’s.

A pound was a necessary feature of many English villages and towns, especially useful on market days – it was used to hold stray sheep, pigs and cattle until they were claimed by the owners.

Early pounds just had hedges; later ones were built in stone or brick, making them more stock-proof, like the one shown in the photograph (below) that is still in existence at North Elmham.

Above: North Elmham Pound: built around 1830 to pen stray animals. Photo: John Wernham/The Village Pound/CC BY-SA 2.0

A typical market day in Reepham in the 1880s would include the sale of pigs, poultry, sheep and cattle.

By 1881 Ireland’s, the auctioneers, were advertising that Reepham Station was open for cattle and the following year stated that drovers could be hired at both Whitwell and Reepham stations.

1877 saw the setting up of Ireland’s sale ground on what is now the car park on Station Road; sales continued there until 1972.

The amount of stock involved, with cattle being driven from the station and other stock arriving in horse-drawn carts, inevitably led to accidents.

In 1886, a cart of pigs from Heydon was nearing the sale ground when a pig broke loose from the market and frightened the horse, causing it to break away from the cart and set off at great pace down the hill.

It was eventually stopped near the cemetery on Whitwell Road, but not until after it had collided with a cartload of ducks, belonging to a Mr Hubbard, going to market.

Mr Hubbard’s cart was wrecked, but neither his horse nor the runaway horse were badly injured and the ducks escaped unhurt.

Information from Norwich Mercury, 3 October 1903, and Wikipedia.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is normally 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 current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

To buy the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar, click HERE

Post date: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 17:22

The community archivists from the Norfolk Record Office will be starting the first of nine training sessions with the Reepham Archive in early January through to the end of March.

These sessions will, initially at least, be held by Zoom video conferencing and last for a maximum of two hours each.

Volunteers from the Archive have already attended courses on cataloguing, digitisation and recording oral history, and have found them interesting and helpful and not at all daunting.

These sessions are open to anyone in Reepham interested in local history and thinking of volunteering with the Reepham Archive, either now or sometime in the future.

This is a good opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, with the courses funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

For further information, contact the Reepham Archive by email.

Post date: Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 17:20

The January picture (above) in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar shows milk being delivered on Dereham Road in a very cold winter in the 1950s, with the house now known as Tyler’s Mead in the background.

A photograph (below) from the Reepham Archive in postcard format shows the house in the early 1900s.

In the 1901 census, Edward Le Neve is registered as living in the house with his wife Florence.

They were married in August 1900 in Oxnead parish and in the register Florence’s maiden name is given as Browne with her father named as Charles Edward Browne.

At the time of the marriage, Charles employed 10 men in the milling business and a further 10 on his 250-acre farm.

The card is postmarked 1907 and addressed to Mrs C. Browne in Marsham. Although the signature of the sender is not clear (it may have been a family nickname), this information allows us to assume that the writer was Florence since the message begins “Dear Mother”.

Edward Le Neve was the local registrar and relieving officer for the Aylsham Union – Reepham was part of that union at the time.

The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act introduced a national welfare system of poor relief with administrative areas called “poor law unions”. Each union was run by an elected board of guardians.

The relieving officers had to identify the poor and needy in their district, visiting applicants in their homes to assess their health and living conditions, and offer appropriate financial relief and medical help if necessary.

By 1907 Edward and Florence had two children, Florence and Arthur. Arthur was born in 1902 and is probably the child in the second photograph. He attended Reepham National School (St Mary’s, Norwich Road) until July 1915, when he is recorded as “transferred”.

The family presumably moved to Aylsham as by 1920 Edward is found in the town’s electoral roll.

Janet Archer

The Reepham Archive is normally 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 current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

To buy the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar, click HERE

Post date: Monday, January 13, 2020 - 18:17

Billy Fury, who visited Reepham in the summer of 1964, was a pop idol at the height of his fame and often dubbed “Britain’s Elvis Presley”. No doubt this was because they shared a similar hairstyle and a certain expertise in hip gyration.

The Reepham Fire Brigade was planning a fête on Stimpson’s Piece on 13 June of that year and wanted a celebrity to open the event and judge a beauty competition for “Miss Fire”.

Billy Fury was appearing in Great Yarmouth at the time. June Betts of the Reepham organising committee wrote to Billy’s agent, Larry Parnes, inviting him and Billy to the event.

They were pleased to accept and made no charge for the appearance, although they did require transport to and from Yarmouth and some stringent security arrangements, including a suggested 12 police officers for crowd control at the fête.

The late Vernon Whall was the designated driver on the day, according to Mrs Betts (although Evelyn Whall says the driver was Herbert Vout). He collected Billy and two minders, but they mistakenly believed they were only travelling the few miles to Reedham.

Panic ensued when they realised they had a much longer journey to Reepham. Vernon, however, calculated that the return journey could be achieved within the timeframe if the contest could be held immediately on arrival and if they could return to Yarmouth soon afterwards.

Fortunately, the timing and security arrangements worked well. Reepham only had two police officers at the time, but the desired number was made up by smartly uniformed fire officers.

There were around 10 contestants in the beauty pageant, most, but not all, from the Reepham neighbourhood and they paraded within the high fencing of the tennis court. A good crowd of spectators milled around outside.

Billy wasted no time selecting “Miss Fire” and a couple of runners-up. A newspaper photographer was on hand to capture the moment when Billy kissed the winner (below) and presented her with a white satin sash.

Billy was presented with gold cufflinks as a token of thanks. He greatly enjoyed a circuit of Stimpson’s Piece on a fire engine before rushing back to Yarmouth for his next stage performance.

The fête continued after Billy’s departure and, although it rained, a good time was had by all and an impressive £145 was raised for the Fire Service Benevolent Fund.

By Merilyn Meads, with thanks to June Betts

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, October 10, 2019 - 21:55

In the 1920s, as well as the two Anglican churches in Reepham, there were three Methodist chapels, as well as the Salvation Army and the Plymouth Brethren.

Buildings in use at the time included the Wesleyan Chapel on Station Road, built in 1817.

The picture (above) of the 1910 circuit meeting in the Reepham Life 2019 Calendar for November shows the chapel before the schoolroom was built.

An earlier picture (below) from the Reepham Archive shows the chapel with the old schoolroom entrance on the east side coming right down to the road.

In 1827, a Baptist chapel was built in Fisher’s Alley, later taken over by the Free Methodists, which amalgamated with another group to become the United Methodists.

This chapel closed when the three main Methodist bodies amalgamated in 1932 and the congregation transferred to Station Road.

The chapel was sold and became a carpenter’s workshop and afterwards was used by the Good Companions’ Club.

It has since been demolished and two houses now stand on the site. It is thought that an upper window (overlooking Fisher’s Alley) in the new houses was one of the stained glass windows from the old chapel.

The Primitive Methodist chapel on Dereham Road was first built in 1847, then rebuilt in 1867. The congregation moved to the Station Road chapel after the Methodist Union in 1932. By 1936 it had become the headquarters for the Reepham Fire Station. It is now a private residence.

In the late 1800s, the Salvation Army established itself in the town by hiring premises in Norwich Road from Sidney Eglington. Two officers are registered in the 1901 census: William Mackenzie, Captain, and Walter Wise, Lieutenant, in a house on Norwich Road, both young and single.

In the same census, an Amelia Hudson in Newland Villas is also named as a Salvation Army preacher.

In the early 1900s, a congregation of Plymouth Brethren was active in Reepham and had premises in a building owned by a man called Jennings at Towns End.

It is called a Mission Room in the 1911 census and is possibly the Gospel Room that stood on the site of what is now Reepham Hair Studio.

(Some information from My Town by Wesley Piercy.)

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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