Alec Reynolds was born in Trimingham in 1926 and has lived all his life in the village. A regular and very popular feature in the Trimingham News has been Alec’s “Mardle” – the old Norfolk term meaning an informal chat – in which Alec agrees to be interviewed about his memories of times gone by, the way things were done in the old days, the people and the incidents which have gone into making up village life. We are delighted to reproduce these reminiscences in the order in which they were originally collected, reflections of a long life lived in Trimingham.
Alec’s Mardle for 2012
Alec’s father, Frank Reynolds, could remember sitting on the embankment at Trimingham as a little lad watching the men working. Alec’s Grandfather had told Frank that “the spoils from the cutting was used for the embankments and that it would be loaded up into wagons and a small steam loco would give a sharp tap to send them down the line. Two men were assigned to fix a sprag to the wheels so that the wagon tipped its load. Sometimes they were a bit too over enthusiastic and the entire wagon would tip right over. Since it could not easily be righted it would be buried in the embankment. Frank said, “I suppose more than one is still there.”
My Dad, Frank Reynolds, used to catch moles with traps in fields around Trimingham with his brother Percy. I can remember walking with him near Blackberry Hall and he stopped and watched a mole hill. He walked into the field and dug in his toe into the ground and flicked a mole out and killed it. He would take them home and skin them. The flesh could not be used and was buried. The skins were pegged out on a board to dry in the sun. When they were ready he put them in a Basildon Bond envelope box, as it was just the right size, and sent them by train to London where they were made into coats and hats.
George V Jubilee
Rev. Buxton owned Trimingham Estate, including the houses and farms in Trimingham. In celebration of George V’s Jubilee, in the woodland behind Coastguard Cottages he had planted a large quantity of daffodil bulbs and had paths and seats put in so that the villagers could use the wood. There was a gate off White Gate Lane and another off the main road near Bizewell Farm. However, it was never registered as public land so after Rev Buxton’s death Trimingham Estate was sold in various parcels and the wood was sold and is now private land.
The low ground which is down White Post Lane (next to the Council Houses) was the Battle Area during the Second World War. Soldiers used it during the week for manoeuvres, and the Home Guard at weekends. There was a Churchill Tank on the cliff top, besides a Plantation called “The Borres”, which is no longer there. The tank was used for target practice. The farmer labourers from Hick’s Farm were harvesting the sugar beet one autumn when they suddenly had shots fired over their heads by the soldiers practising. The soldiers were supposed to have a man with a red flag, one at Bizewell Farm end and one at the Council Houses end, but they did not do that that day. The labourers did not stay very long! When rolling the battle field with a tractor, there would be small explosions from the phosphorous in the grenades.
My father, Frank, and Arthur Hunt were Team Men at Hall Farm for Mr Harrison. Team Men had to get up early in the morning, about 5.00am, to clean out the stable, feed the horses, and groom them so that they were ready for the day’s work. After the day’s work they would feed them with hay, oats, chafe and mangold. They would give them a clean bed of straw for them to lie down for the night. When the tractor took over, they just had about four horses and one Team Man, who was Mr Hunt. Father Frank was the tractor driver; it was the first one in Trimingham and was an International W30, which did the ploughing and working the land.
The Tale of Straw in Fourteen Stages
When I first started work on a farm the straw was cut with a Binder (1), and then set in shocks to ripen off (2). It was then pitched onto a wagon (3), from there it was made into a stack (4). The stack was thatched with wheat and straw (5) to keep the rain out. It was then threshed to take the corn out (6). The straw was again stacked (7). It was then loaded onto a wagon (8) and unloaded (9) for bedding down cattle. The soiled straw was cleared out (10) and loaded onto a cart (11), which was pulled by horse, unloaded (12) and made into a muck heap to rot away. Finally it was picked up again (13) and spread (14) onto the land, as manure, for the next crop of straw.
Sugar Beet were drilled on land that had been well cultivated. It was drilled in rows 18ins or 20ins apart. It was drilled very thick to make sure of a crop. After the beet plants were big enough to see they were horse-hoed. After that the farm workers would go into the field with hoes to thin out the beet, leaving about 7/8ins between each plant. This would be done from the second week in May until the end of July. The fields had to be hoed by hand twice. Each man then had his own acre to hoe, and was paid so much an acre. From September to January the beet would be dug out of the ground by a fork or a digger by hand. They would be laid four rows in one; they were then topped by a hook. The beet would be put in heaps in the field; the tops (or leaves) were left in the rows. The beet were then carted off the land – some were taken into the Railway Yard and loaded onto trucks, some were put into a pile on the roadside and then loaded onto lorries. The entire beet crop ended up at Cantley Sugar Beet Factory. The beet tops were fed to the cattle, nothing was wasted. All the loading and unloading was done by manual labour.
In the early 1900s most of the houses and all the farms in Trimingham belonged to the Buxton family. John Henry passed the estate to Rev. Arthur Buxton, and I can remember him as my landlord. When the Rev Buxton died, Margaret and I were given the opportunity to purchase our house, which we did. Rev Buxton had a Game Keeper who lived in Keeper’s Cottage; Woodlands’ Club House now stands on that site. There was also a Shooting Lodge in the woods at Woodlands. When in North Norfolk, the Rev Buxton lived at Upton House, which is the house opposite the traffic lights at the junction of Overstrand Road/Norwich Road at Cromer. Rev Buxton was the Rector at All Souls, Langham Place, London, next to the BBC.
The property owned by June and Patrick Carpmael used to be known as Bonnyrigg.
Before the Second World War it was owned by Jack Hulbert, Cecily Courtneidge and Peter Haddon. They used to come and stay there in the summer months. They were well known actors of their time. To the sea-side of the house was a lovely hard-court Tennis Court.
Cliff House was once owned by Major Pickford and his wife. He was a Headmaster at Paston Grammar School and he gave the lions on the gateposts at the entrance of the school on Grammar School Road.
I remember Christmas as a boy, which was a lot of years ago. In our house Christmas started on Christmas Eve. After us children had gone to bed, Mum and Dad decorated the tree and put up all the trimmings. When we got up on Christmas morning it looked lovely with the gifts around the tree. Also on Christmas Eve Mum would do all the baking and get the dinner prepared. Next to Alice’s shop was a Tea Rooms, which was also run by the Pearson family, and in the Tea Rooms they sold Christmas gifts and it was great to go in and walk round and look at all toys etc for sale. In the school we had a fancy dress day, a present from the Christmas tree, played games and had a good meal. It was nice to walk down the street and see the candles alight on the trees. What memories – they were the good days.
Alec’s Mardle for 2013
When I was a young lad, which was a long time go, I started school at Trimingham when I was 4½ years old. The only reason I started then was because my sister would not go to school unless I went, so I never had much choice. When I was five, Trimingham School closed and we then went to Overstrand School. At that time you went to a school until you were old enough to leave. The only chance of changing to a Grammar School was if your birthday came at the right time and you could sit an entrance examination, or if your parents could afford it. We went to Overstrand by Green & Grey Coaches, which belonged to Mr Babbage of Cromer. If he was busy on Day Trips he would send out Maroon Coaches of Overstrand, which belonged to Mr Reynolds, but he was not a relation of mine.
On Mondays we went to carpentry lessons at Cromer – we had to walk to Cromer from Overstrand. At dinner time we had 1½ hours, and we had to sit in the classroom for ½ hour and have our meal. After that we would go for a walk down on the beach and then to the classroom. For dinner we took a large potato and baked it near the open coal fire, and we had a bottle of milk which was also warmed up. The good old days. The infants had a room of their own. The big room was divided with a curtain; one side was classes 2, 3, and 4 and the other side classes 5, 6, and 7.
14th February – Valentine’s Day
As a lad in the village we used to look forward to Valentine. We used to go around to relations, and knock on the door. We would leave a small present and run away. After that we would wrap up a parcel of old papers in brown paper, and tie it up with string, leaving a long piece of string attached to the parcel. We would knock on the door and when the door was opened, we would pull the parcel away and run off. I expect they would have an idea who we were. It was just a bit of harmless fun
Trimingham had a football team called “Trimingham Pilgrims” and their colours were amber and black shirts with black shorts, and they wore hobnail boots. They used to work in the morning, go home and have their dinner and then played football. The football pitch was on the cliff near where the Pottery is now. The goal posts and nets were kept in the loft of the Pilgrim Shelter. On a Saturday, at dinner time, Uncle Bert Gray used to put the posts and nets up and mark out the pitch. Some of the players were Joe and Haward Kidd, Frank Reynolds, Reggie Neave from Overstrand and Harold Rounce. Harold always played on the wing – he was a stocky fellow and on the pitch there was a “pit” hole, which filled with water when it rained and Harold always fell in it. The trouble with playing on the cliff top, when the wind was blowing hard off the land, the players spent a good bit of time going on the beach to get the ball back. Everyone enjoyed the games, which the Pilgrims mostly lost. I can remember as a lad I used to get to the away matches in a sidecar as one of the players had a motorbike.
We used to have dances in the school. Dances were very popular in the surrounding villages. In my younger days we used to go to dances in other village halls, and they would support ours – villages used to mix together in those days. We used to do all the old dances. One I remember was a Spot Dance. One of the Committee Members who ran the dance would pick a spot on the floor. The music would stop and the couple who were on that spot would get a prize. In later years, we did Scottish dancing; someone came to give us lessons, but we never wore a kilt.
We used to have Whist Drives in the School, as this was used as the Village Hall after school finished. People used to come from the villages all around us. It was very popular and the hall got very full and sometimes the other rooms of the school had to be used so that everyone could play. At Christmas time people hoped to win their Christmas Dinner – the prizes were poultry, rabbits etc. There was no trouble parking as people either walked or came on their bicycles. When Rev Buxton who owned the school died, he left it to the village.
A Company came and drilled for coal at Gimingham, near Grove Farm on the Gimingham/Trimingham borders. It was one of worst winters – everywhere was covered with snow and ice whilst they were drilling. They did find coal – how much I don’t know. They know where it is, but whether they will ever come back we do not know. The big machinery had a job to get about because of the bad weather.
When I started working on a farm in 1940 I was thirteen. It was all horse work, and most of the ploughing would be done October to February. The crops were mostly oats, barley, wheat, sugar beet, mangolds and fetches, which were feed for the cattle. Wheat was drilled in December, the other crops in the spring, and mangold was the last crop to be drilled in April. The land was worked both ways before the drill went into the field. The fields were much smaller then, with hedges all around them. They were all cut by hand with a reef hook, and the cuttings were used for stack bottom or the mangold hales.
Continued from July
Sugar Beet was cut out seven inches apart by hand, starting the second week of May to July. Then harvest would start, and the corn was cut with a binder. Before starting we would mow around the headline with a scythe about six feet wide to make room for the binder to work. It would throw shoves out which were tied up with string, and then they were set up in row to ripen out. After a few days they were put into stacks. The threshing machine then came and threshed the corn out which was put into sacks. The weights were: Oats 12 stone, Barley 14 stone, Wheat 18 Stone. The sacks all had to be manhandled. The weights listed were when they had been weighed – before that they would have been much heavier. After harvest the stacks would stand for a while, and would then get thatched to keep them dry. The next operation would be to riffle the stubble ready for ploughing. It was then the turn of the sugar beet; these were all dug and topped by hand. This work would last from the end of September to the end of December. There were no waterproofs in those days; you had sacks tied around your legs, waist and shoulders. You had to work in all weathers – if not you did not get paid.
In the village we had two shops and you could get everything from them, without going out of the village. There was also a coal yard run by Plumbley, in the Station Yard. Tradesmen also delivered in the village: from Mundesley – Burton’s Bakers, Gedge Baker, Rusts Groceries and International Stores, Moys (for coal), Mr Briggs for accumulators for radios (on an exchange basis – you took one in one week and Mr Briggs charged it and you collected it the next week). The butchers were Frostdick, and Twig the Milkman. From Trunch – Mr Pike for groceries and paraffin, Mr Puncher, greengrocer. From Southrepps – Mr Bird, the butcher, Mr Drury, the baker. From Cromer – Rusts, International Stores, Mutimores, all were grocers; Bird, Gibbons, Russell – all were butchers. From North Walsham – Old Bear Stores, grocers, Blyths, ironmongers and garden tools, Mr Bloom, butcher. Mr Bloom got stuck in the snow at Keepers Loke and my Dad, Frank, got him out, and he put his van in the barn at Hall Farm and caught the train back to North Walsham.
All these tradesmen came through Trimingham – there were only half the number houses then, and they delivered to your house. They served the other villages around as well.
I was reading that the Pilgrim Shelter would be lost to the sea within 20 years. I have been retired for 22 years; there has been very little cliff erosion behind the Shelter in those years. If the ground is not cultivated it will stand another 50 years. When it was built it had a small coal fire and old windows which were draughty and in the winter it was cold in there. Now it has got double glazing and electric heating, which makes it very warm.
I also read about putting a kitchen and toilets in the Church – I am a great believer in that, though it is not far from the Pilgrim Shelter.
I saw a picture in the EDP about the Boys Brigade from Norwich coming to Trimingham. Yes, they did. They used to arrive at Trimingham Station about 10.30am on a Saturday. They would play their musical instruments from the Station as they walked through the village to the Education Hut down Gimingham Hill. It was always August Bank Holiday week when they came – they stayed for two weeks. They would play the music from the Education Hut back to Trimingham Station where they would catch the train back to Norwich, also on a Saturday. During their stay you could hear the music in the background.
In the village as a lad there were not many motor vehicles. The ones I can remember were:
Mr Harrison – one car; The Rectory – one car; The Coal Yard – one car; Mr Pearson – two Austins; Rev Page – one Hillman and one Rover; Mr Barclay – one Austin; Mr Clark, Fishmonger – one Ford van; Mr Bullimore – one Royal Enfield Motorbike; and Mr Knights – one Matchless Motorbike. Compare that with the motor cars in the village today. I think every house had a bicycle and at that time we used to play ball in the Street. How time has changed!
Alec’s Mardle for 2014
Farm Animals in the Village
The following kept animals:
Beacon Farm – Horses, Bullocks, Poultry
Church Farm – Horses, Bullocks, Cows, Poultry
Hall Farm – Horses, Cows, Bullocks, Pigs, Poultry
Blackberry Hall – Bullocks, Pigs and a Donkey
Now most of the farm buildings have been turned into living accommodation. All the above farmers had to grow hay to feed the animals in the winter. The seed was set in April and the hay was cut and stacked in June the following year.
My vegetable garden was a great success on 2013, apart from those eaten by the Cabbage White Butterflies. The lettuces, radishes, carrots, beetroots and broad beans did very well. The potatoes were very slow coming up, but they did eventually, and they were good.
I set a row of garden peas and I noticed that they kept getting thicker and thicker and I realised that the Sweet Peas had taken over and there was not an eating pea to be seen. I know what happened: I burnt the rubbish, which included the Sweet Peas which lay on the ground. Then I dug the ground deeper and it must have brought the seed to the top where they also struck – so I ended up with a self-sown row and the row I had set of Sweet Peas. They made a marvellous show. I have been burning garden rubbish on that same area for years. The amount of seed that came up would have cost pounds!
I should be grateful if you would put the following in your newspaper:-
What a kind Gentleman
On 26th January a friend and I had our lunch at The Swan Public House in Stalham. The food was well cooked and served by very friendly staff. When we came out, it was pouring with rain. As I am disabled and walk with two sticks, my friend went and unlocked the car for me. As I started walking to the car, a gentleman came walking down the car park towards me with his shopping and an umbrella. When he got near to me he stopped and put the umbrella over me and walked me to my car. What a kind thought! I hope he will read this letter so that I can thank him very much for his kindness. There are still some good people around.
Mr A Reynolds
The Methodist Chapel, which was in Middle Street, was well attended. Before the war, in summer time Sidestrand Hall was a holiday place – I think for people who were recovering from not being well. They used to walk along the cliff footpath to the Chapel for the Sunday service. The cliff top was crowded with people. After the Chapel was closed it was used by St John’s Ambulance. The Station Master from Trimingham, William Secker, took the classes in First Aid. My brother, Len, had a lot of interest in this and he ended up doing that sort of work.
Trimingham had a Sea Scouts Troop and we used to meet in the School. In the front of the School we had a huge flag pole on which we flew the flag on different occasions.
We used to go to camp at weekend and one place was on the cliff top in The Plantation, which is no longer there. We also went to Blickling Hall, and there were hundreds of Sea Scouts there, and we all had boats on the lake. Trimingham won the Best Camp, and we got a Shield. One year there was a group of Scouts camping in the area from Barnsley and they took us, the Sea Scouts, to Yarmouth for the day. We took over the lakes on the front. I think the residents of Yarmouth thought that the Armada had arrived!
During the War the cliffs between Mundesley and Sidestrand were mined. The mines were laid just over the cliff edge to the bottom, so we could not get onto the beach for several years. There was a barbed wire barrier at Mundesley end and at Sidestrand end. Also along the top of the cliffs there were notices saying “Keep Out – Mines”. It took several years to clear the mines after the war as the cliffs had fallen and the mines had moved. It was a dangerous task to clear them as our cliffs were the most dangerous ones to tackle. Several people got blown up, civilians and armed forces.
During Wartime in Trimingham there was the Home Guard and ARP, which later became Civil Defence. Also in the summer when the corn was getting ripe we had to do Fire Watch. When on duty for Fire Watch we had to walk around checking everything was alright. We started at 9.00pm and finished at 5.00am, then got ready for work. We also had a Searchlight and Anti-aircraft guns at the top of Church Lane on the right-hand side. The Home Guard patrolled the cliffs, the Pilgrim Shelter being their Headquarters. The Civil Defence made the Pilgrim Shelter ready if needed.
Margaret, who was my wife for 59 years, had to join either the Forces or the Land Army, and she chose the Land Army since she had been at Agricultural College. She was sent to Trimingham to work at Hall Farm, where the foreman was Mr Chris Harrison, and she used to milk the cows. One morning she was trying to get the cows into the milking parlour, where it was pitch black – you were not allowed a light. Anyhow, she got them all in but one. The one she could not get in was the neighbouring Farmer’s bull which had broke away from its own herd. Margaret never did live it down. Another time when the head cowman went down the Southrepps Road to Mill Pease to bring the cows in for milking, he thought he saw someone on the field. He left the cows and ran back to the farm and told Margaret she would have to go and fetch the cows, which she did. Goodness knows why he did not just open the gate – the cows would have walked home on their own! The cows all had to be milked, the milk cooled, labelled how much was in each churn and out ready for the lorry to pick up at 8.00am so that it could be loaded onto the Norwich train.
During the winter months on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning my Dad, his Brother and I as a young lad went rabbiting around the farm hedges and railway banks (during the Spring the rabbits would be breeding and would be no good for eating). We used to set out with the ferrets, long handle spades, which was the proper spade for the job, and purse nets which were about two foot square (Dad used to make them with string). When we got to our destination we would look to see how many rabbit burrows there were and find the main one. We put the ferret down it on a long line or sometimes we put a bit of string around its mouth and head. After the ferret was put down the burrow you would put the nets over the other burrows and if the rabbits tried to escape they would get tangled in the nets. If they did not appear then you would start digging, sometimes for hours, but another time you would be lucky and find the rabbits straight away. After all that you would bring the rabbits home and hang them up in the shed. During the week Mother would skin them and cook them. What a great meal and what a lovely smell when they were cooking! The skins would sell for about two old pence each.
During the Second World War we had soldiers billeted at Greystones, which was then called Bar Haven (previous to that it was called The White House). Also there were Wrens billeted in High Lawns – they had a tall wooden building on the cliffs behind Beacon Farm. It was an octagonal shape and it was used as a look-out for shipping. The Home Guard were on duty at night and soldiers during the day. It was a firm from Norwich which built the building used by the Wrens. They kept the wood and all their tools in the Cart Shed behind the barn at Beacon Farm. At that time I was working at Beacon Farm. The soldiers were also used to guard at the Beacon Hill which was used by the Air Force.
They came from Dagenham and arrived in Trimingham at the School. They went to the different homes where they stayed for a long while. It made a difference to the local children going to school. We went one week in the morning and the next week in the afternoon. Eventually they opened Trimingham School and also Sidestrand Hall and we got back to normal schooling. At Christmas the Evacuees gave us a party which was in the hall down the Londs at Overstrand. We all got a present but they got my name wrong – instead of being Alec they had my name as Alice, so I ended up with a knitting bag! It took a long while to live it down, but the thought was there.
During the Second World War and after there used to be aeroplanes flying along the coast. Sometimes they would tow a target which was fitted to a steel wire rope; it was well away from the plane. The plane would be flying peacefully along the coast and then the war-planes came over and they started practice shooting at the target and it would go on practically most of the day. Before the Second World War small aeroplanes would go by with advertising banners trailing behind them, and I can remember one for Ovaltine. During the war there were hundreds of Bombers and Fighter Planes filling the skies heading towards Germany for bombing.
Alec’s Mardle for 2015
It was December 21st 1948 and Trimingham beach was covered with oranges. As all along the coast our cliffs were mined, we had to go to Mundesley or Sidestrand and walk to Trimingham, being very careful. The ship ran aground on Haisbro Sands, and was called SS Bosphorus – she had to discharge the load to be towed off the sands. I think it was heading to Norway for the Christmas Market. At Sidestrand there was a man who had a rope from the cliff to the beach – one man tied the rope to the orange boxes and there were men on the cliff hauling them up. I had two brothers, Len and Edwin, and they walked to Mundesley and they got a few oranges. When they got to the top of the cliff, the Policeman took them away from them and told them they belonged to the Customs. I expect he had them for Christmas, so Mum and Dad never had any.
Trimingham Sea Scouts
Before the War we used to meet in the School where we learnt semaphore and Morse code. On a Sunday morning we used to go to Cromer Coastguard Station where we had a dinghy and canoe, kept on the beach. Once when we were in the canoe, one of the boys got very wet, so he took his shirt off and laid it on the rocks, and he collected some wood and lit a fire to dry it. In the meantime we went back out to sea in the canoe. A man from the village came along the beach, collected a lot of wood and put it on the fire we had lit. When we came ashore Ronnie was looking for his shirt and all he found were the buttons – the rest had got burnt up.
When I left school, I started work at the farm and got sixteen shillings a week, out of this I had to pay for 2 stamps, Employment and National Health. For that money I worked 52 hours a week in the summer and 48 hours a week in the winter. Out of that wage I had to buy the tools I used, including a Muck Fork, a Reef Hook, a Sugar Reef Hook and Digger, and a Digging Spade. The Fork was for cleaning out the Cattle Sheds, the Sugar Reef Hook was for topping the Beet, and the Digger was for digging the Sugar Beet up. The spade was for digging the drains, the Reef Hook was for cutting the hedges. It was all manual work – no machines at that time. The first pair of leather boots I bought for work cost sixteen shillings.
Mr and Mrs Lamb lived in Greystones which was called Bar Haven. They took in visitors and sold ice creams and minerals. They had a small golf course in their grounds. The grounds also included the land where the current bungalows are. The main road was not there – it was just the old Coast Road. Mr Lamb was going to build bungalows where the main road is – it was all fields then. He built one which he never got finished. My Dad and some other men started to dig the road near the Church with the bungalow on the left, which always looks nice with a well kept garden. The reason the bungalow never got finished was because the war started and Mr Lamb went away to serve in the war and never returned. The bungalow was finished after the war. It was used by the Army during the war.
Land the cliff-side of the Road
From the Pilgrim Shelter to Sidestrand Church there were five Plantations and 23 fields, some small and others bigger. All the fields had hedges, banks and trees. Some fields on the low ground were wet so they had ditches around them which drained a lot of water which went under the road and drained away. Now there are about 5 fields. Years ago a lot of land had drain pipes which ran to the cliffs. Most of these pipes got ploughed out when deep ploughing was done by tractor. Think of all the water which the trees and hedges soaked up. I know the big machinery which is used on the farms today is the reason why there are such big fields – so there are fewer hedges to cut or drains to dig now, which used to take several men weeks to do. All the fields mentioned – I have worked on most of them.
When Trimingham first got water in the village there was a big tank that stood high on a big metal frame. The water supplied the houses for the first time and it was great not to have to carry pails of water for drinking and cooking. For washing clothes we used soft water from a tank which collected it from the roof of the house. Some people had a well with a pump. Before the water came to the village, we all went to the Village Pump which was fed from the spring. The Tank was at the top of Middle Street. People from the top end, such as Middle Street and as far as Beacon Hill, got their water from the Pump opposite the Crown & Anchor, and Church Street got their water from a pump at the top of my garden.
Farming and Fishing
Each Farm kept cows, and some of the milk they delivered around the village. A lady from Church Farm delivered by bicycle – she had gallon cans on her handlebars and she would go up to the door and asked how much was wanted. She would then ladle out of the cans into the customer’s jug. Another Farmer did the same, but he had a pony and trap – no health checks then! We had several fishermen in the village. In those days they used to carry the boats onto the beach for the season and then bring them back up the cliffs for the winter and paint them for the next season. When you think those boats were made of wood and iron, it was a lot of weight to carry up and down the cliffs.
Father Frank was the first tractor driver in the village. He worked for Mr Chris Harrison of Hall Farm. Mr Harrison bought an International W30 and it took over from the horses jobs such as ploughing and cultivating. At that time of day the tractor had all iron wheels with spuds on the back wheels to grip. Dad was ploughing on the low ground which had a wet patch into which the tractor sank. The more he tried to get out, the further he sank. Dad had to leave the tractor stuck all night. The next day a bus driver brought some heavy jacks and wood and eventually the tractor came out and Dad started to do the ploughing again. That was the pleasure of tractor driving!
We used to play in the street because there were only five cars in the village. We had a good railway: to Cromer one way and the other way to North Walsham and Norwich. It was a lovely way to travel, to look around the shops and come home. Also by rail the milk from the farms would be in 17 gallon churns and go to the Milk Marketing Board in Norwich. It was a lot of weight to carry down the steps onto the platform and on to the train. We also had a coal yard which delivered coal around the villages, and a lot of the cattle would go by rail to Norwich Market. In those days, we had a school, a hotel, and a chapel which were well attended. We also had a fish monger who went around delivering the fish which he got off the train from Yarmouth and Lowestoft. He smoked his own herring.
I worked on a Dairy Farm at Sidestrand and we had a great herd of cows. We had three bulls on the field – they all had a ring in the nose and a mask over the face. I was left on the farm on my own looking after everything. There were builders working in the farmhouse while the farmer was on holiday. One day one of the bulls lost its mask, so I asked one of the builders if I caught the bull would he help me. He said, “No way will I come on the field where the bulls are!” So I asked if he would stand behind the hedge, which he did. I managed to catch the bull and he handed the mask through the hedge and I got it put back on and safe back over the field stile.
As a child I never went to a hairdresser – a local man used to cut it, my uncle who lived opposite the Church. Other hairdressers were Icky Riseborough at Sidestrand and Arthur Amiss who lived near the old Crown & Anchor. Later we used to go to the Crown & Anchor to have a hair cut. Later we used to go to the Pilgrim Shelter where it was cut by Billy Dunham, who came from Southrepps. When he stopped, Leonard Bennett, also from Southrepps, took over and he came to the house. Now Julie from the School House, just across the road from me, comes and does it and I have to pay so much for a search fee!
Before I got the lorry, I was in construction gangs of about twenty men. The work involved widening the roads and making new footpaths. In the winter the work was gritting icy roads, which meant getting up at 3.30am and continuing until the roads were all gritted. Sometimes it meant that we worked very long hours, not getting home for over 12/15 hours. Before I worked for Norfolk County Council, I worked at Ivy Farm, Sidestrand, and one of the winter jobs I did was gritting, but then it was with a tractor and trailer. I would drive the tractor and a man from the Council would stand on the trailer and spread the sand or salt on the road. He had the warmer job, as the tractor I drove had no cab.
Alec’s Mardle for 2016
One morning when I went to work on the farm they said to me, you are in the cow house today helping the Vet as all the cows are being dehorned, i.e. having their horns removed. The first thing to be done was put a clove hitch on top of the cow’s head, which was a tourniquet to stop the blood. The Vet then injected the head to numb it, after which he would test to make sure it was numb. Then we used a hack-saw and sawed the horns off – not a nice job. Nowadays the calves’ horns are done when they are a few days old, when they are burnt off with caustic soda.
As you drive up and down the Street, look at the gardens – they are all grass and flower-beds. Years ago they would be all full of vegetables for the family to live on. There were not many lawn mowers in the village then. At the top of the garden several houses kept pigs, poultry and rabbits. Some had a pig killed for their own use and eggs were for the table and to bake with. The rabbits were sold for extra money – they were tame ones. In the winter my Dad, Uncle and I on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning went rabbiting with the ferrets around the farms. We ate some, which was a good meal; the others were sold to villagers for one old penny each.
When I started work at Hall Farm for Mr Harrison, we worked with horses. My Dad drove the tractor. We used to go in the field at 7.30am until 4.30pm, a long day, walking up and down the fields. When the sugar beet started, Dad drove a standard Ford tractor which carted the beet into Station Yard. Dad let me drive on the field when I was fourteen years old. Later in life I drove Fordson, Fordson Major, David Brown, and Nuffield Ferguson tractors. The first one was all petrol, and then later models used to start on petrol and when it got warm you switched over to oil. Then it was all diesel, which it still is. I done the ploughing, cultivation, drilling, anything that was to be done on the land – also driving a combine.
During the War the cliffs were mined between Sidestrand and Mundesley. There was a barbed wire barrier across the beach at both ends and along the cliff top and another one about 50 yards inland from the cliff top. There were signs all the way along it saying “DANGER MINES – KEEP OUT”. The beach had no access for several years. The land mines came in twos bolted together for transport. They were stored on top of the cliff behind the Pilgrim Shelter. The Royal Engineers took them apart and put them in the cliffs. They put the detonators in them and wired in a phase of 8. It was terrific when they exploded. This did a lot of harm to the cliff and also to some properties. When they tried to clear them, they tried washing them out: they had big generators on the beach pumping thousands of gallons of sea water into the cliffs, but this was not successful so in the end they used mine detectors.
Christmas 2015 brought back a lot of memories about poultry. We used to buy day-old cockerels. We would put a hurricane lamp in the hut, and they huddled around it for warmth. Then at Christmas time they would be ready to be prepared for the table. My brother-in-law and I would start plucking about a fortnight before Christmas and my wife would draw them ready for the oven. They were long days as we would leave off from work, have our tea and work again until midnight. We were glad when it was all finished and we hoped for a cold spell so that they would keep well.
Up until 2015 I always enjoyed driving my various cars and towing my caravans (approximately 40 years) mainly to Scotland. Now I enjoy being chauffeured about and looking at the countryside as we travel along. The cars I have owned are:
Standard 12 1934 Black
Morris 8 1936 Blue
Vauxhall 12 1936 Grey
Ford Poplar 8 1961 Fawn
Ford Anglia 960 1963 Blue
V. Beetle 1200 1970 White
Maxi 1700 Green
Escort 1300 Red
Allegro 1300 White
4 Ford Cortinas Blue, Bronze, Two Tone Green & Red
6 Volvos 2 Red, Maroon, 3 Blue
2 Citroens Grey, Mediterranean Blue
1 Peugeot Black
My caravans were:
Sprite Cadet, Monza, Ace Diplomat, Fleetwood, Thompson, Cornish and 4 Edliss.
The Pilgrim Shelter has served the Village well. At first it was a Men’s Club, and then a lady lived in part of it for two years. It was a Post Office and also used as a Doctor’s Surgery. Now it is made full use of with activities. When it was just a Men’s Club all the social events were held in the old School. When the Pilgrim Shelter was built, all the traffic went past it, but then the new road was made. The old road was then quiet and good to take the dog for a walk. I can remember the day the Pilgrim Shelter was opened and it has served Trimingham well.
I think the water supply came into the village late 1950. Before that we went to the village pump to get our drinking water. You did not waste it then as some of the pumps were a good distance to walk and carry the water home. The water for washing came from a pump in the garden or water butts. The water butts were filled with rain from the roof of the premises. Before it went into the water butts there was an old sock tied to the spout of the water trough to stop the dirt from going into the butt, and there was the same thing on the water pump. If you got a dry time the wells in the garden would run dry – the same with the water butts. Then you had to get all the water from the drinking water pumps. The drinking water was hard water; the water from the water butts and garden wells was soft water, which was a lot better for washing, and also to wash all the clothes in.
Electricity came into the village in 1935. It was the farms and tied cottages that got it first. Probably the Landlord paid for it. The ordinary rented cottages had to pay for it themselves, which some could not afford. When I lived at home, we had a paraffin lamp in the middle of the table which lit the room, and it also had heat coming from it. When we went to bed we had a candle in a candlestick and had to carry it upstairs. Sometimes it would blow out and you would be left in the dark. They were the good days. As the years went by everyone had electricity as there was more money to earn during the war.
When I went to school, on a Saturday during the Shooting Season I would go beating. We would go just as it was getting daylight to stop the birds from escaping on to someone else’s land. I would go along to the Rome or The Grove, which was on the road from Sidestrand to Southrepps. The land for shooting belonged to the Rev Arthur Buxton. They would start shooting about 9.30am. We would join in with them when they joined up with us. We would have our dinner near Keeper’s Cottage, which is no longer there, was in the Woodland Caravan Site and owned by the Harrison family. Us boys got 3 shillings and the men got 6 shillings a day.
Food during the Second War: living in the country we were lucky as we grew our own vegetables. We kept chickens for eggs too and also ate the poultry. Food for the chickens was not easy to get. If you worked on a farm, you got extra rations for haymaking and harvest. You had to have your tea in the fields. The extra rations were for sugar, tea and flour – every little helped. During the War we lived on spam, and you could also get dried egg, which we had never heard of before the War. It was not an easy life; every house was in darkness from the outside. If a little light was seen you would be had up as the Police were always on the look out, which was quite right.
When I started work on the farm in 1940, it was all horse work. We used to get the horses ready with harnesses on, and when it came to putting on the collar some horses would lift their heads up so high I could not reach, so I had to stand in the manger. When we were ready we would go off in the fields for the day with a bag of hay for the horses for their dinner. I would sit on the bank and have my dinner. The work could be harrowing, rolling, drilling manure or carrying muck, which was set about the fields in heaps and later spread by fork and ploughed in. If it was wet I would have a sack on my shoulders and one around my waist to keep dry – no waterproofs in those days.
Letter from Alec
I would like to thank the people who live at No 16 Church Street. It was an awful night and I sat indoors by the fire and watched a great firework display through my window. It lasted half an hour or more and it was fantastic. Thank you. To think when I was small it was Little Demons, Jumping Jacks and Catherine Wheels, all very small compared with today – they would last about 5 minutes!