North Walsham & District Community Archive

Memories of Russell Sparke - November 2020

Memories of Russell Sparke - November 2020

I was born at Lyngate farm Bacton road in 1933. Our neighbours in one of two farm cottages were Mr & Mrs Lee tenant farmers. Lyngate House the original farmhouse was occupied by F R Bell and family, Solicitor. At the age of five we moved to Brunswick Bungalow nearer Bacton road when it became available, property of the Wooll family of Brunswick House situated lower down Bacton road incorporating land from the loke to the right Hamlet House looking North, to Bluebell pit (now Pond) I then started school at Manor road infants. Recall teachers Misses Spelman and Bowman Victorian types wearing black and lace collars, Miss England and Mrs Ryder. Mother took me to a mattinee at Regal Cinema to see The Wizard of Oz with a supporting Westem all black and White of course. Later I joined the Cubs with the redoubtable Miss Gladys Smith as Old wolf “the cub gives in to the Old wolf the cub does not give in to himself’ Later I joined the Choir at St Nicholas‘ Church, Choir Master Mr Wright, School Master at Worstead . Was Confrmed there at the age of twelve. This recorded in the Parish Magazine copy of which I have donated to Heritage Centre .My playmates at Bacton road, Crow Road and Mundesley road included Tom and Mary Cutting of the Mundesley road stores (Mr Billy Cuttting and family) Others known to me include the Missses Wooll our landladies living in Brunswick House now requisitioned together with paddock on Bacton road by the Military, the Davison family on Mundesley road Freddy and Tony, George Hedge and Freddy proprietors of the garage on Mundesley road, later Billy Pank, Motorway Tyres and Griffin. My father’s relations, Aunt Marion living in Elsinor, bungalow on Mundesley road next door to Frank Thurling RAF Association Member, his Mother, Sister and brother Florrie and Ted at No.1 Lyngate road then sometimes called Harvey Lane. Later I had friends from school who visited including Raymond Hewitt. I had a friend, Peter Fenton, who lived with his aunt and uncle on Bacton road and later was at Paston School a year above me. Just after the war I had two more friends, Tom Newnham, who was at Woodene School Overstrand with John Newland who lived on Crow Road. We used to play ball games on the Paddock previously an Army Camp part of Brunswick House property. Also Roller Skating in Crow road, nice and smooth and no traffic other than the occasional Army vehicle.

More about schooldays. Growing up, I used to walk by myself up Bacton Road past only two or three old gaslamp posts unused during blackout Plumbly & Gazes‘ yard with steam rollers and living vans, between fields on left, allotments on right up hill through Cemetaries to Randells’ foundry (generally known as such but in fact much more being Agricultural engineers and machinery dealers) past yard and buildings on left opposite formally Burrell & Craske, Carriers and Funeral vehicles on to Kimberley road on left then to Limetree road actually had these trees then. No pavements on any road yet but one on left behind trees to Hall lane turning left towards Manor road school. I believe now we entered school at front on Manor road. I describe this journey because it was my regular and only excursion in the town proper. I never went elsewhere unless shopping with mother, my recreation was solely near home including across fields to Little London and thence to marshes alongside canal possibly returning via Mundesley rd and Crow Road Another time I would go to my Grandmother’s in Lyngate road and over the railway bridge. My point in all this is to emphasise I was never a ‘town boy‘ thus have never been in either Dog Yard, Ship yard and old beer court.

About school itself obviously first infants then junior, this was in wartime and we all carried gas masks which we hated to put on in practice. Schoolroom equipment was very basic and mostly of Victorian design, but degraded still and quality of paper and pencils was of utility standard. No one used anything except basic pens with inkwells, possible crayon and the use of blotting paper was universal I don’t remember ever going into the Senior school premises. We had a hard playground. I did enjoy school dinners which had to be paid for with mother giving us the necessary. I think these were served in the gymnasium with the kitchen in the top left hand comer. I recall listening to the landings on D Day on a radio left on loud in kitchen one of the last dinners we had, leaving school in July. I have attached a list of pupils remembered in my class (see further down). Town boys going with me to the Paston school incuded, again from memory, Eric Myhill, Edmund Curties, Gordon Ward & Dennis Lee. Apologies for omissions. Church attendance was introduced by my Mother who had been cook at the Vicarage in the 20’s and a regular worshipper Joining the Choir for Matins and Evensong and Sunday School in afternoon in the Church rooms, Also on F otmder’s Day at Paston with other boys from Cromer & Sheringham for example. Cubs included meetings in St Nicholas rooms and in fine weather on the lawn at the Cedars home of Gladys Smith. Also joining parades in the town for Rememberence Sunday. I never became a Scout. At Paston I joined the ATC section when old enough There was a rifle range (covered) behind the swimming pool equipped with .22 rifles which I enjoyed using. A trifle less frightening than the .303 rifles during National Service. Paston staff then included Maj or Pickford, Headmaster, George Hare, Miss Lumb, Vic Mannering (french), Mr Smith(latin), Father Snowden and Major Britain (history) Equipment for sports was all pre-war and in poor condition. The swimming pool was disused and formed a reservoir for the Fire Services. Schooltimes included Saturday mornings with Wednesday afternoons for sport which you were supposed to attend. Should have included in account of Church connection Revd. Chase and Revd. Bradshaw were the Ministers during my time in the Choir. Events in ATC included two trips to RAF Coltishall in a Bedford QL truck RAF vehicle each time according to my record of Service (which itself also included that in the RAF) we had a short flight in an Avro Anson of station flight. We wore a parachute with no instructions for use which I sat on on the floor whilst one of our chaps sat next to the pilot. I remember managing not to be sick but landing was worse in this discomfort. On one of these occasions we each had a ‘flight’ in a link trainer which good fun as we treated this as as joyride which would have disqualified us competent in flying training. On to pastimes and entertaimnent. Father and myself played dominoes (threes and fives) recorded on a pegboard , Father was an enthusiast for this game, extolling the virtues of a double set (which we did not have) Mine was the usual 28 piece single version. Also two hand whist. At Christmas around at aunt’s We would have four hand games. Draughts another favourite. We did not have a radio at home.Aunt and Uncle bought a battery/ Accumulator set in 1939/40 so that Grandma could hear the news of the war. Uncle Ted had been in the Norfolk Regiment in the first world war in the Middle East fighting the Turks. Don’t think he was at the seige of Kurkut. Father and I always went to 1 Lyngate road on Sundays before I joined the Choir and afterwards on other occasions. Programmes recalled included Happidrome, Much binding in the Marsh (a fictional RAF station) ITMA with Tommy Handley, Two-way family favourites with London studio and the equivalent in BAOR (the forces’ equivalent in Westem Germany. Other programmes enjoyed wherever there was a radio included The Palm Court Orchestra supposedly in a London hotel, Henry Hall’s Guest Night, Victor Sylvester Strict Tempo band With leading piano and violin ( every school of dancing we attended in latter years had his 78 rpm records) , Old Mother Riley and Kitty and many others. This account finishes after 1950 but Wilfred Pickles and Have a go was another within this period. Then comes the move to Fairview Rd. Electricity, Rayburn Cooker with boiler for hot water, Bathroom and indoor toilet. Luxury! School finishing July 1949. Job obtained at Randell’s Works Bacton Road. in works office. Joining Youth Club after leaving school initially at Manor Road School in Gymnasium. Recall a Mr Grant, Youth Officer of Norfolk Education Committee or something like that. Mr. Donald Watson was Warden perhaps then but certainly after the move to Park Lane. The evening classes held at Manor Rd included a dancing class which most Youth Club members attended learning the three basics Quickstep, Foxtrot and Waltz. Dances were arranged on Saturday Night for Youth Club Members in particular but probably not exclusively. In these lighting and sound were rigged up by John Roper, then an apprentice at Panks of Norwich. These Saturday Night dances were similarly arranged at other Youth Clubs at Aylsham, Sprowston and perhaps Cromer. Transport was supplied by Black Cat andjor Starlings Coaches. Events in the town included floodlit Cycle Polo possibly from Buxton on the Recreation road football ground. There I was to meet life-long friend Ray Taylor. His parents lived at 40 Norwich road. After his marriage in l96O was Best Man at his wedding in Hertfordshire. We kept up contact and many were the visits I made raking his parents to Stoke Poges where he lived. The event on the football ground was pan of Battle of Britain Week regularly held in September for several years. Many other friends I made then and later in the Youth Club. Mr George Howard became a part-time Warden thereafter when Mr Watson was appointed elsewhere. I did enjoy late ‘40 and 1950 having left school and meeting many other friends. We all had bikes and a little money so it was biking to work, Bacton and Mundesley beaches included. You could leave your bike anywhere unlocked. Speedway the great interest then. On release from school and getting job in August 1949 main inerests became motorbikes therefore Speedway came in here Norwich at the Firs Stadium on Cromer road named after the pub across the road and featuring names like Bert Spencer, Paddy Mills, Jack Freeman, Phil Clarke and Ted Bravery. Other venues in the National league at Belle Vue (Manchester) Haringay, Wimbledon and Wembley (London) names like Jack and Norman Parker, Bill Kitchen and Tommy Price featured there. Another huge interest then was Cinema and also Ballroom Dancing. Remembering bands such as Ted Heath and his music, Oscar Rabin Orchestra, Jack Parnell, Tommy Dorsey Ken Mackintosh, Geraldo and Henry Hall. BBC Home Service for News at six O’Clock and the light programme for entertainment. This included Paul Temple and Steve (detective stuff) Dick Barton Special Agent ditto. Comedy including Ray’s a laugh (Ted Ray) Arthur Askey (Ithankyou) The Huggetts (Jack Warner) and Life with the Lyons Beebe Daniels and Ben Lyon (a Canadian) I have exhausted my memory which is‘nt what it was and the time—scale may be adrift but enjoy it if you can. A few more come to mind. The situation after the war as far as it affected us young people was perhaps different than for older. There was shortage of the sweets icecreams and treats we knew before the war were not immediately available. Rationing continued into the fifties, indeed clothing for one thing still on coupons. We did not have the daily changes as children do today, You wore school blazer and flannel shorts, same shoes seven days a week. Plimsoles were worn on dry sunny days at play Who remembers Yo-Yo’s‘? Cord wound on a bobbin which when released re-wound itself. There were still spinning tops with whip to keep them spinning. Hoops with sticks to beat them along. Skipping ropes for girls primarily but used by boxers in training. Girls in playground sometimes had one girl each end twirling a long rope while others jumped into it off and on. Another game involved hitting a short piece of wood laid on a pivot with a stick at the high end when it would fly off forward and you counted the distance travelled. I forget the name. What about Rounders‘? A junior form of Baseball the American game. Children played in the street everywhere then. Trafffic was light and mostly on main roads. Speaking of which most cars were black with chrome bumpers, semaphore indicators and leather upholstery the smell of which made me feel sick. Generally if one had a car it was kept in a garage. Nothing parked in the garden or in the street. Horsedrawn Milkcarts and small delivery vans with bread, meat and fish ( specialised) calling regularly especially in villages. Old Moore’s Almanack giving predictions and all kinds of Astrological information. Believe this was sold door to door. Recall first pop song I ever heard was over at Whitlingham with my cousins, Judy Garland singing the Trolley Song ‘ Clang Clang Clang went the Trolley’ about a girl on a bus in America meeting a man wearing a ‘light brown Derby‘ which was a hat.

1949 and 1950 were a time of change for me Leaving school in July 49 and getting job in the office and Randells’ St Nicholas Works on Bacton Road. Site now all Sainsbury’s. It was a totally different experience. Only job I ever had was a paper boy at Leeders (now Sams Pets) in the holiday possibly Easter. I did not take to that at all. 1950 was probably the happiest time. We had a little money and a bike. Bought this Raleigh from Curry’s I think about £15. Rode it to the Speedway once just to see if I could before and after had been with Mr Bernard Newnham and son Tom. A great interest in the sport existed then as I have said. We took the weekly Magazine also the Motorcycle (blue) and Motorcycling (green) After call up in April 1951 still a member of the Youth Centre Donald Watson sent me a Christmas Card. Kept in touch with Youth Centre by then with George Howard as part-time Warden when home on leave. By this time Ray Taylor, John Ellis and Ray Parrot had aquired transport, four of them had Corgis a Brockhouse product based on the folding type made to be dropped with Paratroopers during the war. Who remembers them? I remember four of them used to ride two abreast one pair behind the other. No safety helmets but a raincoat nearly touching the road. Happy days, never to return.

Randells social - oaks - 1954 or 1955
Randell's social at The Oaks, North Walsham. 1954 or 1955.
Left to Right: Timmy Rodgers, Brenda Mace, Mrs Rodgers, Russell Sparke (best looking!), Peter Westrupp, Mrs Joan Westrupp, Herbert Duffield, Mrs Duffield, Joy Colby, Reggie Colby.

Mundesley 1950s
Mundesley 1950s.
Left to Right: Keith Brown, Russell Sparke, Lionel Ponder, Barry Mason, Ray (Rex) Ward.

 

[Russell Sparke - November 2020]