North Walsham & District Community Archive


Lets start with my grandparents. Sadly I only knew one – my maternal gran (EDITH PYCROFT nee Earl): she was a grumpy old thing! She lived with my aunt Dolly (DOROTHY BUCK nee Pycroft) in a terrace in-between The New Road and Hall Lane, called “LOADES BUILDINGS”? Her near neighbour was a family called BEAUCHAMP – that rings a bell! The houses were quite big, and had a front and a rear garden, where there was a flush toilet! They had gas but no electric; I can see Aunt Dolly lighting the gas mantle with a loud “pop.” They had a radio worked from a battery called an accumulator. It had to be “charged up” at a local garage.

Gran gave me a small tin which contained a small ribbon bar (from medals) and a piece of very sharp shrapnel – which took my Grandad’s arm away; I still have it. Grandad Pycroft (ARTHUR PYCROFT) had been born in Worstead and was buried there in 1927. He had been a brickie before WW1 and with only one arm, could not work – a sad end! He served in WW1 the same time as his eldest son, Jack, who was later on the staff of the Canning factory.

My paternal grandad (HERBERT RISEBROW) was born in Northrepps (RISEBROW/RISBOROUGH “country”) but he was trained in North Walsham as a blacksmith by ERNIE TURNER in the smithy just through the arch at the top of Market Street, into Mitre Tavern Yard … not only did he learn his trade but he also married the boss’s daughter (HARRIET TURNER)!

They moved to Southrepps and set up as the blacksmith there. He not only looked after the horses’ footwear but also repaired the farm machines. Mum said he also made gates but there is no record of this? Grandad Risebrow also died in 1927 (within a fortnight of Grandad Pycroft.) Grandad Pycroft had 8 children who survived; Grandad Risebrow had 4. There were several who did not ….

My dad had an aunt who lived just around the corner (off North Street) in Vicarage Street: LOUISA (nee Turner) with her husband BOARDMAN HEDGE, next door to the “slaughter-house” – they are called abattoirs these days! They had a daughter, Ivy, who I think was a land-girl in WW1. She died young, aged just 20 yrs in 1923; my cousin Grace remembered having rides on Ivy’s lap in her wheelchair….


My first visit was made aged 7 for tonsils (out.) I can only remember waking up after surgery in the children’s ward in a cot with the sides up, sticking to the rubber sheet I was lying on …. (having tonsils out was a messy business!)

Aged 11 and I had just started at the Paston School …. after months of pain and misdiagnosis I was rushed to the hospital; my appendix had nearly burst! I was away for about a fortnight. That has always been my excuse for not doing well at my lessons! Two nice things from this episode – the young nurse called Joy who gave me a big hug and said that I had been “a good patient.” And, the boys and masters of Paston School sent me a storybook … I still have it. I still get quite emotional thinking about that……

Some years later, visiting relations, my son fell into an unguarded fire and we rushed him to the hospital where his hand was treated by BETTY ELLIS (Betty is roughly my age, born c.1934/1935: our mums pushed us out in our prams together.)

While I was recovering in North Walsham from my 1955 motor-cycle accident some folks might remember me “hanging about” town with my plastic “arm-rest” (about 1958.) I was “on the club” but later “on the dole” – I think I had to draw the money from Bank Loke?


My sister had a “Fairy Cycle” (with solid tyres and only one brake.) She was about 5/6 yrs and me about 2/3 yrs? One day she left it on the street – “Great!” I thought. I got on it (my first time) … I was facing downhill! I went faster and faster, over the main Mundesley Road (not much traffic then), was slowed down by the shingle in the “egg depot” yard, and was stopped by the wall – phew, bike and me all in one piece!

The egg depot yard was often used for a small bonfire on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night. One year, after the war, it went off with a bigger bang than usual – some “scallies” had put a “thunder-flash” in the fire – stolen I expect from the Home Guard Armoury? Never heard any more about it!

When I was old enough, I was entrusted to “pay the papers”: they were from a little shop in Church Street (MR ARNOLD PITCHER, I think.) Mum had “Woman” magazine and us kids had comics such as “Jingles” and “Tiny Tim?” Later my sister had “film” magazines and I had “The Adventure” – with stories! The daily paper was the Daily Express and the Sunday paper was The News of the World. What I remember quite clearly was that, in the loo, the “squares” of the Express were hard and had to be “scrunched” in the hands to make them soft! The News of the World squares were softer and the reading was more exciting!

How could I have forgotten the shop I had to visit when in North Street? “Muffy Kim” kept a shop on the corner of North and Vicarage Streets. She sold everything … at least I thought so! …. Sweets, spuds, paraffin, fags etc. I bought fags for my folks; usually “Players Weights”, later “Turf.” I cut out the cards of sports people and collected them; cigarette card collecting became a “craze”; later I had amassed several albums full (or nearly.) Much later these albums got sold but I still have some loose cards. I was also a collector of stamps, coins, cigarette packets and milk badges etc: alas none of them of much value! But they gave me a lot of pleasure and information about other countries etc.


At the right age I joined the cubs who met in the “church rooms” just inside the cemetery. They met once a week and I was in the “Greys” and was later to become the “sixer!” The Akela/Cub Master was the lovely Miss GLADYS SMITH wearing her khaki dress and boy scouts hat. Miss Smith was the manageress of the T.S.B. (National Savings) branch.

Above the bank was my dentist …. I remember going for a tooth out, with the dentist saying, “now, count to ten…….” (I never got above four!)

Gordon S Risebrow, March, 2018
(with thanks to Diana Velhagen for the transcription)