First published in "Norfolk Fair" magazine - November/December 1967
THE overcast sky was breaking up on a late September Monday morning as I drove over wet roads, patchy with the first fall of autumn leaves, towards North Walsham for the second of my Market Place strolls.
If you have any acquaintance with North Walsham then you will know Randells. Mr. Michael Randell informed me that his great-great-great grandfather James Randell founded the business in 1820. Since that date continued development has taken place, the most recent being the opening two years ago of a shop, also in the Market Place, that specialises in the sale and service of horticultural machinery.
My next call was upon Hancock, the watchmakers and jewellers. Mr. Hancock, very well known locally, took over this long established business in 1929 from a Mr. A. E. Porter, and his sales message to me was quite matter of fact. He sells both Rolex and Timex watches and with every respect to both manufacturers one cannot offer a larger selection than that.
Nearly on the same side of the Market Place is Marjoram Brothers, Men's Outfitters, and I found Mr. H. W. Rayner pleased to chat about his business between serving customers, two of whom happened to be acquaintances of mine from the "other" Walsham ! In 1901 the late Frederick Marjarom established what was to become such a successful business that on taking over in 1946 Mr. Rayner decided to perpetuate the name, a name that is appreciated locally by everyone who has a good taste in clothes.
On now to J. V. Newson Ltd., whose shop displays a wonderful range of television sets and radios, electrical goods of all types and, rather unsual for this type of shop, a comprehensive range of optical and photographic equipment. Mr. Newson was involved in both radio and television before broadcasting began in either medium and he still holds a transmitting licence.
Across now to Leeders, the well-known stationers and booksellers. Another tidy shop which, under the energetic management of Mr. T. B. Johnson, seems to be going through a continuous process of expansion. Christmas shoppers will be delighted with the selection and especially the new toy department on the first floor where the wide range should satisfy any child.
Of course, you will know Farmans the Thatchers. This firm came to North Walsham nearly 90 years ago and over the years have exported not only its Norfolk reed thatching service but also the many types of tenching for which it has become famous. Thatching to Long Island, U.S.A., and Bird Tables for Switzerland—hcw's that for diversity ?
In my Market Place strolls I enjov meeting personalities and of those I met in North Walsham I will always remember Mrs. E. Gyton at North Walsham Furnishing Company. This elderly lady, always busily knitting when not serving customers, still puts in a full day's work, but I am not revealing her age. Behind the shop in Vicarage Street her two sons repair and re-upholster furniture of any period, a service for which they have become well-known over a wide area.
Now for a shop where I felt the greatest impulse to make a purchase—Webbs at 28 The Market Place. Fishing tackle, guns and ammunition, sports goods and pet supplies with an angler in the person of Mr. R. Webb in attendance. Mr. Webb has developed the fishing tackle side to such a degree that his customers include holidaymakers from all over the country who pre-order their requirements and then collect on arrival in this angler's paradise.
Number 12 Market Place must be one of the busiest addresses in North Walsham early each morning, for it is here that Mr. Collins, newsagent, directs the two dozen or so boys who deliver newspapers all over the town, another service most of us take for granted. Like every good newsagent, Mr. Collins sells stationery, greetings cards, all offered with the personal service he extends to everyone.
Did you know that North Walsham can claim a member of the Institute of Patentees and Inventors ? It is Mr. Griffin, who, to the majority of people, is engaged in the sale and service of cycles, radios and electrical goods, but whose real interest is electronics. Mr. Griffin has developed and patented an amplifier with an unusual frequency response control and I understand a number of these amplifiers are installed in public halls in the area.
Mr. Thompson was busy dressing the window when I walked in Jeary's the tobacconists and confectioners, and this gave me time to notice that here one can really pander to the sweet-tooth of all ages. No pre-packed shilling-a-bag, take-it-or-leave-it confectionery. Mr. Thompson confirmed that he specialises in English and Continental liqueurs, while for the smoker there is a wonderful range of pipes, lighters and cigars.
The afternoon was wearing away and I decided to make two more calls on the way home, the first for petrol, so I chose Harmer and Scott. I asked for the principal and was directed to the office, where I found a very energetic Mr. Webber. Looking at a clutter-free workshop I could not help noticing an array of equipment which, in the hands of experienced engineers, makes the servicing of the modern motor car a comparatively simple and straight-forward task. Harmer and Scott are the Rootes Agents for North Walsham where cars with such well-known names as Humber, Hillman and Sunbeam are well displayed.
From fine products of man, to beautiful products of Nature— Roses . . . Le Grice Roses. Nearly 50 years ago Mr. E. B. Le Grice commenced business on a 10-acre field where roses and fruit trees were the main crops. Today from 57 acres of nursery crop Mr. Le Grice (a Vice-President of the Royal National Rose Society) is justifiably proud that his roses are famous and are grown throughout the world.
I started my second day by calling on North Walsham Garage on New Road, and Mr. W. W. Parrott who has managed this business since it was bought by Delves of Norwich in 1957. Previously these premises were owned by Bickertons the agricultural engineers, but today as Vauxhall/Bedford main dealers, North Walsham Garage offers the full Delves service to motorists over a wide area of North Norfolk.
Back through the Market Place with its now familiar fascias to the Mundesley Road and Broadland Wineries. Mr. Bruno Engelhard and his son Mr. P. S. Engelhard are members of a German family whose connection with wine-making go back to 1580. Here in North Walsham their main speciality is apricot wine, but they also make cherry wine, red and white Vermouths, a ruby wine and a type of sauterne. Mr. Engel-hard's old business in Leipzig was confiscated by the Russians, although Mr. Engelhard himself is no stranger to these shores.
From a new industry to one close by that has served the town for over 20 years—Websters Shoe Service. What an interesting story Mr. Webster had to tell. Briefly, he holds a Saddlers Certificate, Class I, obtained during the First World War, and during the last war he held the rank of Saddler Sgt.
in the King's Own Yorkshire Dragoons. Mr. Webster repairs every type of modern footwear.
Further out on the Mundesley Road I pulled into Hadfield Market Gardens to meet Mr. J. W. Pegge. Now I had never heard of the Norfolk Royal Apple but Mr. Pegge assured me that from the late 19th century this apple was grown in these gardens. Today, under modern management, production is devoted solely to flower and vegetable plants with an annual output exceeding half-a-million.
Back again into town and Church Street and Masons Footwear. In this shop is 110 years of footwear experience, personified by Mr. E. Mason and his still-active father. Mr. Mason has spent his whole working life in the shoe-trade and this experience has earned him a reputation for the careful fitting of shoes, especially children's. So if you consider that comfort is as important as style then pop in to Masons.
R. Edmonds and Son, Ironmongers and Distributors to the Building and Agricultural Trades, as their letterhead states, are comparative newcomers to the Market Place. Established in 1950 and managed by Mr. R. J. Askew, this is a branch of the Company whose head office is in Stalham, at what was prior to 1927 a Post Office. Today the business is run by Mr. J. R. Edmonds, son of the founder.
Possibly because I am married with three children that I felt not too out of place in the shop with the down-to-earth name—East Anglian Sewing Equipment. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes, after a short seven months in business, offer to the home dressmaker a range of goods and services that have to be seen to be believed. Sewing machines, exquisite Swiss lace, nylon ruffles, dress material, just to mention a few items. I would re-name the shop "North Walsham Sewtique" !
My final call was on North Walsham Steam Laundry whose vans are seen collecting and delivering over a very wide area. The Laundry was founded in 1900 and from one small building it has progressed to one of the largest in East Anglia. Using the most modern machinery, this Company offers a really first-class laundry and dry cleaning service.