Kirkby to Norwich
In 1960, we moved as a family from Kirkby to Norwich. As early as 1957, dad had been looking and applying for other jobs in insurance (see Chapter 72). In February 1960, he went for an interview about a job in Manchester. However, he decided not to take it. But, then, in June 1960, he was offered the post of chief clerk in the Norwich branch of the Norwich Union. He accepted it. Officially, he started there on 1 August 1960.
41 Diamond Avenue
At the start of 1960, mum, dad and Tricia still lived in 41 Diamond Avenue. I was born here in June 1960 (see Chapter 75). Shortly after hearing of dad’s new job, mum started packing. She put a notice in the window saying that they were selling the house. One day after the notice was placed, John and Isobel Lamb came to see the house. I think the family knew them from Trinity Methodist Church.
They expressed their interest. Then, they went ahead to buy it for the asking price of £1,650. This would be around £26,500 today. According to Zoopla, it is a three-bedroomed, semi-detached house. The property is currently worth around £112,000. It was sold in 1997 for £30,000, then in 2006 for £78,000 and twice in 2016, once for £91,500 and then for £80,000.
Grandad, however, expressed disappointment with the sale price. He noted that they had paid more than £1,800 for the house. The Lambs moved in on 20 August 1960.
We moved to Norwich a few weeks before this on 22 July 1960 when I was just six weeks old. The removal firm Pickfords collected our furniture the day before.
Mum and dad got two quotes for the move. Pickfords quoted £30 for the move plus 5/- per week storage. While Dakins quoted less for the move, £25, their storage charge was higher at 8/- per week. Dakins appear to have been a removal firm based in Nottingham but the company may have been dissolved. It seems that Dakins may have been taken over by TDG and merged with Stirlands and operated for a short time as Stirlands and Dakin.
We stayed overnight at grandma and grandad’s before travelling to Norwich on the 22nd by train. Grandma and grandad Drew, dad’s mum and dad, were in Norwich to meet us when we arrived. Grandma took me and Tricia for a walk in the afternoon while mum and dad unpacked.
Newmarket Road Flat
To start with, we lived in a flat at 91 Newmarket Road. However, in some of mum’s papers, it is referred to as 41 Newmarket Road but I think this is a mistake. The flat is one of a number in a building known as Albemarle House. This is located on the corner of Albemarle Road and Newmarket Road. It is close to Norwich Girls’ High School which Tricia later attended.
We only lived there for around six weeks until early September. So, of course, I have no recollection of it as I was only three months old when we moved from there. I vaguely knew we had spent a few weeks in a flat in Newmarket Road but I don’t think I was aware of precisely where. I didn’t know whether we were paying for the flat or if this was something provided by the Norwich Union. My suspicion was the latter. I am grateful to Mark Plunkett for explaining on the Norwich Remembers Facebook group that this property was actually owned by Norwich Union.
Buying a House
From the beginning, mum and dad were looking for a house to buy.
148 Middletons Lane Hellesdon
They did look at some other properties. However, they had identified the house we subsequently bought, 148 Middletons Lane in Hellesdon, within a week of moving to Norwich. It was on the market with an asking price of £2,150 and they agreed to buy it for £2,100.
Getting a Loan/Mortgage
After around two weeks, mum and dad’s loan offer came through.
Purchasing Items for the House
They purchased various items they needed for the house, including a cooker and fridge (see Chapter 84). They also bought various items from the then owner, Mr Jones. These items included the TV aerial for fifty shillings, the globes in the bathroom and kitchen for 12/6 each and the lino in the bathroom for £1. Mr Jones agreed that mum could visit the house on 19 August to measure for curtains. Indeed, he picked her up in his car to do this. On 18 August, dad signed the contract with an expected completion date of 7 September. He signed the mortgage agreement on 24 August.
Moving to Middletons Lane
Grandma and grandad came to Norwich on 6 September to help us move. Mr Jones moved out on the 7th and various preparations were then made including washing floors, putting curtains up, having the new fridge and cooker installed and laying lino and carpets. We moved in on 9 September 1960 when I was three months old and approximately six weeks after we had left Kirkby.
The move was done by Fitts. Online I found the story of a lorry driver who worked for some time with Pordage and Fitts in Ber Street. They were furniture removers and undertakers! There are some details of the business of Frederick William Fitt of Ber Street on the Norwich Remembers Facebook page including explanation that they provided furniture removals, coaches and buses and funerals. There are also a number of websites with pictures of an enamel sign for the company. In the 1960 and 1967 Kelly’s Directories, Fitt Brothers Ltd are listed as located at 67 Ber Street. Their name is still visible in the brickwork. Stevensons, school uniform outfitters, are now based at 67 Ber Street.
A Forgotten Pram
On the day we moved, mum noted that we forgot the pram. So, dad, who had had the day off, went back and walked the nearly four miles home with it and me and Tricia.
Further Work at the House
Various things still had to be done at the house after the move including laying more lino in the front room, dining room and pantry; painting various rooms including the dining room and my bedroom; demolishing the old coalhouse; and work on the kitchen including a new window, new drains, knocking down a wall, moving the door, new sink top and taps and re-tiling the floor. For some more details of items we purchased for the house during this period, see Chapter 76.
The Former Coalhouse
Prior to demolishing this, mum noted catching and killing a number of mice in the former coalhouse. I recall that throughout her life mum was terrified of mice. This might explain why she felt the need to kill the mice in the coalhouse rather than just leaving them be!
The sink top and taps came from from Ruymps, now Keyline. They are listed in the 1960 and 1967 Kelly’s Directories as builders’ merchants.
Too Much Plaster
In doing the plastering, mum noted that they made too much plaster so she and dad used the excess to make a step outside the French windows.
They had gas pipes laid to the house and had a gas Miser and radiator fitted. It is interesting to note that mum & dad and grandma & grandad had gas fires fitted at around the same time. Indeed, grandma and grandad’s dining room fire was fitted the day before mum and dad had their gas fire and radiator fitted.
Major Building and Renovation Work
Mum and dad carried out some fairly major building and renovation work at the house.
In 1961, they had sewers laid to the house. I am not sure if the house relied on a septic tank prior to that. In January 1961, mum and dad contracted a Mr Watts to lay sewers to the house. I am not sure exactly who this was but there is a J Watts & Son building contractor in Sprowston . Could this be them?
Work started in early February and was carried out in “the common lane” which I believe is the lane between 150 and 152 that reaches to the side of the park and is visible on Google satellite views. On Streetview, there is a manhole cover at the start of that lane and this may relate to that work. The work took three days and cost £27 10s.
Building an Extension
In 1961, they also had an extension built which included a garage and bedroom on the first floor. The extension was built by a Mr Stevenson at a cost of £650 which would be approximately £10,000 today.
Stevenson and Evans
The building firm mum and dad used was called Stevenson and Evans. The firm was formed in 1933 by Russell Evans and Claude Stevenson. Initially, mum and dad approached a Mr Johnson to do the work but, in early March, he wrote to them to say that he could not do this. Towards the end of March, a Mr Stevenson came to see about building “the garage etc”.
At the end of April, they received two quotes for doing the work. Stevenson and Evans quoted a price of £650 while Carters quoted £1,030. Unsurprisingly, mum and dad decided to go with Stevenson and Evans. So, on 2 May 1961, dad contacted them to get on with the plans. In mid-June, Mr Stevenson came to the house to discuss the final plans. Approval of these took some time with work starting in mid-November 1961. It was completed in around one month. The bedroom was plastered on 21 December 1961.
Approving the Plans
On 2 August 1961, dad phoned Mr Stevenson. Together they went to the Council, presumably to check on progress in approving the plans. They were told that the bylaws had passed the plans. However, the planning authorities were waiting for a response from the people building the bungalow next door, at 146, to see if they objected. Dad went to see the County Councillor who said he would help. Two weeks later, mum noted that their next-door neighbour, a builder, had objected to their extension. That night, dad phoned someone called Cleghorn. Initially, I was not sure who this was but I think he was a councillor (see Chapter 97). On 5 September 1961, Mr Stevenson received a letter from the Council asking mum and dad to wait until the 29th for a decision which they agreed to.
An Earlier Garage
It appears that, prior to building the extension, the house may have had a self-contained garage in the common lane between 150 and 152. It is still standing and, on Google satellite view, is labelled 148A. On 21 December 1961, just as the extension work was being finished, mum noted being paid £10 “for the garage” and this presumably relates to that.
Following the building of the extension, there was quite a lot of re-decorating carried out including of the new bedroom, the kitchen and the dining room and this lasted until the end of April 1962, just before Alan was born.
Furniture for the New Extension
It seems that some of the furniture for the new extension was bought by grandma and grandad when their friend and former neighbour Annie Holmes died. In January 1962, this furniture was delivered to Norwich by the removal firm Oldershaws (which grandad spelled as Aldershawes) of South Normanton. It appears that it started in 1960 and became the firm Transpakship.
I have quite a lot of memories of this house as this is essentially where I grew up during my pre-teenage years. I recall the outside, including the garden, and the location better than the inside and this may be because of later visits to Middletons Lane, not least as a “short cut” to Norwich Airport!
The Area of Hellesdon I Knew
The area I knew in Hellesdon was quite limited to the immediate environs of Middletons Lane. It stretched from Kinsale Avenue Primary School, which I later attended, some three-minutes-walk in one direction, to the shops on the corner of the roundabout on Reepham Road, a little further in the other direction.
The Newsagent at the Roundabout
I remember going there to a newsagent, on my own when I was about ten, on a Saturday evening to get a copy of the Pink Un football paper. Although the paper is no longer printed, the website has still been extremely active. However, it seems that may be changing to a paid-for app although, as of January 2022, the website appeared to be freely accessible. As of now, in April 2023, most articles remain freely accessible but there are a few available only to subscribers.
Tendency to Flood
I recall that the area of Middletons Lane outside our house used to flood during heavy rain and we used to watch cars going through the floods from our front windows.
A Row of Shops
I also recall Links Avenue and the row of shops on Middletons Lane just before Reepham Road.
The Community Centre
I recall the community centre (but not clearly the library!) down a narrow lane off Middletons Lane just before Reepham Road. It seems that that “entrance” to the community centre is now an exit only and that that lane is now one way with vehicular entrance from Wood View Road only. For more details of the community centre, see Chapter 79.
The Park Behind Our House
I very clearly recall the park attached to the community centre and that we could get to it through our back garden. However, when I visited some years ago as an adult it seemed much smaller than in my memory! I also recall football pitches and a cycle speedway track there.
In terms of the cycle speedway track in the park behind our house, it appears that it is no longer there. There is a wooded area where I think it was. It appears to have been used as the second track for the Norwich Stars cycle speedway team from around 1958 into the 1990s. Indeed, the World Cycle Speedway championships were held there in 1987. There is a video on YouTube and I believe our house is visible at 51.15 although we did not live there at that point!
Grandma and Grandad Decide to Move to Norfolk
The first mention of grandma and grandad moving to Norfolk, in either diary, was in mum’s diary in July 1963.
Looking for a Place to Build a House
There, she noted making enquiries about a house being built for grandma and grandad. In early August, grandad noted that they decided they wanted to move closer to mum and they visited Norfolk for the day to see the land mum had identified in Drayton. They were brought by grandad’s nephew Roy Evans and his “friend” Alma.
They Decide to Buy a Piece of Land in Drayton
Initially, I assumed that the piece of land they looked at was the piece of land on Drayton High Road where they subsequently lived but this was not the case. They initially did decide to buy this land for £500 and asked mum and dad to explore building a bungalow on it.
Selling Their House in Kirkby
They sold their house in Welbeck Street. Initially, the house was valued at £3,200 but grandad thought this was too high and quickly agreed to sell it to a Mr Wilkinson for £3,000 which would be around £40,000 today. According to Zoopla, the property is currently worth around £126,000.
Grandad Sells His Tools
At the end of August 1963, grandad sold his saw and planes to Mr Carr for £18 and his dining table to Mr Wilkinson for £5. At the beginning of September, Jack Wilkinson’s son took some lead and other scrap metal to Mansfield for grandad. They paid £5 13s for this which they split equally.
Finalising the House Sale
Grandad signed the contract to sell the house in Welbeck Street on 16 September 1963. On 2 October, Mrs Wilkinson came to the house to put up curtains and her son cut the lawns. They paid £110 for furniture and carpets leaving a balance of £5 which was paid on the 4th.
Moving to Norwich by Bus
Grandma and grandad moved to Norwich by bus on 8 October 1963. Oldershaws moved their furniture at a cost of £30.
Flat in Lilburne Avenue
Initially, they lived in a flat, 45 Lilburne Avenue, in Upper Hellesdon, some two miles from where we were living.
It seems that mum found this flat for grandma and grandad. At the end of September 1963, grandad sent a cheque for £38 19 6d to pay rent for the flat. Grandma and grandad’s furniture was delivered the day after they moved, partly to the flat and partly to our house. Grandad paid Oldershaws the agreed price plus ten shillings tip. According to Zoopla, the property is a two-bedroomed flat. There are more photos of the flat on that site.
Although they lived there for seven months, while their bungalow was being built, I have no recollection of this as I was still under four when they moved to their bungalow.
Looking at Bungalows
At the end of October 1963, grandma and grandad started looking at bungalows. They looked at one in Taverham with hot air central heating and they looked at another in Boundary Road. However, grandad was “not impressed” as they wanted £2,700 for it and he considered it no better than the Burton property which had sold in Kirkby for £1,150. On 12 November, mum, grandma and grandad went to see a bungalow on Drayton Park Estate. Two days later, they went to look at bungalows in Horsford.
I am not sure why they were looking at bungalows when I thought they had decided to build one on the piece of land they had identified in Drayton. It may have been, at least in part, to get ideas for the bungalow they were going to build. Grandad did visit, on several occasions, the bungalow being built by a local butcher, Mr Kemp. It may also have been a back-up plan if they failed to get permission to build on the land they had identified.
Plans for the Piece of Land They Wanted to Buy Fell Through
On 20 November 1963, they found that they could not build a bungalow on that land. Grandad did not explain why. So, they continued to look at alternative houses and potential building sites. At the end of November, they identified another plot of land in Drayton but the next day they received a letter from Carters saying they could not get permission to build a bungalow on that plot.
Land on Drayton High Road
In the end, they identified a piece of land in Drayton. This became 166 Drayton High Road. However, initially, grandad identified this as 170 Drayton High Road. I don’t know if this was a mistake or if at some point the numbering changed. It would surprise me if grandad had made such a mistake but it would also surprise me if he did not note that someone else had made a mistake!
Draper and Nichols
They identified the land through Draper and Nichols for £800 and decided to proceed with that. On 4 December 1963, Mr Draper called with pencil sketches of the plans. A week later, he quoted them a price of £3,176 to build the bungalow excluding paths and central heating. On 1 January 1964, mum, grandma and grandad went to see the piece of land and saw Mr Draper who told them that the plans would be passed. On the 3rd, mum and grandma planted some bulbs on the land. That same day, Mr Draper called with the plans that had been approved by the Council. Depending on weather, he hoped to start building within two to three weeks.
On the 24th, Mr Draper informed grandad that they would start building the next week. Three days later, grandad paid an initial deposit of £80 for the land. That same day, grandma and grandad decided to have gas central heating from the Gas Board but they decided to have the boiler on the other side of the kitchen (presumably from where it was originally planned).
Building work started on 28 January 1964 and took just over three months with grandma and grandad moving into the bungalow on 13 May 1964. The total cost was just over £4,000, which would be around £57,000 today. According to Zoopla, the property is currently worth around £365,000.
Fitts Did the Move for Them
The move was done by Fitts and cost £8 2 6d.
Work on the House
Once they moved, grandma and grandad did various things to the house.
Stocking the Cabin
Grandad stocked his cabin with woodworking tools,
Concrete Front Drive
They had a concrete front drive installed. In addition, they had some concrete laid near the back and side doors. Mr Draper’s men brought it and laid it. Grandad prepared the ground and finished it with his trowel. He paid Mr Draper ten shillings although he did not want anything for this.
They Had Some Additional Furniture Delivered
This included a hall robe (£12 10s) and a table (£8 8s) from what looks like Jarvis in Norwich. There was a Henry Jarvis and Sons Ltd on St Benedicts Street and part of this is now Norwich Charitable Trusts.
They Laid Slabs to Form a Garden Path
This involved buying 30 three foot slabs and two hundredweight of broken slabs.
They Put Up a Sign with the House Name (Elstow) and Number (166)
I believe they got this from Hubbards, see Chapter 84.
They had the Gas Board instal hot air central heating. Grandad noted that he thought they would like it once they got used to it. For more detail of items they purchased for the house during this period, see Chapter 84.
The Playing Fields
Opposite grandma and grandad’s old bungalow are the King George V playing fields. Apparently, this site is one of around 470 playing fields that received this name following the death of King George V in 1936. I confess I did not know the name of these fields. There is a sign there now but I do not recall this as a child but there could have been. We did not go there often. We tended to play in grandma and grandad’s garden. I do not recall there being any children’s play equipment in the playing fields at that time although there is now. From memory, I don’t think the playing fields were used much (say in comparison to the park behind our house in Hellesdon) and apparently this was still an issue in 2016 as described in the neighbourhood plan.
My Childhood and Teenage Years
I have strong memories of grandma and grandad’s house in Drayton. They lived there throughout my childhood and into my teenage years even after we had moved from the house in Hellesdon.
Sunday Afternoon Tea
I recall going there most Sunday afternoons for tea. We were required to eat our tea sitting at a table in the kitchen. Tea usually consisted of sandwiches, cakes etc. I particularly recall cold meats, such as ham and tongue. Also, I remember that grandma used to butter bread on the loaf and then cut it very thinly.
I also recall that grandad used to eat his tea separately from us in front of the television in the front room. It always seemed an injustice to me that he was allowed to do this and we weren’t! We must have sometimes been in the front room with him as I remember that he sometimes used to pour his tea into his saucer to cool it. I also recall some of the television programmes he liked to watch including The Golden Shot and professional wrestling. Apparently, the Golden Shot was aired from 1967 so these memories are from a little later than this period. My memories must be a bit mixed up as the wrestling was shown on TV on a Saturday afternoon which means we must have also visited quite often on a Saturday although I do not clearly recall this.
The Layout of the Bungalow and the Gardens
I have strong memories of the layout of the bungalow and their gardens. There was a moderately-sized front garden with the house set back quite a way from the road. Both gardens had a lot of grass which I sometimes cut as a teenager. There were also elaborate windmills, made by grandad, front and back. One of the original windmills is still in place at the house, see Chapter 94. The back garden was large and there was a path made of slabs going round the outside of a large lawn. There was a farmer’s field at the back and tall trees at the back and down at least one side.
Recollections of Drayton
I do not recall much else about the location around grandma and grandad’s house. For example, I do not recall Drayton village at all except I remember the Methodist Church being on the right as you headed into Drayton from the house. I also recall that if you turned right out of grandma and grandad’s house, there was a footpath off from the road which would take you through some woods to Drayton Low Road.
Other People Moved During This Period
There were a number of friends and family members who moved during this period.
Graham and Joan Hardy
Graham and Joan Hardy had been renting the house next-door from grandma and grandad, at 98 Welbeck Street. In February 1960, they moved to a new bungalow in Selston some three and a half miles to the south west of Kirkby. Just prior to the move, at the end of January, mum, grandma, grandad and Tricia all went to Selston to see this bungalow.
Arthur and Florrie Booth
Following Graham and Joan’s move, grandma and grandad sold 98 Welbeck Street to a Mr and Mrs Booth, Arthur and Florrie. The house was valued at £1,850 which would be around £30,000 today and it sold for £1,735. According to Zoopla, the property is currently worth around £134,000. It was last sold in 1998 for £32,500. Arthur and Florrie moved in in April 1960 and became firm friends with grandma and grandad.
In July 1960, the Shipmans moved from 100 Welbeck Street to Ripley, some eight miles south west of Kirkby. They had had the bungalow in Welbeck Street built in 1926.
Ken and Pearl Hodges
In April 1960, grandma, Auntie Bertha and Renie went to see Pearl Hodges’ new house. Grandad noted that they had a look round the house. However, although she gave them a cup of tea she did not ask them to stay for tea!
Jack and Phyllis Attwood
That same month, grandma and grandad visited Annesley Woodhouse to see a plot of land where Jack and Phyllis Attwood were going to build a bungalow. The Attwoods moved from Beulah Road to their new bungalow in January 1961 and grandma and grandad visited them there a few days later.
Olive and Alf Holland
In March 1961, Olive and Alf Holland moved to Harby in Leicestershire.
The Victoria Road Properties
During this period, grandad still owned two properties in Victoria Road (158 and 162) which he rented out. Grandad sold the intervening house (160) in 1957 when the longtime tenant, Miss Lowe, died, see Chapter 70. It appears that, in June 1964, grandad sold the house at 162 Victoria Road. On the 8th, grandad noted receiving conveyancing documents on this from G Wyles and getting his signature witnessed by mum.