80. A Van and a Viva

Grandma and Grandad Owned a Morris Minor

At the start of this period, grandma and grandad still owned the Morris Minor that they had bought in 1955, see Chapter 63. For details of Morris Motors, see Chapter 51.

Morris Minor that grandma and grandad bought in 1955

Mum Sometimes Drove Grandma and Grandad’s Car

We did not have a car but, in the early part of 1960, mum sometimes drove grandma and grandad’s car.

Using the Car

Local Trips

Grandma and grandad used the car to go to chapel and Sunday School and for various other local trips, including going to the barbers, the bank, the post office and to collect rent. Grandma also used the car for shopping trips to Mansfield and Nottingham.

Visiting Family and Friends

They particularly used the car to visit family and friends including Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie, Graham and Joan Hardy, Cyril and Minnie, Harold and Edith Evans, and Auntie Mabel. Harold Evans was Arthur Evans’ younger brother, so Eva’s brother-in-law. Auntie Mabel was Uncle Frank’s sister. I believe she was Edith Mabel and that her married name was Cresswell.

Giving Lifts to Family and Friends

Grandma and grandad also gave lifts to family and friends including Annie Holmes, Eva, Carole, Ken and Pearl Hodges, Auntie Bertha, Renie and Jim (and their dog Gyp!), Mr and Mrs Deakin, Mrs Deakin’s sister, Florrie and Arthur Booth, Mrs Bust, Cyril and Minnie, Emmie Barker, John Lamb and his wife, Mr Langford, and Ron and Barbara Rowe. In particular, grandad’s sister Eva visited quite often during this period and grandma and grandad sometimes picked her up halfway between Kirkby and Harby in Gunthorpe. I don’t know precisely who Emmie Barker was, a friend or relative of Minnie Parkin’s perhaps.

It appears that grandma and grandad expected a contribution towards petrol for such trips. Grandad sometimes noted when people gave them something and also when they did not!

Travelling Further Afield

Grandma and grandad did use the car to travel further afield. Grandma used it to visit other chapels, see Chapter 79, and to attend various church meetings, such as the district Synod in Derby in May 1963. They also visited other places.


Mum and grandma went there in February 1960 for the funeral of Fred Davey, see Chapter 78. Grandma also went there to see her cousin Annie in November 1960. In August 1961, both grandma and grandad went there although I suspect grandad’s motivation for going was more to see the new Doncaster motorway bypass!


The trip to Driffield was for Marilyn’s wedding, see Chapter 77.


They also visited Harby, the place where Alf and Olive Holland and their family lived.


Grandma and mum went there in July 1961 for Bert’s funeral, see Chapter 78.


This was where Edna Bust nee Deakin lived.


This was where Cyril and Minnie lived.

Visiting Us in Norwich

Between the time we moved to Norwich and when grandma and grandad joined us, they also came to visit us quite frequently in the car. On one occasion, in May 1961, grandma picked up Minnie in Ilkeston and Eva in Harby on her way to ours. Another time, in September 1961, grandma and grandad picked up Doris in Forest Town and brought her to ours. On that particular occasion, when they got to Sutterton, they found that the Fosdyke bridge was closed and they had to divert through Spalding.

Fosdyke Bridge

Grandad referred to this as Foss Dyke bridge but this is a bit confusing. Foss Dyke is an ancient canal that runs from Torksey to Lincoln whereas the bridge is located at Fosdyke which is a Lincolnshire village.

Fosdyke bridge © Dave Hitchborne and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

My Recollections of the Journey from Norwich to Kirkby

I have a lot of memories of the journey from Norwich to Kirkby although many of them are from a later period as we continued to go there to visit grandma Drew in particular. This may be why many of my memories of that journey involve dad. I recall him always commenting that Newark had a castle which “Cromwell knocked about a bit”! and pointing out where he did his national service at RAF Cranwell.  I recall King’s Lynn and Swaffham as markers that we were nearly home but perhaps my strongest memories are about Sutton Bridge, not only because of its distinctive structure but also  because we considered it the halfway point in the journey even though it is considerably nearer to Norwich than Kirkby.

Newark Castle © David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Sutton Bridge © David Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
1993 book of photographs about RAF Cranwell which trace its history from 1915
Booklet given to national service recruits going into the RAF circa 1950s

Friends and Family Members Offered Lifts

Some friends and family members also had cars and they sometimes offered lifts, particularly after grandma was no longer able to drive. These included Simon Parkin, Pearl and Ken Hodges, Bob Keeble, Linda and Clarence Reeve and, in particular, Tom and Amy Wilson.  Bob Keeble was our nest-door neighbour in Middletons Lane.

Tom and Amy, were friends of grandma and grandad from Kirkby. They visited them many times in Norfolk and we knew them as children as Auntie Amy and Uncle Tom, despite them not being related to us. Tom and Amy took grandma and grandad to many places in Norfolk and Suffolk by car including Bungay, Cromer, Gorleston, Norwich, Sandringham, Sea Palling, Wroxham, Wymondham and Yarmouth.

Photo showing Tom’s car featuring Eva, Tom, grandma and Amy in Yarmouth
Tom’s car featuring Amy, Tom and grandma at Reedham riverside

New Cars

Bill Evans and a Sunbeam Rapier

In March 1962, Bill Evans brought Doris back to grandma and grandad’s in his new car, a Sunbeam Rapier which cost around £1,100. I am not sure who Bill Evans was but there seems to be some connection to Doris Cirket.

Sunbeam were a British car maker. The name was first used for a bicycle maker in 1888 with cars being made from 1901. The brand name continued to be used until 1976. 

Grandma and Grandad Look at New Cars

I am not sure if this triggered grandma and grandad’s interest in getting a new car but they went to look at the Morris 1100 in Kennings, see Chapter 110, in Norwich when they were visiting us in September 1962.

Dr Farquharson and a Hillman Minx

In October 1962, Dr Farquharson called to see grandad. He had a new Hillman Minx car. Hillman was a British car brand that was used until 1976. Dr Farquarson was on his way to Sutton so took grandad with him to see what he thought of the car.

Grandma and Grandad Bought a New Austin A40

So, in March 1963, grandma and grandad bought a new Austin A40 car from the Lucas garage in Mansfield for £623 which included a year’s licence. They made this purchase through J Horberry, see Chapter 63. They sold their Morris to Tom and Edna Bust for £215 including licence and insurance.

Grandma in their new Austin A40 in 1963. This photograph appears to have been taken outside their house in Welbeck Street.

In March 1963, grandad wrote to Nottingham County Council to inform them that they had sold their old car. He did this because apparently vehicle licensing was handled by Borough and County Councils until the system was centralised in 1965.


Austin was a British car maker from 1905 until it merged with Morris in 1952. It remained as a brand name until 1987.

Lucas in Mansfield

Initially, I thought this company was still operating as details are available for it online at 11-25 Nottingham Road but I could not see it on StreetView and it turns out it was dissolved in 2015.

Grandma’s Concerns About Her Vision

Grandma had had concerns about her vision as early as November 1960, see Chapter 78. Initially, she was reassured. However, in May 1963, she saw the optician, Mr Wilmot of Davison’s. He advised her that she should not be driving. This was just two months after getting the new car, In June 1963, she saw Dr Fraser in Nottingham. He advised her not to drive for the next two months.

Based on this, grandma and grandad covered the car for two months. They got a certificate which allowed them to get a discount on their insurance from Ocean in Mansfield. In August 1963, grandma went back to see Dr Fraser and he confirmed that she would not be able to drive.

Grandma and Grandad Sold Their Car Only Six Months After Buying It

So, in September, only six months after having bought it, they sold the car to a Mr White for £530. He initiall paid £475 leaving a balance of £55. They also surrendered their insurance policy to Ocean.

Grandma Did Not Resume Driving

She saw Dr Fraser again in February 1964. Somewhat confusingly, he told her that she would be able to drive again in the summer. This led to grandma test driving our car in April 1964. However, although she got on OK, she did not resume driving.

Mum and Dad Decide to Buy a Van

Soon after moving to Norwich, mum and dad decided to buy a van. I am not sure why they bought a van and not a car. Perhaps they thought it would be better for a family? Perhaps it was cheaper? I am also not sure whether they had car seats for all of us. This issue is discussed in Chapter 63. They definitely had a car seat for me as, in November 1960 I insisted on sitting in it to eat my dinner and tea!

Grandma and Grandad Gave Them Money Towards the Van

On mum’s birthday, grandma and grandad gave her £50 towards the cost of a van. When we got the van, grandad noted giving us £50 towards this. I am not clear if this was in addition to the money grandma and grandad gave mum for her birthday or not.

Looking for Vans

Shortly after, mum and dad started looking at vans.

Grandma and Grandad Order a Van for Mum and Dad

On their way home from ours, grandma and grandad called at Lucas’ in Mansfield and ordered an A35 Austin van to be delivered in four weeks. I am not sure why grandma and grandad ordered this and not mum or dad, or why they decided to buy in Mansfield/ Nottingham rather than Norwich. Perhaps that was where they were familiar with.

But Delivery Was Delayed

However, despite assurances that the van would be delivered, there were significant delays.

Mum and Dad Ordered from Atkeys in Nottingham

So, on 28 October 1960, when we were in Kirkby, mum went to Atkeys in Nottingham and bought a van. Kennings also said they could supply one but mum and dad decided to get from Atkeys. So, they cancelled the order with Lucas’. Mum, dad and Tricia collected the van on 2 November 1960.

This is the best photograph I have of the van! I think this is outside the flat grandma and grandad lived in when they first came to Norfolk. It shows Tricia, Alan and me and would be around the beginning of 1964.
Green Austin A35 van © Charles 01 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


Atkeys were listed in the 1941 Kelly’s Directory as motor engineers and motor car agents at 20 Lower Parliament Street (which now houses Wilko) and with a garage in Trent Street. The company was established in 1897 by Albert Atkey who was also MP, Sheriff and Lord Mayor of Nottingham. He was knighted in 1935. There are examples of their adverts online and also a photograph of their garage from 1905.

The Van Was Not Very Reliable

However, the van was not very reliable. There were problems from the outset including with the speedometer, the demister, the horn and the driving window. Although these problems were fixed, in July 1961, the brakes were sticking and, in November 1962, the van had a leaking valve. From December 1962 on and off, there were problems in starting the van which were variously attributed to the fan belt and the battery.

The Van Gave Us More Freedom to Travel

Nevertheless, the van gave us a great deal more freedom to travel.  

Local Trips

We used it for local travel, such as going shopping and to chapel services and activities.

Offering Lifts to Friends

We were able to offer lifts to friends and people associated with chapel.

Visiting Grandma and Grandad

We used it to visit grandma and grandad both in Kirkby and once they had moved to Norfolk. We also used the van to help grandma and grandad look for a bungalow and/or place to build, to go to visit the bungalow in Drayton as it was being built and to transport things for grandad that he needed such as cement.

Visiting Family and Friends In and Around Kirkby

On visits to Kirkby, we also used the van to visit other friends and family members and to offer them lifts, including Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie, Cyril and Minnie, grandma and grandad Drew, and Mary and Derrick Leach.

Trips In and Around Norfolk

The van also allowed us to go for runs around Norfolk and beyond. Places we went to in the van included Bacton, Catton, Clacton, Costessey, Cromer, Horning, Lowestoft, Norwich, Reepham, Walcott and Yarmouth.

Looking for a Car.

In December 1963, when the van was just over three years’ old, mum and grandma started looking at cars.

Vauxhall Viva

On 23 December 1963, mum and dad test drove a Vauxhall Viva at Delve’s. For details of Vauxhall, see Chapter 31. Delve’s was a Vauxhall dealership in Mountergate Norwich. They operated from at least 1930. Apparently, they were taken over by Steels Motor Group. 

They decided to buy and we got the car on 1 February 1964. We sold the van privately and the money from the sale went towards the purchase of the new car. In addition, grandma and grandad gave mum and dad £429 for the car.

I do not have a photo of our Vauxhall Viva but this photo shows a Vauxhall Viva from around that time © Andrew Bone and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Using the New Car to See Progress on the Drayton Bungalow

The new car was used to take grandma and grandad to see progress on building their bungalow between March and May 1964.

Transporting People Between Ours and Grandma and Grandad’s

The new car was also used to transport people between ours and grandma and grandad’s. For example, in June 1964, Bob Keeble picked up grandma and Eva in our car. In July 1964, people transported included grandma, grandad and Florrie and Arthur Booth.

Going to Chapel

We used the car to go to chapel and Sunday School.

Going into Norwich

We used the car to go into Norwich. One example was grandma, Eva, Tricia and me going into the city in May 1964. We came back by bus. In August 1964, mum took Jim and Renie into Norwich and they came back by bus.

Going to Drayton

We used the car to go to grandma and grandad’s in Drayton. For example, in August 1964, grandma, Auntie Bertha, Mrs Merry, Tricia, Alan and I went to Drayton in the car.

Going to Sea Palling to see the Caravan

One example of this was in October 1964. Tom Wilson also drove on that occasion.

Car Accidents

There were a couple of minor car accidents during this period.

Christmas Day 1960

On Christmas Day 1960, grandma had  taken Mrs Rossington home and, coming back, she had a bump with a car driven by Mr Wass.

January 1963

On 4 January 1963, a car skidded in front of us and went into the Turners’ hedge. Dad, Mr Keeble and others helped get the driver out. No-one was hurt and the driver left without giving his name.

Using Buses

Family members also frequently used buses, particularly when no car was available or the weather was bad. In Kirkby, people often went to Mansfield or Nottingham by bus and, in Norwich, to the city centre.

Buses were also often used for longer journeys, e.g. to Blackpool, Bridlington and Doncaster. A a number of family members and friends came to visit us in Norwich by bus, including Jim and Renie, grandma and grandad Drew, Auntie Dolly, Florrie and Arthur Booth, Auntie Bertha, Mrs Merry and David Hill.

This often involved dropping people off and picking them up at Norwich Bus Station but sometimes they were dropped off at the Roundwell. This was a pub in New Costessey but this was demolished in 2009 and there is a medical centre there now.

Norwich bus station in the 1950s from news cutting
The Roundwell pub in New Costessey circa 2008 just before demolition © Ian Paterson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Chapel Outings Were Often By Bus

Chapel outings, see Chapter 79, were often made by bus. These included the Trinity Sunday School outings to Derby Park in May 1960 and Chesterfield Park in July 1962, Trinity ladies’ outings to Willersley Castle in May 1961 and to Northampton in March 1962, a Trinity outing to the pantomime in Nottingham in March 1962, the Mile Cross Sunday School outing to Lowestoft in June 1963 and Mile Cross ladies’ outings to Sussex villages in June 1964 and to Oulton etc. in September 1964.

Longer Journeys Were Often By Train

Some longer journeys were also carried out by train, including from Kirkby, Nottingham Victoria, Chesterfield, Derby or Matlock stations.  At the start of this period, there were three railway stations in Kirkby but by the end there were none, see Chapter 63. For details of Nottingham Victoria and the stations in Chesterfield and Derby, also see Chapter 63. The station in Matlock dates back to 1849 when it was originally known as Matlock Bridge station.

In July 1961, mum, dad, Tricia and I went on the Mile Cross Sunday School outing by train. Some people who came to visit us in Norwich came by train. These included Marion Slater, Ron, Barbara and Sharon Rowe and Auntie Dolly. In these cases, we picked them up from Norwich’s Thorpe station, now just known as  Norwich station.

Postcard of Thorpe railway station in Norwich

Walking and Cycling

Some journeys were made by walking or cycling but perhaps fewer than in previous years.

Walking to Chapel

Grandma frequently walked to chapel, both to Trinity when living in Kirkby and to Mile Cross once they had moved to Norwich. In January 1964, she walked from Lilburne Avenue to Rosebery Road chapel, see Chapter 79.

Going for Walks

When we lived in Hellesdon, mum sometimes took us for walks including round Links Avenue or Eaton Park. Grandad also took us for walks when he visited us, particularly in the park behind where we lived.

Walking to the Shops etc

When living in Lilburne Avenue, grandad also walked to the shops, the post box and the phone box.

Walking Home

Sometimes walking home was a last resort, for example when mum and dad had to walk home from a dance at the Norwood Rooms. see Chapter 81, in December 1963.

Taking Visitors for Walks

Once grandma and grandad were living in Drayton, she sometimes went for walks, particularly when they had visitors, e.g. to Taverham with Florrie and Arthur Booth in July 1964, to ours with Cyril in October 1964 and into Drayton with Auntie Dolly on Christmas Eve 1964.

Cycling to Get a Haircut

Grandad occasionally cycled somewhere including to get his hair cut in September 1961.

Increasingly Grandad Struggled to Walk or Cycle

But, he found walking or cycling anywhere a struggle.

The Green Bike

In June 1963, grandad worked on their green bike to make it available for grandma to ride during the period she was unable to drive.

This may have been mum’s. In July 1963, he referred to putting a new tube in the green bike and he mentioned that he had bought it (presumably the tube) from Austin’s for 6/7.


Austin’s was a bike shop on New Street. There is an advert in the 1953 Carnival magazine but that has the name as W D Austin and the address as 46 Kingsway. It seems that the shop was at the junction of Kingsway and New Street. There is a McColl’s garage there now. The shop is one of “Three Shops” featured in Mark Ashfield’s book “A Carnival Crown and a Roasted Ox” (pp17-18).

Using the Bike

Grandma did use the green bike a few times but then seemed to stop although she did cycle to ours from the bungalow in Drayton in June 1964. Grandad tried riding the bike but was unable to do so without getting pain in his chest. He did, however, manage a few short bike rides in October 1963, soon after they had moved to Norwich, including to the Boundary Garage.

Bikes for Birthdays

Tricia and I both got bikes for our birthdays in 1962. They were stored at the Keebles’ before being given to us. We both got them on Tricia’s birthday. In June 1962, Tricia went on her bike when mum went to see Betty Colver. In April 1963, mum went for a walk and Tricia and I both brought our bikes.

These photos were taken in the front garden of grandma and grandad’s bungalow in Drayton which places them as late 1964 or perhaps 1965. Above shows mum with Alan on a wooden bike that grandad had made. Below shows me with dad.

NSU Quickly

In April 1964, grandad bought an NSU Quickly moped. I assume he did this because they no longer had the car and his physical health meant he was restricted in how far he could walk or cycle.

NSU Quickly moped from the 1960s © Elmschrat and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The book of the NSU Quickly from 1966

He originally paid a deposit of £5 and then a balance of £17 10s. My sense is that this was bought secondhand privately. Within a couple of weeks of buying it, grandad took it to Pointers on Aylsham Road. They put in three new cables, a gear change, a front brake and a new clutch at a total cost of £1 12 7d. They also serviced it a few days later. Philip Hall has written a book, “The Ups and Downs of a Crane Driver”, which includes a description of the time he worked for Pointers until the business was sold in 1970.

Using the Moped

The moped gave grandad a great deal of freedom to travel about and I vaguely recall him riding it. He used it to come to ours and to go shopping, particularly for DIY materials. While still living at Lilburne Avenue, grandad used it to visit the bungalow in Drayton to see progress being made. When they had moved to Drayton, he used the moped to go back to Woodcock Road to get his hair cut. He regularly went into Drayton on it, particularly to collect their pensions from the post office. He also used to just go out on it for a run including to Costessey, Dereham Road and Taverham. In May 1964, he bought some items for his moped from Halfords. These included a mirror for 10/6, a bag for 4/4 and a spare spark plug for five shillings.