Readers remember their working past

The opening of the new Birds Eye factory in 1952.

The opening of the new Birds Eye factory in 1952. - Credit: Archant

As this column often has a nautical theme, today we clear the decks although it also encompasses local industry as I pass on contributions received from readers.

The South Denes area of Great Yarmouth in 1955 viewed from Nelson's Monument, once open space used f

The South Denes area of Great Yarmouth in 1955 viewed from Nelson's Monument, once open space used for military camps and storage of barrels for the herring fishery but long-since industrialised, with major employers Erie Electronics and Birds Eye Foods located there. - Credit: Archant

Also, it raises new issues.

So let us relax in our comfy slippers - which brings us to the first topic, arising from an inquiry about the location of a local slipper manufacturer.

My first reaction was that it was on the South Denes, but local historian and author Colin Tooke informs me that his 1938 Kelly’s Directory lists it as being on the north side and western end of Alpha Road (“Miller FC, slipper makers”).

But, intriguingly, Colin adds: “Didn’t the slipper factory on South Denes become Erie Resistor?” - premises featured here recently along with Birds Eye Foods as being Great Yarmouth’s biggest post-war employers.

Green beans being packed at Birds Eye's premises in 1959.

Green beans being packed at Birds Eye's premises in 1959. - Credit: Archant

Erie is still in operation, albeit trading as API Technologies Corporation RF2M Division.

And correspondent Anthony Oliver reports: “I established a link with a heritage group in Cockermouth some years ago because I worked at the electronics company, known then (1964) as Erie Resistor Ltd.

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“It had moved from London in 1943 because it was an important and vulnerable manufacturing unit, making items for radar development among other things.

“The managing director first viewed properties in Lowestoft but ended up buying a unit on South Denes.

“As an apprentice I always knew it as Millora Works but was oblivious as to why it was called this. I now know that it had been owned by a company called Millers that made slippers and some types of shoe - Millora was one of their brand names.

“They left in 1939 and settled in Cockermouth, hence my link with them when I was writing my company’s history.

“An e-mail recently arrived from the Cockermouth Heritage Group secretary who had written an article about Millers, prompting an enquiry from a reader.

“It turns out that the enquirer’s mother had been sent regular Christmas gifts from her old female boss who had been at Great Yarmouth.

“Presumably the mother was one of the several that moved north with the company. The lady asks if anyone can provide any history about the Great Yarmouth Miller factory which sadly I can’t, other than a couple of dates.

“She goes on to say that the female boss was called Hilda and asks if there are any company records, but this does seem a long shot.”

Anthony’s research revealed very little about Miller’s but he wonders if there is an article, or anyone with a snippet of information, he can forward to Cockermouth to help the heritage group.

Richard Stanton, having read some of my columns in the online Mercury, asks if I have come across any information about his old Gorleston private school which relocated to Ludlow in Shropshire.

He reports: “From 1956-59 (8-11 years of age) I attended a small boarding school, Gorleston School, located in Fishmore Hall, on the outskirts of Ludlow. It had relocated there from Gorleston-on-Sea at some time.

“The school was run by a Mrs Peggy (Margaret) Oldcorn whose husband was killed during the war, assisted by Mr John Grubb, a former prisoner-of-war in Germany.

“I am trying to build an ownership history of Fishmore Hall, which is now a hotel.”

Again, Colin Tooke came up with the answer - his 1936 Kelly’s Directory listed “Gorleston School for Boys, M Bradshaw-Bond and RF Oldcorn, principals, 46 Clarence Road, Gorleston.”

When I conveyed this to Richard Stanton, his acknowledgement read: “Great! It confirms what I remember, and the Oldcorn name ties in too.

“Other information I have is that there was a boys’ private school in Gorleston from 1926-28 (preparatory school) and 1929-39 (day and boarders) and that evacuations started from Norfolk in 1940 when Belgium fell.

“If you have any other memories/correspondents who have information about the evacuations, who went where etc. that would be very nice.”