You can’t take Great Yarmouth out of the girl!
- Credit: Peter Allard Collection
Air, land and sea - well, river, to be exact - come together today, with feedback from recent columns. First, a virtual flight to Buckinghamshire, home of a daughter of Great Yarmouth airfield pioneer “Wilbur” Wright.
Barbara Spalding met her husband when both worked for Amoco in Yarmouth before he was transferred to London. They also lived overseas before settling in Buckinghamshire to be near London.
Her Yarmouth home was in Collingwood Road near the boys’ Grammar School. “I used to go to Great Yarmouth High School for Girls and still have friends from those days, and we all keep in touch. They say you can take the girl out of Yarmouth but you can’t take Yarmouth out of the girl!” Barbara writes.
“I know all the aeroplanes you pictured and could tell you stories about them all – they were our friends! My dad always said I was bought up in the back of an aeroplane!
“He built the old wooden hangar with help from friends and staff, quite an achievement. The aircraft were stored over by the farm at night before the hangar was built in an area surrounded by an electric fence whilst the farmer’s cows munched the grass around overnight.
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“The field had to be rolled everyday to even out the cow dung! It was all very rural and basic. How times have changed.
“I remember my dad buying the land (from Yaxley, the farmer, I think) and then selling it to Bristow or Bond Helicopters because my sister and I were involved in the business.
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“I don’t think I could drive past it if it wasn’t an airfield – would make me cry. I remember stock car racing (at the neighbouring stadium) on a Sunday. We used to do car parking on airfield. So many memories...”
Another recent column concerned an official 1960 handbook listing the wide variety of youth organisations in Yarmouth and Gorleston. That jogged memories for ex-pats Danny and Marjorie Daniels in Canada. She once worked in the education offices on the switchboard and in the mail room after chief education officer Donald Farrow visited the Shrublands centre and praised the way she moderated a debate.
Danny knew youth officer Edgar Stanley who used look in on Leo Dance and Tom Parke’s coaching sessions - “he was very encouraging to me and the few youngsters who did regular workouts there.”
The long list of youth organisations did not mention the Girls Training Corps, the couple noticed. It was at the GTC that the couple first met, Army Cadet staff sergeant Danny being sent there by his CO when leader Miss Lawrence requested help in teaching her members to march.
“The rest, as it is said, became history,” notes Danny.
Miss Lawrence also produced the GTC pantomime, and asked Danny, Terry Bird, Russell Edwards and Graham Swann to play the “male” roles in Cinderella. “Terry got a male role as Cinders’ father, Russ played the stepmother, and Graham and I were the Ugly Sisters.
“Thus Marjorie, as Cinderella, ended up by starting to ‘go out’ with Ermyntrude (me), with whom she had become familiar by lacing me up in my corsets on stage ready to go to the ball!”
Finally, reader Richard Helsdon points out my error in stating that the abandoned Belgian trawler Styn Streuvels was beached on Darby’s Hard in 1969. In fact, she became derelict on the Spending Beach, as I originally stated.
Richard adds that in a 2014 article about the long gone Troy Alley (near today’s St Francis Way), I wondered if anyone had actually lived there. “Well, they certainly died there as one of my ancestors died of tuberculosis in Troy Alley in 1847,” he says.
“They didn’t have far to go to the mortuary either - it was on the opposite corner to the St John’s Head pub on North Quay end of Row 45!”