‘Little urchins’ besieged arriving holidaymakers earning coppers by carrying luggage

ADVICE to the love-lorn, financial tips or medical diagnoses are not the stuff of this column, but I am usually happy to help solve the odd problem.

So today I am seeking the aid of Porthole readers on the subjects of classical music - selflessly setting aside my love of big-band jazz – and an old photograph.

First, from Avenue Road in Gorleston Maurice King writes: “I recall an occasion many years ago when the famous pianist John Ogdon gave a recital in the recently-built Yarmouth Central Library. My wife Janet and I with some friends attended the performance but I cannot remember much about the occasion other than that Mr Ogdon played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, among other pieces.

“It seemed remarkable that one of the world’s top pianists should be performing in the imtimate surroundings of the library’s lecture hall to an audience of perhaps 100 to 150 people, for he had quite recently won joint first prize at the prestigious Tchaikowsky Competition in Moscow in 1962.

“I believe the date of his Yarmouth performance was April or May 1963. I wonder if any other of your readers were present, or could fill me in on the finer details.”

I trawled through Mercury 1963 files without spotting mention of the recital although I might have missed it. Porthole aficianodos have a wealth of memories, and I hope someone can supply the information sought by Maurice, a 77-year-old retired Town Hall employee and brother of Caister’s Tony King who was once the borough’s entertainments and publicity officer.

Another reader seeking help is Mrs Daphne Greenacre who sent me a copy of a recently-found postcard “which seems to portray many ladies, but no men, walking along a deserted road. It is very feint, and is numbered 3 so presumably there were more, and I assume that this one featured whoever owned it. The photographer was the Gorleston’s B Stone and Son, but there is no other identification.”

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Mrs Greenacre’s puzzle picture is on this page today. Her husband John - grandson of Alderman Harry Greenacre, commemorated in a school currently being renamed - collects postcards of Yarmouth and Gorleston and was handed this one by someone who knew of his interest. “It had belonged to the late Bob Gale so could have been of someone in his family but, as he was the last of his family, there is no-one to ask,” she explains.

Harry Greenacre, Yarmouth mayor in 1936, will be recalled by grammar school boys of my postwar era as chairman of the governors whose annual speech day always included his “gift” of an extra holiday.

Recently I recalled the two identical South Beach murders in 1900 and 1912 when young women were strangled by mohair bootlaces. In the online Mercury, reader Edmund Earle responded that he thought the column might have mentioned his great-grandfather - “the notorious Thomas Allen, who shot and murdered PC Charles Algar in St Andrew’s Road, Gorleston, in 1909. His daughter Rachel was to become my grandmother.

“She married my grandfather, George Earle, who later became a ferryman, rowing from the Ferry Hill steps over to the Fishwharf - a hard life, as I recall.

“I am in my 73rd year now, but remember my grandfather and grandmother well, although I never did get to meet Thomas Allen as he was gone before I was born. My grandmother had a letter from him from prison in London in 1914 saying he was trying to join the army, as World War One had just broken out. He was later moved to Broadmoor, where I believe he died.

“She showed us kids the letter, but I have no idea where it finished up; it may have gone to Bradford when one of her daughters moved there.”

Thank you, Mr Earle, for your reminder of the shooting of father of five PC Algar who was responding to a report that ratcatcher, poacher and petty thief Allen was assaulting his wife. Allen shot the constable at close range, then shooting and wounding three neighbours who confronted him before other police arrived and overpowered him.

From Canada, where he and his wife Marjorie have lived since 1957, ex-Yarmouthian Danny Daniels recalls St Luke’s Church in Cobholm, recently closed as potentially dangerous: “I was both a chorister there before the war and, on Saturdays, used to go to St Luke’s Hall where they showed flickery black-and-white pictures for a penny.

“At Cobholm Mixed Infants and Junior School I learned to play the triangle (blue notes on the big chart), drums (black notes), tambourine (red notes) and, joy of joys, cymbals (yellow notes).

“Teachers included Miss Haslett (later to marry Mr Periera who taught French at Yarmouth Grammar School), Miss Bland (who was anything but!) and Mrs Bellamy who guided me through the scholarship year on my way to grammar school.

“I later came to understand that she was the only ‘Mrs’ allowed to teach because she was a widow and therefore unlikely to get up to those things which married women did and obviously disqualified them from being in daily contact with young minds!”

Mercury mention of the boarded-up Two Bears Hotel reminded Danny of his father, a 1914-18 war veteran, who launched a window cleaning round, building up a list of regular customers of which the Two Bears was one. Grammar school boy Danny accompanied him one summer and “got to ‘do’ the Two Bears”.

Danny was once “one the regular little urchins with a cut-down pram frame who besieged arriving holidaymakers at Southtown Station, offering to carry their bags to wherever they were going to bed-and-breakfast. You received tuppence, if you were lucky, for three bags all the way to St Peter’s Road.”

My reference to sprinter Stanley Fuller, a 1932 Olympian in Los Angeles, reminded Danny of a family story about his Uncle Charlie Ulph who worked for fertiliser merchant Bunn, of which Fuller later became chairman.

“In 1930 Uncle Charlie drove one of Bunn’s horse-drawn carts full of manure over the new Haven Bridge immediately following the official cavalcade (led by the Duke of Windsor, later Edward VIII, who had formally opened it)!”