Popular jazz and motorcycle fanatic dies aged 84

Man sitting with a black dog on a red, leather chair

Robin Hambling, of Great Yarmouth, has died aged 84. Here he is pictured with his dog, Charlie - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

A Great Yarmouth stalwart, who survived an air bomber raid on the town as a child, has died aged 84. 

Robin Hambling was born in the town on July 15, 1935. The son of a Yarmouth bus driver and motor engineer, he spent much of his boyhood in Cradock Avenue until the Second World War, when he was evacuated to the Midlands.  

By 1943, the family had returned to the town, but the Focke-Wulf fighter bomber raids in May of that year almost ended their return in tragedy.  

Black and white clipping of an article

An extract about an air raid in Great Yarmouth, written by Robin Hambling - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

When Robin's father was about to take his then seven-year-old son to school on his bike, there was no warning of an air raid. When they realised what was happening, his father shouted for him to "get down, boy". Following a tremendous roar and an enormous bang, a young Robin found himself under a settee and surrounded by black dust and debris. 

His father miraculously walked away with damaged clothing and a badly injured finger, despite laying down against a wall just ten yards away from the crater left by the bomb. The family’s house was badly damaged and his mother, who was pregnant at the time, was in the bedroom when the bomb blast blew over a wardrobe on top of her. Fortunately, it landed on a headboard, creating a safety cocoon. 


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The fact that there was no air raid warning was a blessing in disguise as the Hambling’s bomb shelter received a direct hit and was later found wrapped around a lamppost.   

Black and white clipping from an article

An extract about an air raid in Great Yarmouth, written by Robin Hambling - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Robin attended North Denes School, which was temporarily housed in the former Grammar School. He joined the Boy Scouts but unfortunately, his younger brother drowned in a boating accident. 

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Robin went on to the Technical High School and on leaving he joined Toby Motors, the motor engineers on the seafront. On leaving there in 1960, he went to work for Birds Eye foods in the engineering department, where he also served as a fieldsman, working very long hours during the pea vining season. When the factory closed in June1986, he set up as a freelance mobile motor mechanic travelling to where he was needed working on anything from private cars to heavy lorries. 

Black and white photo of a man on a motorcycle

Robin Hambling, of Great Yarmouth, has died aged 84. Here he is pictured as a young man on a bike in his mother's garden - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Robin’s great love was motorcycles, which began at the Speedway on Caister Road when his father took him there during the Yarmouth Bloaters’ prime, shortly after the war. He owned many motorcycles and travelled all over the country and Europe making many friends by combining this hobby with his other great interest - jazz music. 

He was a member of Yarmouth Engineering Society and was active in Birds Eye former employees club. He was president of the Great Yarmouth Men’s Probus Club and would entertain members with talks and slide shows on jazz, speedway, motorcycles, bubble cars, and his foreign holidays. 

During the Covid lockdown, he produced a newsletter distributed to the membership called The Toxic Times, which contained news of members and ribald stories and anecdotes. He was a frequent correspondent to the Great Yarmouth Mercury, and Michael Bullock, as Peggotty, would often quote his letters.  

Robin Hambling, pictured with his dogs on a walk along the beach

Robin Hambling, pictured with his dogs on a walk along the beach - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

His daughter, Linda Sawyer, described her dad as "loyal and supportive".

"My dad lived and worked in Great Yarmouth for his entire life. He has been an active member of the local community and very much enjoyed this role.

"Dad loved his wife Margaret, his family, all music but particularly jazz, motorcycles, and his dogs.

"Over the last few days, I have contacted the many friends, former colleagues, and acquaintances that he gathered during his almost 85 years and I have come to realise just how many lives he touched over many, many years.

"He was a wonderful communicator and a loyal, supportive friend. My sisters and I will always be proud of our dad, who was taken from us so suddenly."

Photo of an elderly couple smiling at the camera

Robin Hambling, pictured with his wife Margaret, who taught at several schools in Great Yarmouth - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Friend, Andrew Fakes, said: “He will be greatly missed by his many friends in the town and his wider acquaintances over England and Europe.” 

Robin died on January 6 following a short illness. He leaves his wife, Margaret, five daughters, ten grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. 

A private family funeral will take place on January 27.

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