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So nice, I thought they were Smiths crisps!

PUBLISHED: 10:30 08 July 2016 | UPDATED: 10:30 08 July 2016

TAKE YOUR PARTNERS! The mock Tyrolean Biergarten in the Wellington Pier's Winter Gardens in the mid-1960s when future mayor Harry Miller played piano in Josef Hoffer's orchestra. Picture: SUBMITTED

TAKE YOUR PARTNERS! The mock Tyrolean Biergarten in the Wellington Pier's Winter Gardens in the mid-1960s when future mayor Harry Miller played piano in Josef Hoffer's orchestra. Picture: SUBMITTED

Archant

Today is feedback time from recent columns – amendments, corrections, additions...plus a fresh item. My thanks go to all readers who have offered information.

TEA-TIME TELLY...the former Rifle Volunteer public house (right) on Blackfriars Road in Yarmouth where young John Annison watched Children's Hour on TV before the bar opened. Picture: COLIN TOOKE COLLECTIONTEA-TIME TELLY...the former Rifle Volunteer public house (right) on Blackfriars Road in Yarmouth where young John Annison watched Children's Hour on TV before the bar opened. Picture: COLIN TOOKE COLLECTION

One feature was launched by ex-Gorlestonian Clayton Nichols’ discovery of a So Nice potato crisp bag while clearing out his attic. I recalled that years ago I reported that thousands of similar bags were found when a former Cobholm shop was being emptied.

So Nice crisps were produced by a company with a head office in Apsley Road, Great Yarmouth. They were sold in 3d (old money) bags closely resembling those of brand leader Smiths which had a factory here in Yarmouth for many years.

My column reporting Clayton’s find led to reader Derek Eales e-mailing: “I also have an empty packet exactly the same as the one shown in the Mercury which I found between the pages of an old book bought at Ferrow’s some time ago. I wondered whether So Nice was the original name of Smiths.

“Although I lived in Cobholm throughout the war I cannot remember any mention that Smiths Crisps were ever produced there.”

VISIONARY DESIGNER: former borough surveyor John Cockrill. Picture: SUBMITTEDVISIONARY DESIGNER: former borough surveyor John Cockrill. Picture: SUBMITTED

Well, they were, from 1929 when the company opened a factory on the corner of Century and Marsh Roads before transferring in 1935 to purpose-built premises on Caister Road which closed in 1982.

Clayton was delighted to see the column illustrated with a wartime photograph taken in the Hospital School playground of a Yarmouth-based Home Guard battalion which included his sergeant grandfather Freddy, a former professional soldier. Clayton once owned a similar picture but no longer has it, although he did spot the same one in a local history book he was browsing through.

“I noted that your photo was sourced from Colin Tooke, whom I believe was a member of the Great Yarmouth and District Archaeological Society the same time as I was, around 1979/80,” he adds.

Another Peggotty photograph producing reaction showed two former Labour mayors – the late Cora Batley (1972) and Harry Miller (1977). Gorleston resident John Annison, a Yarmouth Grammar School pupil between 1957 and 1963, tells me: “It’s surprising how old photographs bring back the oddest of memories.

“I was born on Boreham Road, two minutes’ walk from the Rifle Volunteer pub on Blackfriars Road run by Cora Batley and her husband Dougie. It was one of the few places to own a black-and-white television in the mid-1950s, and I was invited to watch Children’s Hour on it.

“Cora’s youngest daughter, Mary, and I were allowed to sit in the bar and watch this programme between 5 and 6 pm. Cora told us we had to be out of the bar by 6pm because they then had to open the pub.”

John also remembers a heated doorstep discussion between his mother and Harry Miller over voting. She told John that Harry Miller was “a stupid man who gave up a potential career as a concert pianist to become a Labour councillor”. Years later John saw Harry Miller playing in the Oompah band in the Winter Gardens on the Wellington Pier.

During his working life John, now retired, was made redundant no fewer than five times, going from textile factory to offshore construction and production to NHS and, finally, local government.

An enduring legacy was left to urban Yarmouth and Gorleston by borough surveyor John William Cockrill, dubbed “Concrete” Cockrill and designer of distinctive buildings like Gorleston Pavilion and Yarmouth School of Art (now apartments). In a column based on the minutes of borough council meetings in 1916, a century ago, I wrongly referred to him as James Cockrill.

“May I gently and politely correct Peggotty,” writes descendant Les Cockrill, “The borough surveyor to whom he refers was John William Cockrill (Uncle Jack to family). James Cockrill (Uncle Jim) was his youngest brother and the only one to not remain within the east of England because he trained as a dispensing chemist, had a business in Sydenham, London, for many years and then became an hotelier in Scotland.”

Without question, the Cockrills made important contributions to their communities here over long decades.

Explains Les: “William and Sarah Cockrill had eight surviving children (plus one who died in infancy): the eldest was John William Cockrill (1849-1924), architect and surveyor, who became our borough surveyor and had two sons - it was his great-grandson, Alex Raleigh, who unveiled the blue commemorative plaque on his former Euston Road house (now the Winchester Hotel) three years ago.

“Next was Edward Cockrill (1851-78), shipwright; then William Ballard Cockrill (1854-1932), architect, postmaster for Gorleston and hotelier - my great-grandfather; followed by Joseph James Cockrill (Uncle Joe, 1856-1932), builder and grandfather of George Cockrill Barnes, one-time diocesan architect.

“Thomas Cockrill (1859-1943), Uncle Tom, architect and surveyor, became borough surveyor at Biggleswade in Bedfordshire; Septimus Waller Cockrill (1861-1924), Uncle Sep, builder; Harriet Hannah Mary Cockrill (1864-1957) married David Lockhart; and finally James Shattock Cockrill (1867-1945), Uncle Jim, dispensing chemist in London and then hotelier in Falkirk, Scotland.”

Finally, as a journalist of many years’ experience, it might well be assumed that it is unlikely that I would be caught out by a word – but it happened recently when I read in the Mercury about the need to recruit newcomers to learn the once-popular pub card game of Euchre because the number of local players is dwindling, putting its future in jeopardy.

Father Peggotty loved that trick-taking pub game, but from the way he pronounced it, I thought it was a local pronunciation of Joker (rhyming with ‘cooker’), the J sounding liquid like a Y. I had never seen the word written.

But all the time it was Euchre! During my newspaper career, if I had written about that game and spelled it Joker, my editor might well have had a quiet word with me had it slipped into the paper...

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