It’s a bright summer’s day in 1970 and I am sitting on Swaffham Market place, in my small car, at lunchtime. Sparrows chirp and fluff themselves up among the dust in road gutters. Blackbirds and thrushes twitter over my head.
Why am I here? Well there is a certain young lady who walks home for lunch at about this time. While waiting, I notice the small number of cars parked on our market place. There is a photo somewhere of that quiet and tranquil day.
But the quiet hides the liveliness of our town, its traders and businesses. A delivery has just left Back’s Wine shop. Hairdressers are to the fore with Ben Ripper busy together with Johnny Bell in his emporium.
Eric Fountain is attending to a customer’s needs in the jewellers next to Martin’s cycle shop where Bill Williams tends to a customer’s needs with Henry Hudson repairing bicycles out the back.
The Old Angel inn had the Jay family in residence with Peter Bacon’s motorcycle business at one end. Basil Starling tends to his successful greengrocery business.
Across the Market Place Plowright’s premises stand impressively with PP&H round the corner. Stanley Rowe stands in the doorway of his Chocolate Box shop.
Up the road, we have the Co-Op store with Mrs. Tuddenham’s fish and chip shop next door. Peter Myhill has his pet and garden shop trading strongly with the considerable support and help of Les and Doris Knights. Across the road the Hayes’ family run their picture gallery business. I could go on.
If I were to attempt to park at that same spot today I would have to be there early. Our town centre is now almost one big static car park and this may well be one reason why some town businesses are struggling.
Many townspeople agree that car parking organisation is important and, without better management we, our traders and businesses, will continue to suffer. All those years ago it all seemed timeless and idyllic and, as a town, we prospered.
How it has all changed, but not, thank goodness, my personal circumstances. I eventually got my date. We have now been married for over 44 years and we are fairing far better than town trade currently does, with our population ever growing. The car parking issue requires an urgent review, leading hopefully to far better organisation.