Mystery photos in Docking

Docking Heritage members with one of the exhibition displays.  From left - Jean Hewitt, Helena Aldis, Joyce Torrice, Roland Axman and Nigel Day. Photo: PETER BIRD ANL-150427-101849001
Docking Heritage members with one of the exhibition displays. From left - Jean Hewitt, Helena Aldis, Joyce Torrice, Roland Axman and Nigel Day. Photo: PETER BIRD ANL-150427-101849001

An exhibition this weekend by the Docking Heritage Group will feature several mystery photographs taken during the First World War.

One is believed to have been taken during the visit of a General Horace Smith-Dorrien to Houghton Hall where some of the 1st and 2nd Loyal Lovat Scouts were billeted, another may show the Scouts during mortar practise, possibly near the coast and a third appears to be at Holkham Hall.

Provided by the Highlander Museum at Fort George, near Inverness, they show members of the Scottish unit who were stationed across West Norfolk, including Docking, in 1915 before shipping out to Gallipoli.

These pictures are only one strand of the many-faceted exhibition of the history of the village to be held over the bank holiday weekend at the Ripper Memorial Hall. Amateur archaeologists and historians, a metal detectorist and a keen archivist, who has collated thousands of photographs taken by residents over the last 100 years, have produced a fascinating insight into Docking’s rich past, which also includes genealogical research into long-established families stretching back some 400 years.

“The trenches may be more recent but it’s part of history that had been forgotten,” said Nigel Day.

Recently stumbled upon by accident in Dreamy Hollow, on part of what was once Docking Common, the area is slowly being cleared of a decades of brambles and bushes.

Nigel Day, John Smith and Tony Armstrong have visited both Ypres in Belgium and the Highlander Museum at Fort George, near Inverness. “When we visited trenches in Sanctuary Wood in Belgium we found the trench networks were very similar to the ones in our wood.”

Unlike many trenches protected by corrugated iron – also known as wiggly tin – these ones were reinforced with stakes and brushwood.

But new this year will be photographs and information on the large number of thriving shops and business that once flourished in the village from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, adding another strand to a village once called Dry Docking because it had no water supply of its own until a deep well was sunk 230ft into the ground.

Traditional crafts were still being practiced little more than 50 years ago. These included a harness-maker, a wagon-maker, a wheelwright, a blacksmith and a gingerbeer maker. Roland Axman, Michael Strutt and Helena Aldis have investigated this.

The exhibition is open from 11am-4pm on Sunday and bank holiday Monday.