Old Fakenham in the spotlight

An RE7 single-engined bomber drew large crowds when it landed on Hempton Green, near Fakenham, in 1916
An RE7 single-engined bomber drew large crowds when it landed on Hempton Green, near Fakenham, in 1916
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A new book with many photographs of old Fakenham has just been published, produced by dedicated local historian Jim Baldwin.

The pictures come from the archives of the Fakenham Local History Society, the Fakenham Community Archive and the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History.

A pre-first world war photograph of Eke's ladies' clothes shop in Oak Street, Fakenham, now a Salvation Army shop ANL-151125-123450001

A pre-first world war photograph of Eke's ladies' clothes shop in Oak Street, Fakenham, now a Salvation Army shop ANL-151125-123450001

Mr Baldwin has had a life-long interest in the history of Fakenham and a year ago produced his sixth book on the history of the area, Discovering Old Fakenham.

He said: “Since then I’ve had access to move photographs and I found them so fascinating I thought other people would, too.”

The result is Discovering More Old Fakenham, which mainly spans the 19th century to the mid-20th century. “Some of the pictures reveal hidden gems, bits of the town that mainly no longer exist.”

There are pictures of the town railway which closed for passengers under Beeching in 1964 though goods traffic continued up to the 1980’s.

Jim Baldwin with his latest book against the backdrop of Fakenham Market Place at a time when only a privileged could afford a motor car MLNF15PB11110 ANL-151125-122649001

Jim Baldwin with his latest book against the backdrop of Fakenham Market Place at a time when only a privileged could afford a motor car MLNF15PB11110 ANL-151125-122649001

Naturally the gasworks itself features – closed in 1965 and now, as a museum since 1985, the only remaining small town gasworks in England.

Mementoes of two world wars are included.

There is picture of townsfolk flocking to see a first world war RE7 bomber aeroplane which landed on Hempton Green in 1916 and a 1918 photograph of a crowded market place in November 1918 when peace was declared.

A more recent 1943 picture is of a prisoner of war camp at Pudding Norton which held both Italians and Germans, many of whom stayed on after the war.

TV presenter Michael Palin's grandparents, Dr and Mrs Palin, who lived in Oak Street between 1868-1937 ANL-151125-122922001

TV presenter Michael Palin's grandparents, Dr and Mrs Palin, who lived in Oak Street between 1868-1937 ANL-151125-122922001

The oldest photograph shows the circus coming to town in the 1870’s and the latest is of TV star John Inman with Anglia TV co-founder, Dick Joice, on Fakenham racecourse in 1985.

Also pictured is prime minister Clement Attlee, at a 1950 service at Queen’s Road cemetery to honour Sir George Edwards, one of the founders of the Agricultural Workers’ Union.

Another picture is of Michael Palin’s grandparents, Dr and Mrs Palin, who lived in a house where the Community Centre now stands.

There is also a photograph of a now largely forgotten engineer, John Cousin Gorrod, who invented tubular forks for bicycles.

At 8pm on Friday night (Nov 27), town mayor, Adrian Vertigan, will officially launch the book at Fakenham Community Centre where Mr Baldwin will give a talk entitled Discovering old Fakenham.

The book, price £9.50, is on sale at local shops or can be ordered online from www.jimbooks.co.uk.