It only seems five minutes ago I commented that Swaffham’s Pedlar sign was looking a little battered, but this was in fact before last summer’s holiday season.
Well, thanks to the generosity of Colin Yorke, a retired schoolmaster living in our town and a keen woodworker in his retirement, we are to have a rejuvenated sign.
Colin deserves the thanks of us all for taking on this considerable task and for giving his time.
With the Pedlar hitting the headlines recently, there has been a lot of discussion on just how old the Old Boy is.
Certainly Harry Carter created the figure that we have been used to looking at, I believe in the early 1960s.
I remember Harry visiting our firm’s carpenters’ workshop to discuss the timber he required.
Harry’s figure was a faithful reproduction of an earlier sign, or perhaps more than one, with the original Pedlar being put up in the 1920s.
Some of us will have photos of that original ceremony with many townsfolk stood around. Major Holmes is prominent in the picture, as is Mr Heyhoe, the auctioneer, who was Marion Robinson’s father.
Marion married Cecil Robinson, who had a hairdressing and tobacconist’s business in Station Street for many years before moving to his Westward Ho shop adjacent to the Assembly Rooms.
One early photo of the Pedlar shows the Bagge Memorial, unfortunately long gone, stood nearby on what is now the Pedlar’s car park.
I don’t doubt I am not alone in wondering who designed and carved the original Pedlar sign.
As it has such an important place in our town’s recent history one would think that somewhere the origins of that iconic figure are recorded.
We will see, but certainly we are indebted to Colin Yorke for providing us with a new Pedlar, and let’s hope his name is better remembered in future than those of the earlier carvers of this sign.
With our recent cold spell now gone, I spoke the other day to Bob Bonas about earlier winters when ice and snow abounded.
Bob was telling me of his work which involved gritting local ice-bound roads.
This involved a lorry visiting Southacre Pit, where sand was loaded by hand after the frozen crust was removed.
On the highway, three men stood in the back of the lorry and shovelled the sand out on to the road as the lorry moved fairly briskly along.
One route was from Swaffham into Narborough, along the A47, then a further journey to grit the road to RAF Marham.
I certainly don’t think any health and safety procedures would allow such an operation these days, but in the 1950s, and perhaps into the ‘60s, not a second thought was given to the danger involved and it was all carried out smoothly and with no fuss.
Bob told me that Cyril Meadows oversaw the work. I seem to remember that Cyril lived in Sporle and I remember him and his bike.
He was a stalwart of our town football team in the late 1950s and into the ‘60s, being a keen committee member and “sponge man” for the first team.
When Cyril arrived on the pitch with his bucket, cold water and sponge I seem to remember any injury we may have had quickly got better!
Another local character that we would, and should, do well to remember.