History in the making at Docking

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A Docking heritage group are planning their most ambitious exhibition to date to mark the tenth anniversary since their formation.

They hope the local history fair, which is being held over the early May bank holiday weekend, will involve around 25 other history groups in North West Norfolk.

The groups all research and record aspects of the history of their area. Some have researched back thousands of years, others concentrated on more recent history.

Their voluntary work has resulted in the collection of a welter of archaeological artefacts, photographs, family trees, plans, written records and oral recordings.

Several discoveries have filled in important gaps in the history of this county, whilst some chance findings are interesting but less important to a historian or archaeologist.

Actor Richard Burton, TV’s James Heriott, of All Creatures Great and Small fame and Warren Mitchell, best known as Cockney bigot, Alf Garnett, together with footballer Danny Blanchflower were all billeted in Docking before demob in the village during the Second World War.

They were RAF personnel and Docking was the site of an initially dummy airfield to draw German bombers away from RAF Bircham Newton but was also later used for many offensive operations by Coastal Command whilst also contributing to the first 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen in June 1942.

Group secretary Helena Aldis said: “We believe this history fair is the first in West Norfolk. We all work in isolation and this is a new idea to get us all working together.”

The group hope it will kick-start a collaboration that will enable groups to learn from each other.

If it works, Mrs Aldis believes that together the groups will be able to piece together a better story of the history of this part of Norfolk.

Docking has been in the forefront of researching family trees and has several stretching back hundreds of years.

But she said some generations created gaps in their family history by moving to other parts of Norfolk or out of the county altogether.

Combined research should produce more complete family tree records.

If a success, one idea is that all the groups combine to produce a Facebook page to enable a wider audience to access the research.

The event will be held in the village’s Ripper Hall and the adjacent St. Mary’s Parish Church between 10am and 5pm each day.