Past comes alive at History Fair
Organisers were delighted with the response as the Docking Heritage Group hosted their second History Fair at the Ripper Hall over the May bank holiday weekend.
Fourteen history and heritage groups from across North and West Norfolk took part.
As well as the hosts, the participating groups were King’s Lynn’s True’s Yard, King’s Lynn Metal Detectors, Downham Market, RAF Sculthorpe, Hunstanton, Heacham, Thornham, Great Massingham, Stanhoe, RAF Bircham Newton, Ringstead and Sedgeford’s Historical and Archaeological Research project (SHARP).
RAF Bircham Newton Heritage Centre volunteer Mick Fisher said their future was under threat because of the uncertainty surrounding the Construction Industry Training Board complex, one of whose buildings they use.
He said: “We’re all about RAF Bircham Newton. We really can’t go anywhere else.”
“We’re still getting new artefacts, documents and photographs from the public.”
A host of fascinating objects dating back to the Stone Age were displayed accompanied by documents and photos from bygone ages.
Creating a lot of interest was the RAF Sculthorpe Heritage Centre, which was formed 18 months ago by Ian Brown and is based at the base’s old pub, the Hawk’s Haven, now the Wicken Green community centre.
Already artefacts of the airfield’s history with pride of place going to a display of parts from an RB66 Destroyer.
Mr Brown said: “In 1958 the plane had a hydraulic failure. The crew put it onto autopilot to fly out over the North Sea and then ejected safely. But instead it flew at 500 mph over Norwich and drilled itself into the ground near Saxlingham.”
The centre has acquired an engine and some wreckage. Only seven of the planes, all in America, still exist.
Docking resident Sandra Howard brought a World War I letter written from the front in Amiens, detailing the death of an unnamed Docking resident on June 4, 1916.
The date and the war front was enough for the Docking Heritage Group to identify him as a George Batteley.
The letter-writer, Charles Eggleton, was himself killed the following month.
Gillian Beckett, from Stanhoe, produced a box of miscellaneous late Victorian lace, embroidered handkerchiefs and several Christening gowns which looked as good as new when washed by Jean Hewitt.
Downham Market and District Heritage Society trustee, Kathleen Riseman, was there to introduce visitors to a history group that, although formed in 1995, only found permanent headquarters five years ago when they took over the old fire station and, with the aid of lottery grants, refurbished it.
Working with the University of the Third Age, they have created four historic walks around the town.
Docking Heritage Group secretary, Helena Aldis, welcomed the recent new addition to their display of a 1932 auction catalogue detailing 37 lots to be sold by the Stanhoe Estate.
They included the Crown Pub, now the Dabbling Duck, the village post office, houses such as Stanhoe Hall and The Grange and agricultural holdings.
The catalogue was the property of the local station master, Thomas Hood, who bought two cottages.
Metal detecting was represented by the West Norfolk Search and Recovery Group, known as the King’s Lynn Metal Detectorists, which has over 30 members.
Vice-chairman Mark Nicholson said: “While we are out searching for metal objects we are also looking for other items. Our whole idea and ethos is to record history in the shape of flint objects, including stone age axes, copper objects and pottery and glassware.”
These are all recorded on a government-funded database which adds to a current national record of archaeological finds.
Meanwhile, members of the SHARP project explained their aim to create a more complete picture of the Anglo-Saxon brewing industry, following last year’s discovery of a 1,200-year-old malt house complex, the first start-to-finish beer-brewing site to be uncovered in the county.