Scrapbooks reveal life of town over 40-year period
Scrapbooks kept by a local woman detailing the everyday lives of people in Fakenham and surrounds over a 40-year period have been put on display.
The scrapbooks were kept by Mabel Nelson, of Colkirk, who meticulously clipped and pasted hundreds of news items from local papers into 11 scrapbooks from the 1930’s to the 1970’s.
The books are now part of the Fakenham Community Archive and last Friday they were on display in Fakenham library.
“We were donated them because when Mabel died she left them to her next door neighbour, Mrs Robinson, and eventually they were donated to us,” said Lyn Maple, archive chairman.For years they had lain forgotten in a suitcase under a bed.
The interest in this time-line of local history is such that there was a constant stream of visitors who carefully leafed their way through the now fragile books which rested on cushions to help conserve them.
Mrs Maple pointed out that there was little point in keeping the scrap books if they could not be read.
“There are loads of funerals and weddings,” said Mrs Maple.“But there is also a good sprinkling of the many small but interesting things people did as they went about their daily life”.
One reader who popped into the library found, to her surprise, not only a picture of herself when a girl guide in 1958 but a news item about her sister, Diana Fellowes, when young, who had pushed the family cat around in a dolls’ pram.
Visitors were surprised to find that the clippings were not pasted into blankscrapbooks. Indeed, Mrs Nelson had been an early re-cycler.
Her scrapbooks were old school text books, glossy women’s magazines and a Women’s Institute booklet, their printed contents covered up by what age has now turned into fraying and browning newsprint.
The scrapbooks kept by Mabel Nelson covered varied topics, with some surprising items jumping out at the reader.
Despite the mainly local news there was one prominent item featuring the funeral in Fakenham in 1933 of George Edwards who was a driving force behind the formation of an agricultural union that became the National Union of Agricultural Workers until it was incorporated into the Transport and General Workers Union in 1982.
She also had a soft spot for famous TV personality Eamonn Andrews, who is probably best remembered for bringing the This is Your Life programme to Britain in the 1950’s.
Mr Andrews appeared to be her hero,” said Lyn Maple, the chairwoman of Fakenham Community Archive,who have charge of the remarkable scrapbooks.