My first sight of Mattishall was in February 1956 when I was 12
years old and we were allocated a new council house on the Parker
road/ Weir Avenue estate. This was quite a change for me as we
came from a village that did not have electricity or mains water.
On the following Monday I became
a pupil at Mattishall School in Mr. Leeder’s class (he was
the head master and known to the older boys as Bunny Leeder)
There were at that time four classrooms
Mrs. Taylor taught the 5 to seven year olds., then they would
move up to Miss Richmond’s class until they were about nine
or ten, before moving on to Mr. Liddel finally at 12 moving into
the headmasters class where you stayed until you reached 15. There
was the option to go on to secondary modern school in Dereham
at 11 or 14 for those that wanted to.
Mr Leeder was close to retirement
when I arrived he was a very smart man who loved his garden and
kept bees at his bungalow along the Dereham road. He was also
a lay reader in the church.
(Mr. Leeder retired in July 1957
and we had a supply Teacher Mr. Bennett from the September until
Christmas when Mr. Sanderson took over, Then in July 58 we were
told the School was to become a primary School so all pupils over
11 had to move on.)
Mrs. Taylor and her Husband ran London House Stores and sold mainly
Miss Mabel Richmond lived in a cottage
on Cemetery Road (Now Burgh Lane)
Several pupils came from Hockering
on bicycles as their school only took pupils up to age eleven
and a lot came from East Tuddenham either on the bus or on foot.
Another group came from Welborne
after the school in Brandon Parva burned down in about 1957.
Usually on one afternoon a week
the classes would be shuffled around so that Mr Leeder would teach
the boys gardening and Mrs Taylor would teach the girls needlework
or country dancing. Other afternoons Mr Leeder would read to us
(Seems incredible now to imagine 12 to 15 year olds sitting listening
to someone reading.) I can still remember him reading from a Christmas
Carol ”Marley was dead, dead as a doornail” and looking
over his glasses. I also remember him reading Kennleworth and
several other books .
Names I remember at school from that time include
From Hockering there was Pauline
and Michael Lake, Basil and Daphne Collins, Rex and Daphne Newell,
Colin and Donald Pardon, Ann Bush, Terry Sapey, Marjorie Whatling,
Ursula Thompson, Maureen Robinson, Shirley Buxton, Judith Brighty,
From Mattishall there was Margaret
Hawkins, Heather and Brian Beavis, Heather George, Eileen Eke,
Norma Harris, Mary Bingham, Janice Baker, Janice Blowers, Dorothy
Forder, Stanley Burrell, Stephen Nichols, Roger Whyatt, Mabel
Norton, Ann Earl, David Smith. Anne Fulcher, Freddie Garner, Richard
Reynolds, Graham Faircloth,
Out of school there was Girl Guides run by Mollie Pearce and held
in the infants class of the school, also Mrs. Moy ran St. Johns
ambulance cadets in the St. Johns hall next to the swan. There
were also many other events in the St. Johns hall I remember one
man called Marcus La Touche coming there with his dog called Viscount
who understood 1000 words as well as adding and subtracting!
Three pubs were still open The Eight Ringers run by the Mr &
Mrs Beckam, the Swan run by Freddie Footer and his wife Marjorie
and the White House run by Mr and Mrs Moses. But of course youngsters
didn’t go into pubs like they do now.
Mr. And Mrs Woods ran a shop at the end of Welgate Road there
was another one where Mattishall news is as well as London house
stores opposite the Church, Don Reynolds had a grocers Shop as
well as the Fish and chip shop a couple called Sweetman were in
Victoria stores and a family called Wright had a shop in Mill
Fred and Gerald Hewitt were in the Butchers shop, the door was
on the side the and when you ordered what you wanted they cut
it up on a large wooden block in the middle of the shop. I remember
they were always very polite and called everyone “Mam”
Mrs. Littlemore was the Postmistress,
Her first Husband Mr. Greef had built up the Garage next door
but after his death it became a separate business and was run
by Percy Peck.
There was also a Garage at the end
of Welgate Road which I think had been a blacksmiths it was just
sheds then and it was later that a brick building was put up.
Dick Norton ran the bakery from
Church Plain before moving to the bigger new building at South
Green (now Gaskins Garage) Billy Norton sold corn meal and animal
foodstuff from his house on Dereham Road.
Dalton & Ralph Turner had a
farm where Willow Close is now, Dalton used to deliver milk on
his bike to residents.
Mr. Newstead who lived opposite
the vicarage used to run a taxi service as well as mend shoes,
He later moved to a house at the end of what is now called New
Lane it was then known as Drs Lane. Also in Drs Lane was a derelict
cottage used by the local Tramp Bob Leeder a real character who
used to do odd jobs for people for a meal or some clothes he was
always very nice and got on well with everyone.
The fair used to be held on the football field next to the Congregational
Chapel in the summer.
The Rev. Gordon Geddes lived in
the vicarage opposite the church, and looked after Mattishall
Church and North Tuddenham. (Mattishall Burgh was grouped with
Hockering and Welborne was with Yaxham)
Rev Geddes had lost his wife by
then and brought up his four children on his own but always found
time to be involved in all village events. My Mother was a member
of the ARP run by Rev Geddes. There were tennis courts in the
vicarage gardens and we were always welcome to use them.
There were three brothers called
Drew who lived along the Dereham Road. One used to sell second
hand furniture he was known to us as “Dickie Drew”
he used a horse and cart to move it. The other two brothers were
Deaf and Dumb They would often sit in an old shelter Opposite
the Eight Ringers.