John Broadwater (January 1998)
Whilst interviewing Geoff Broadwater for his own 'Times Remembered' he showed me the following 'rhyme portrait' of Feltwell as written by his father John Broadwater. This is the first time that these words have seen print and I am sure they will bring back memories for many of our readers.
J. B. came to Feltwell in 1903,
A Manchester House apprentice to be.
There a stock was kept too numerous to mention,
There for senior citizens no old age pension.
For full-time workers however willing,
The average wage was about twelve shillings.
No forty hour week in those days long ago,
More often from day light to dark it was so.
Once in 5 years for a few elderly folk,
There was provided a top coat or cloak.
The Mundeford Charity made this provision,
Now such garments would be held in derision.
Bonnets and shawls were frequently worn,
But trousers suits surely the ladies would scorn.
I never heard the gleaners bell,
For in 1898 the tower of St Nicholas fell.
To the credit of some gleaners let it be said,
Their toil was rewarded providing their bread.
Through dark wintry days the corn they had found,
By 'Baker King' freely without charge was ground.
The Oak tree and Elm Tree like sentinels stood,
But now the Oak has gone from the road.
Amid transformations early and late,
Feltwell still retains its 'Figure Eight'.
There's been demolitions here and there,
And many erections I declare.
Now Three Thousand Five Hundred the population,
Surely ready for township elevation.
On St Valentine morn the children would sing,
And scramble for what the hereto would fling.
Hot pennies from his oven the baker would throw,
Occasionally cooled by a thin layer of snow.
From shops nuts and oranges were hurled to the singers,
And there would be some trodden of fingers.
The schoolmaster displeased because the scholars were late,
Before they set to work on the slate.
The first motors were owned by the Doctor and Squire,
But the farmers still rode in carts somewhat higher.
The three bells of St Mary's ding-dong would ring,
Calling people to worship and with the choir to sing.
Methodist Union brought together the Wesleyans and Prims,
So now they all sing from the same book of hymns.
Seventy years ago in the Mission hall,
The YMCA to young people did call.
Near St. Nicholas Church was the old 'Pound',
Where years ago the lost could be found.
East Hall then the residence of the squire,
Now we find instead there are flats for hire.
The spacious Rectory shares a similar fate,
Accommodating our cousins from the United States.
The 'Star Naked' has provided a plot for the school,
Where future citizens are prepared for their role.
We hope they'll respond and each play their part,
To keep Britain great right from the start.
In their active adult life sharing its cares,
Effecting many improvements in following years.
Doing their very best who can tell,
The valuable contribution from Feltwell.
Do you ken blind Harry with his bell,
When Chequers Hill Pot Auction he would tell.
Another bellman, Jerry Aspin calling 'Fish',
Offering you a tempting dish.
Not forgetting the mussel man from Lynn,
Making known his wares with quite a din.
Two days in November the 'Feltwell Fair',
Held in the Fair Close for many a year.
An auction took place on the first day,
When one could see a miscellaneous display.
The caravan dwellers set out their stalls,
Hoping thereby to attract many calls.
Mrs Rolfe had her stall of good rock,
Demonstrating how strands could be turned to hard block.
Of course in those days sugar was cheap,
Nowadays we all know the price is so steep.
For those who had any money to spare,
Lloyds Bank provided a receptacle near.
At the top of Bell Street under the roof of The Oak,
On Mondays could show they were provident folk
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