Joe Stirling shares memories with Norwich Time Travellers

Memories of people living and working in Norfolk are being preserved on a new website, which marks the end of a history project involving communities from across the county.

The Historypin Connections project was given £545,555 of Big Lottery funding last year to run three projects in different areas of the country. The Norfolk one has been run by Historypin and Norfolk County Council’s Library and Information Service.

The project aimed to reduce social isolation while creating records of people’s memories, which can be preserved for future generations in a new online community archive. A celebration to mark the end of the work and launch the work on a website is being held at Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library tomorrow (Thursday 13 July).

Norfolk’s older residents have been able to share their life stories, and personal perspectives on the region’s events over the years and their thoughts will provide invaluable insight for people looking at the history of Norfolk in years to come.

Library staff worked with organisations including Age UK, local care homes, history groups and promoted the project through dementia cafes and mobile libraries in order to gain more than 400 participants for the project. Some of the work produced by the Norwich Time Travellers group, involved in the project, has already been on display at the library as part of the Labyrinth of Lost Letters project.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “The project has been invaluable at not only creating a rich resource of memories, but also in bringing people together and reducing social isolation. It fits well as part of our council’s In Good Company project as an accessible activity for older people at risk of loneliness.”

Included on the website are stories by service users of the Norfolk Deaf Association’s befriending service, who have been meeting with staff and volunteers at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library to record their memories – including the added difficulties that being a school child with hearing loss can bring. These sessions were specially adapted for people with hearing loss, who otherwise find it challenging to communicate in a group setting.

Pam Spicer, Service Manager at NDA, said “This was a wonderful experience for our befriending service users. It was lovely to hear their life stories and share some fascinating insights into their interesting lives. Thank you to the library staff for looking after us so well.”

Rachel Willis, Historypin Connections project coordinator, said “It has been a real privilege to meet and record the memories of so many interesting people across the county. My involvement in this project has given me a deeper understanding of the last 100 years of Norfolk’s history and the impact that huge events like the Second World War had on individual’s lives.”


The project website can be found here:

These are some examples of people’s comments recorded as part of the project:  

Tully Walker, born 1924

In 1940 I started work at Norwich Union, travelling up and down on the train. You never quite knew whether the trains were running or not and when they came back you weren’t sure how you were going to get home. Thorpe Station was bombed… I remember standing outside Thorpe Station thinking “Oh, no trains!” So we stopped a bread van and asked if he’d give us a lift as they made the bread in Yarmouth or Gorleston. So we said “We’ll be quiet – if anyone opens the door it’s only us loaves!” Well you got through the days didn’t you!

Keith Obee, born 1945

The village pub (the Brick Kilns) was a very small pub… still had sand on the floor and all the beer barrels were on a rack at the back, which I frequently helped load. When you used to go up there and get the vegetables and eggs and that over the counter… they used to let the donkey come in the bar. Sophie the donkey, we used to feed her over the bar.

David Tye, born 1940

My memories of the war are obscure but I can remember my brother nearly falling down the stairs at number 38 when the sirens sounded one night. He was trying to put both of his legs in one trouser hole.

Kathleen Harris, born 1933

(At home) there were quite a few rats who would frighten my mother by making little holes in the ceiling and peeping through occasionally.

William Thomas, born 1917

I could never afford a bike, the bike I bought was for 5 shillings, 25 pence, a very old heavy bike, it was called a Hunter. It took much more energy to move the bike than to move yourself!

Roy Howard, born 1942

I used to go to see our neighbours with my mother on a Friday night, I was about 6 at the time… they used to sit and knit and talk. What amazed me one night when I was round there was they had a black thing up the corner, and all of a sudden that rang. My neighbour picked it up and answered it… I couldn’t understand it. When I got older I realised it was a telephone and I’d never seen one before.

Age UK Still on the Ball Football Reminiscence Group

“My first introduction to football was just playing in the back garden… this progressed to having a kick about in the street. At school I played my first eleven a side game with goal posts and nets.”

“We used to go to school and the football game would start before school and then at every break time the same game would be going on… it didn’t matter how long was in between, we’d all come back out to play, same players, same team, to carry on the game. How did we keep track of the goals!”