Shut the Gate!

Recollections of Arthur Lark (born 1911)

Transcribed from a recorded interview (August 2001)

"... this is since the war, I had a young fella I worked with, he was sort of a trainee, come to work with me on the gardens, and we were going to Berney by train and we get off at the station and there was all sheep all round about. Well, of course I've already told you, I've done a lot of work on the marshes, more or less a marshman if you like, years of it I had, Caister and Halvergate triangle. Well of course it was a criminal offence to leave a gate open. Marshmen, they didn't do that, criminal. When we come off, you got off the train and you walked through what obviously had been the garden of the house, where the house used to be, and there was a little white gate we walked through to get on the track what led to the mill. There was a little shed still there and there was somebody who used to come there, leave their boots there, their rubber boots, and get on the train to go to Yarmouth. Their little boots were still in there, where they'd come across the marshes. I looked in there to see it, being nosy you know, saw the little boots in there, pair of red ones I believe. But anyway, when we got to this white gate and went through it, there had been a bit of string round it, like binder twine, to keep it shut but it was so frayed and what have you, you couldn't tie it up. And I was quite concerned that that wouldn't tie and there was all these sheep about. I though to myself, there's nothing to stop them going on the line. Well, we wandered across and I say, on the marshes, I was quite concerned over this. Thought to myself, if they were to push that gate, they'd be on the line.

So anyway, we wandered across but from the station, there was a tractor I think. A tractor and trailer or a truck of some kind, and this man must have come from the pub and he obviously wasn't a marshman. He was leaving this station just ahead of us. Now, he know that gate was open but he probably didn't understand but me, I was horrified to see this. So when I finally got over, he was having a gossip with the lady Hewitt what was looking after the mill at that time. And of course we were going to have a look at the mill, us two, the young fella I towed with me. I see him talking to this lady, so I knew she was in charge of the... that's the farmhouse. So I went over and spoke to her, I say 'I'm a little bit concerned, I now come to that station, that gates open and you can't shut it'. She said 'Oh, we'll have to do something about that'. But one of the gates, from the station to the mill, a metal gate that was, one of the latest you know. That was off the hinges and laying flat and that fella had driven over the top of that. So, I thought to myself 'Well, was that open or was it shut'. I could tell he wasn't a Norfolk countryman, you know, he didn't sound... the accent.

Anyway, we went off, me with that other young fella, 'cos we were going to walk to Yarmouth We got so far along the wall and there's a part coming quite close to the line, in't there? Lockgate Mill, yeah, Lockgate Mill, that's right. We got coming past there, walking along, and there was this shunting engine going past. And he shouted to us 'Bah, Rah, Rah, you've left them gates open. You know, I thought, this fella with the tractor, he got the wind up at Berney, and he'd blamed... that's them chaps from Yarmouth, you know. I was in two minds to call in... I say to my fella 'I'll call into the station to see the stationmaster and tell 'em'. I said 'It's that idiot, he's not a countryman or he wouldn't have left it like it. I never got that bit but I never did go into the station so he was trying to blame me. He'd got at the wrong one, I could tell him more about the marshes than he knew about it.