|Holidaymakers to Potter Heigham|
Recollections of Francis Wicks (born 1915)
Transcribed from a recorded interview (August 2001)
"What about market day at Stalham?"
"Tuesday, was that a busy day?"
"Yeah, yes, that was a busy day because you used to get a lot of people off the train for that, for market day. They used to take a lot of stuff back, old women with their bags. No there wasn't much to go back regards to Potter."
"Did you go to Catfield station at all?"
"No I didn't go to Catfield. No, the stationmaster at Catfield, Mr. Philpott, he's dead now poor old fella, he was a nice man. When Mr. Foster retired, he had to retire on account of old age I believe, Mr. Philpott come over and took Catfield with Potter. He used to just come over the mornings, do the books and one thing and another. And after he used to say good-bye, the station was all in our hands then. Well you know we were still responsible for what tickets were sold and we were also responsible for the money. You couldn't put it in the bank. You know where we used to put the money?"
"Go on, tell me"
"Underneath the bottom of a coal chute what was there. Bottom of the coal chute was hollow, you see. There wasn't a lot of cash in the bag, we used to stand an old coal chute on top of it. We didn't used to have many tickets from holidaymakers, not going back, because they had a return ticket you see. We didn't have to issue many, no. Friday night was a devil of a night, Friday night, you got visitors walking up from off the boats, 'What time does the train go to London?'. That was another thing, we used to have what they called the Holiday Camps Express on a Saturday. The train went to London, used to go via Cambridge. Used to go to North Walsham then hook an engine on the other end and then they go off that way to Cambridge. I've seen that train, without a lie, standing all in the guards wagon, packed in there, 'cos they have so many... camps express."
"How many coaches were on the train?"
"Mostly, I think about ten, yes, about ten. But the other one, the Derby one used to stop here, used to have people come to you, 'Can you tell us whether there's any seats on the train?' I say 'No, I'll go and see the signalman and ask him'. Billy Pitchers, he was a nice man, he used to find out when it left Hemsby whether there was any seats on the train. Very often used to drop you a drink for doing it, they were very pleased. Then we used to hope we were right when they come in. They used to tell them front of the train or middle of the train or back. One or two of them used to move and the others used to see them move. They moved and all, they thought they knew something was about."
"When the train had ten coaches on, could they all fit on the platform?"
"No, no, they had to pull up sometimes, especially coming in, 'cos then when you pulled the train up, some of the last coaches were still against the gates so therefore the gates were locked a little bit longer. We used to go out shouting 'Potter H'am' and hoping you see someone put their hand or arm out the door. You knew they wanted to get out then. Then when they got out there was five or six bags of luggage to come out and all. We used to get them out on the platform, have a barrow for them, put them on, used to wheel them back. Course they all got to come the other side of the line, you see. The line was there across the road and the boats were all this side. There often used to be a taxi up there waiting for them."
"What about during the winter, was it really quiet?"
"Very quiet during the winter. Saturday was a fairly busy day, for people going to Yarmouth, and Tuesday weren't so bad. Some of the poor old dears used to go on the train. The train used to leave here about Ten O'Clock on Tuesday morning, and get back at half past two, I remember that as well as anything. Well they'd go to the market you see and there was a cafe or something, get a cup of tea and a bit of food. The old people didn't used to worry so much about food."