Roys of Wroxham 1961 – update

Whilst I’m still officially on a break from website duties, I can never pass up the chance to delve into Broadland’s history a little further if the opportunity presents itself. Whenever I have ten minutes to spare, you’ll still find me on Twitter under the @norfolkmemories user name, where I post the odd photo or old postcard, or links to videos and other bits of Norfolk Broads history which I find interesting. Whilst predominantly focusing on Broadland, I do actually cast the net a little wider on there to cover the wider Norfolk & Suffolk area.

I know that many don’t like Twitter, but I love its immediacy and I’ve met some fascinating people over there, not to mention discovering a lot more about the regions history. It was via Twitter that an interesting update to a blog post from December 2011 came this week. The photograph, below left, was sent to me by Katy Roy and showed the presentation to Hubert Newstead on his retirement as manager of the ironmongery department of Roys in 1961. Katy wondered whether anyone could put names to some of the faces. Quite by chance, I discovered that fellow Tweeter Gordon Bambridge worked in junior management at Roys in the early 1960s. He had this to say about the photograph and his time working at the company:

Roys of Wroxham staff members c1961

First from left is John? Ebdell who was a Calor gas fitter who worked from the store, he lived on Stalham Road in Hoveton. 4th from the left (lady with glasses) was an assistant in Housewares. 5th from the left, peering from the back, was ****? Gardiner, a carpet fitter working from the store. I think he lived in Sprowston, certainly in the Norwich area. 7th from the left could be Jean *****? from Salhouse, an avid reader of adventure novels who worked in China and Glass and cycled home to give lunch to her mother each day. 13th from the left is an ironmongery assistant who lived in Aylsham on Buxton Road, I think his first name was Walter. 14th from the left is Raymond Allen who took over from Bert (Newstead) as manager of Ironmongery. Of course, Mr and Mrs Newstead (front), who I think lived on Tunstead Road and often dropped in after retirement. Roys had been his life’s work. I believe that all in the picture were part of the management team and the two elegant ladies in the front were Bert’s daughters, but I’m not really sure.

The old ironmongery building was a rabbit warren over, I think, three floors, and a cold building hence the sweaters under jackets, all with pens in pockets. It’s interesting that the presentation was in the department and not in either the office (very nice) or the canteen which was above the greengrocery and wines area. Roys in those days, when Fred Roy had wrested control back into the family, was a good employer providing apprenticeships and lots of support to young workers in all departments. I was recruited by Robert (Nobby) Clarke and was given good junior managerial experience at a very young age which led to me eventually managing a good sized wholesale company and then starting my own business, much thanks to Roys and their support of young workers. Like the TV series Mr Selfridge, Fred knew all of his staff by name and daily walked through the whole store, a practice I followed when I was a manager of many staff.

Many thanks to Gordon Bambridge for allowing to share his memories on here. I’ll leave you with another of the photographs from the Roy Family Collection, which I don’t think I posted before. It also dates from 1961 and shows the Roys delivery vans lined up outside the store. Katy Roy told me that they were ex-Royal Mail vans which, so the story went, had the “al Mail” part painted over, and an S added to leave the Roys name! I suspect that the story may be apocryphal, but it’s a fabulous photograph.

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