Foxearth and District Local History Society – Report of meeting 10th November

The Society’s meeting on 10th November took on a somewhat improvisatory character as the billed archive film was delayed when no one present knew the password to get the computer going! It fell to the resourceful Corinne Cox to go home and return with her lap top and assorted cables and in due time her expertise thankfully did the trick. In the meantime Secretary Clare Mathieson outlined some possible visits for next year’s programme including Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the Harwich Life Boat museum, Cavendish Hall (Landmark Trust) and Pentlow to learn the history of budgerigars. Clare will email members with details and request responses. At this point the gap was filled by a couple of members displaying their talent as “stand -ups”; their jokes were entertaining but whether they are available for after dinner engagements, bar mitzvahs etc  is not known.

With the DVD player up and running we saw a film about Tramways of East Anglia which described in detail the history of this transport. In the Victorian era – as some extraordinary pictures showed  – the streets swarmed with horse drawn carts and carriages. Horse drawn trams were  common in many towns and cities from the early 19th century. Towards the end of that century steam trams made a brief appearance before electricity became the power source in about 1900 – Norwich being one of the first to have such a system. Edward the Seventh was seen at the inauguration of the Westminster electric trams in 1903 and the new passenger service quickly spread. Ipswich developed the service in the same year and a peak was reached just before the first World War  with large trams capable of carrying up to 80 people During the conflict trams were used for recruitment, ambulance and mobile catering facilities. From photos and reminiscences of veteran drivers pictures emerged of a highly disciplined and smartly uniformed transport service with decorated trams playing their full part in local carnivals and processions. 1930 saw the beginning of a twilight decade as buses began to take over; in fact a Royal Commission report of that year concluded that trams held up cars on the road!

The East Anglian Museum of Public Transport at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft has an excellent display of restored trams of various designs among other exhibits.

Chairman Alan Fitch gave details of the Society’s annual dinner to be held at The George, Cavendish on December 8th. Bookings and deposits to be with him by end of November please.

Ken Nice

 

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