On March 20th 1909 there was to be a football match at Fakenham. Unfortunately I have so far been unable to discover who it was against, but it was obviously a game of some importance in North Norfolk. A number of interesting points arise from the letter sent to Mr Rice at Sheringham in connection with this event. He was the Manager at the railway station. He was permitted to issue special excursion tickets from Sheringham to Fakenham for the football match. It was a 35 mile round trip, but the date on the letter allowing this concession was March the 19th 1909, only the day before the match. The offer was a return ticket at a single ticket price, quite a generous arrangement, and the cost was 6d (sixpence). In 1909 the average weekly wage for an agricultural labourer was 15 shillings and 4d. A building labourer could expect about 10 shillings more, earning over a pound a week. Sixpence (6d) was a tidy sum for such wage earners, but it was not out of the question; moreover those on such low wages did not have to worry about income tax or PAYE. What you saw was not very much, but at least what you saw was what you got.
As an indication of how prices and wages were increased by the First World War a porter at M&GN’s North Walsham station (J. Morter by name) was paid 46 shillings a week in 1925. This is £2.30. But no doubt the price of railway tickets had increrased too. None of the jobs mentioned – farm worker, building labourer, railway porter – would attract the higher wages of a skilled job.
On March 27th – a Saturday – there was a ½ day excursion to Norwich; this was announced on the 24th., and the fare was split between the Great Eastern and Midland and Great Northern Railway Companies. At the time Saturday was not a day off; it was only a half-day, with the afternoon free. This no doubt explains why the offer was only a ½ day excursion.
This excursion was from Sheringham to London on 8th April 1909; other places would have been included, certainly Cromer and Melton Constable, maybe other places too, meeting up at Thorpe Station (now known as Norwich). This excursion was via Liverpool Street and was thus principally a Great Eastern affair; unlike the trip to Fakenham which was a wholly M&GN affair.In this excursion only the short stretch from Sheringham to Cromer was over M&GN metals. The date on this chit was only a week later, which didn’t give you an awful lot of time to plan, but at least it was more than the day you got to decide if you would take the excursion to Fakenham.
On the 8th of September in the previous year, 1908, ther was another 2, 3 or 5 day excursion to London from Sheringham, only this time it avoided the Great Eastern entirely and the London terminus was Kings Cross. Kings Cross was the Great Northern station London, and the Great Northern was of course one of the owners af the M&GN.
What else happened at this time? The Wind in the Willows had just been published and James Bond (or Ian Fleming at least) was coming up to his first birthday. In 1908 the first London Olympic Games were held at the White City. In 1909 Louis Blériot was the first person to fly across the English Channel, and Burl Ives was born. It was the Edwardian calm before the storm that broke just five years later.