My EARLIEST YEARS
By BASIL KYBIRD (1928-2013)
Although I was born at my maternal grandparents’ cottage at Holt Heath, my real home was at Gresham, a village a few miles away. My father was the local police constable there. The ‘police house’ was a poor little flint cottage consisting of two up and two down, with a built on outhouse. I believe this was at 47a Norwich Road, up a yard at the rear of another cottage. Of course I remember nothing of this but photographs of my parents and myself give a good idea of what it was like. There are photographs of me taken outside in the Spring of 1929 near a rear window. There was some irregularity in the flint work which shows in these photos.
There is another photo of me down the road near some white railings. I suppose I was then two or three years old and had a mass of lovely blonde curls. Someone called me Phyllis so the curls had to come off! The neighbours were a Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, who I learned to call ‘Bish’. A girl who lived up the road, I think in some council houses, used to take me out in my push chair. She would have been about ten years old.
When I was three years old we moved to North Walsham and I had no reason to go back to Gresham. About seventy years later I had a letter inviting me to go to a Sunday School Reunion there. I told the lady organiser I never went to the Sunday School there as we had left when I was very young. She told me to go along anyway. On a Sunday Pat and I went off to Gresham, found the church only to learn we were a week too soon! It was a blessing in disguise really because we then decided to look for where I had lived all those years ago.
I spoke to a lady a few years older than myself outside one of a row of council houses and asked where the old police house was. Hard to believe it perhaps, but she said “You must be Basil Kybird”. She was the ‘girl’ who used to take me out in my pushchair! Such is fame I suppose! Following her instructions we found the old cottage. What a miserable place it was and there were still people living in it! They allowed me to take some photos. It appeared nothing had been done to it, on the outside anyway. The irregularity in the flint work near the rear window was still there and shows up in the photos I had taken. The outhouse was almost derelict and I am sure it could not still be police property in that state!
The following Sunday, the proper date, we went to the church where I expect I was christened and joined the congregation outside waiting for a procession of Sunday School children who led us inside. It was a touching service with the present day children taking part. Afterwards we went to the nearby school for light refreshments and a chat albeit we knew no-one although the lady organiser made herself known and thanked us for attending.
In 1932 we moved from Gresham to 37, New Road, North Walsham. Dad was now a police motor cyclist. I now was faced with the prospect of starting school in a year or two and that caused me problems!