ATTLEBRIDGE used to be on the main A1067 from Norwich to Fakenham, but since it was bypassed by the new river crossing and the old bridge closed to all but foot traffic, the village has turned into a peaceful backwater. Well, a backwater anyway, but perhaps not peaceful because I remember very well my wife leaving her car in the car park by the old railway station in Attlebridge so that we could take a walk along Marriott’s Way, the footpath that has taken the place of the old M&GN line. All went well on an enjoyable walk until we returned to find our car had been broken into and my wife’s handbag rifled through. Her wallet and credit card were gone.
Until about the year 2000 there was an excellent place for buying all kinds of animals called Pet Farm. We bought Benjie our grey Netherland dwarf rabbit there shortly before it closed. They also sold parrots and kittens, although I think they drew the line at puppies. Benjie was a good friend and a determined character for over ten years. He loved sitting on my knee and being stroked. He was also a very healthy rabbit, never once going to the vet even for any inoculations. Other rabbits that we have had have not been so fortunate.
Some time ago we attended a ploughing match held at Attlebridge. When ploughing matches were first held (and that must be hundreds of years ago?) the whole affair would have been done by horse-drawn ploughs. Maybe even by oxen, which were the draft animals on medieval farms, and were commonly still used into the nineteenth century, although not so much in East Anglia. Nowadays of course the ploughs are drawn by huge diesel tractors, but at least there was a demonstration by some teams of horses at Attlebridge.
This is one of the first diesel tractors to appear on farms in the 1950s; before that the common fuel used by farm tractors was TVO – tractor vapourising oil – a form of kerosene. The tractors (they were always painted green) were called Field Marshall. They were started by placing a shotgun cartridge (a blank of course) in the cylinder head and giving in a tap with a hammer. Luckily diesel engines are bit easier to start today, but the cartridge seemed to work very well! Click here to see a demonstation of starting a Field Marshall.
My other experience of Attlebridge has been going there to buy paving slabs for our drive about six years ago. It is not a large village but it does have a small industrial estate. The concrete works is part of this.
There are two river bridges at Attlebridge, remaining evidence of a long-lost mill in Morton-on-the-Hill. The lesser of the two streams crossing the road represents the mill stream. The head available was no more than a few inches, but it was enough to power a small sawmill.
Attlebridge was the name of the WWII American airbase. This was in fact part of the next village of Weston Longville. The runways are now part of a large turkey farm. On one occasion in 1944 Glenn Miller performed in a hangar at the airfield with special guest James Stewart the film star who was based at Tibenham airfield not far away.