Walsham le Willows

Trades and Occupations Walk

A line drawing of a blacksmith shoeing a horse.

This walk recreates a village street bustling with shops and work-places. An easy walk, it describes the main trading activities which have gone on in The Street over the years. Starting and finishing at the cross-roads by the church, the walk explores first the north side of The Street, as far as Wattisfield Road, then returns along the south side, and takes in a little of The Causeway before ending back at the cross–roads.

Total of about three-quarters of a mile.

Start the walk at the cross-roads outside the Six Bells public house.

Once known as Fullers, a connection with the wool trade, the pub has been the Six Bells for over 100 years. Next door, the windows of Mapleton’s boot, shoe and general store are unaltered. The weather-boarded former Guildhall with its fire insurance sign was once the workhouse. Unsupported women and children earned their keep here by spinning.

A line drawing of a village terraced house.

The first part of the next house, the Dages, was Mr. Death’s cycle shop from 1911 until 1965. In the 15th century, John Page the mason lived here, perhaps building the church. The jettied part of the house was the workshop of Landymore’s the tailors from 1911 right up until 1980.

The Old Stores was a grocers and drapers run by William Clamp and Son from 1885. It closed quite recently. Barn House, an early barn conversion, was the home of Bakers the builders between the wars. The garage at the back was the workshop. Next door, in the red brick cottage, George Seaman repaired boots and shoes, followed by Mr. Lovick who mended clocks and watches until quite recently.

A line drawing of a double fronted shop showing two large bay windows with large panes of leaded glass.

The back part of the Tiled House was used for boot and shoe repairs by Mr. Nunn, remembered for his wooden leg. John Collins had a fried fish shop at the front – he delivered fresh fish by pony and trap. A yard runs alongside Holly House and behind the old Post Office, now closed: this is where Harry Nunn ran his building, milling, undertaking, wheelwright’s and ironmongery business.

A line drawing of a shop overgrown by a large bush which is obscuring the front part of the shop.

William chilestone had a grocer and draper’s at Commerce House in the 1930’s You either made your own clothes, buying the materials here, or ordered them from the village tailor or dressmaker. The Post Office was also a chemists and stationers. Mr. Harrington had medicine bottles made with his own name on them. George Phillips took over from him in 1912. Harry Nunn’s ironmonger’s shop was where, amongst other things, you bought mantles for your oil lamps.

Continue to what was the Sideways Garage which is just beyond Sideways house. Local people remember the arrival of the first motor car when Mr. Dorey had the garage. Then you will come to Rolfes of Walsham which is the only shop still surviving after 100 years. Animals were once slaughtered at the back of the shop. The chimney belongs to the copper used in the past to heat water.

A line drawing showing the end and the right–hand side of the shop.

Continue to the Maltings, once know as Brewery Corner, at the Wattisfield Road junction. Prior to the building of the Maltings in 1842, there was a blacksmith’s on this site. Mr. Granger the butcher, just round the corner, who farmed at Cranmer Green, sold his own meat here.

Retrace your steps and cross the village street and the little arched bridge. This bridge led to the Swan public house, now Cygnet House. Fried fish was once sold here and wet fish was delivered by bike.

A line drawing of a small bridge over the stream with trees and a house in the background.

Continue back along the Street, past Clarke’s, a builders’s merchant’s since 1873. At the end of the path is a house called Coopers where Zachariah Meadows made beer barrels 150 years ago. The garage of this house was later used by William Pollard to sell game.

Bridge House was Clamps the blacksmith’s. Children from the school next door uesd to stand on the bridge watching horses being shod. The hairdressers shop once belonged to Flatman’s, who owned the mill along Wattisfield road. Corn, flour, meal and dog biscuits were sold here, the shop stayed open until 9pm on Saturdays for people to pay their bills after work. George Pamment, a haulage contractor at Avenue House, had the first lorry to be seen in Walsham. Mr. Clamp, the harness maker, worked in Avenue Stores, now Avenue House, while his wife had a sweet shop at the side. Earlier, the village fire engine was housed here. Nunns supplied the horses and driver.

The Old Bakery was where the cakes and bread baked at the Bakehouse were sold. Mr. Kenny’s horse and cart and then his van are remembered by many local people. You could take your own pies to be baked there. Many people were without ovens. The jettied part of Clive House was used by Arthur Aldridge the tailor. The garage was Mr. Blizzard’s butcher’s shop. Walk past the bowling green. The first of the semi–detached cottages was the workshop of William Last, the gunsmith and watchmaker during the end of the last century.

A line drawing showing the side view of a jettied house.

The garage to the rear of the next cottage was once a butcher’s shop, with it’s window facing onto the yard. Ice was delivered every Wednesday by the lorry –load – no deep freezers then. Maplestead had a workshop built on the front of the present house, the line of which was visible until a recent renovation. Thomas Colson, tailor and woollen draper, worked here.

A line drawing showing the text houses with particular emphasis on their chimneys.

Turn into the path by the side of the churchyard where, at the Beeches, a doctor had tended the sick and injured since the start of the century. Next door is the Priory, once Church House Manor, belonging to Ixworth Priory. Carry on to the Causeway and then turn left. On your right, over the bridge, are two sets of mock–Jacobean cottages built by John Martineau for his estate employees early this century. Look out for the texts carved on each of these houses. Despite the variety of trades and occupations, most people worked on the land or as servants.

A short walk back (north) up the Causeway will return you to your starting point at the cross–roads. Time for a refreshing drink in the Six Bells!

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