William George "George" Rebbeck 1901 - 1994
Eldest son of Sydney Francis Rebbeck and Emily Coombes Rebbeck
This and the following pages are the memoirs of George Rebbeck written over the years for the benefit of his grandsons, Michael, David, Peter and Stephen Hancock. They kindly gave them to me to use in the History, ready for editing as David had patiently transcribed the handwritten pages into WORD.
Recollections of Bygone Days by W.G. Rebbeck Born 9 July 1901
It might interest some of the family to read a bit of family history. Myself was a poor little creature who, the Doctor told my parents, would be unlikely to survive. I was rarely at school, having six months off with a Doctors certificate and then twelve months with another. I distinctly remember Mother taking me back to Drayton Road Infants School. It must have been after the summer holidays because the plump little headmistress, Miss Garvey (she was facially like Margaret Rutherford, though much shorter), asked how old I was. When mother said I'd just had my eighth birthday, we were told I couldn't come into the Infants any more - I was now a 'big boy' and must go into their department. So I departed to Lower Standard with the Irish Mr Mulligen.
All I remember about him is that he said that if anybody wanted to do homework he would provide an exercise book and set it and mark it. I started a four-year stint, supervised by my father who must be given the credit for my rapid progress.
This will be one of the earliest recollections dating as it does from some time between 1925 and 1928, but it is important because it crystallised my somewhat amorphous political ideas and gave them definition. In the years preceding our wedding, my good lady Lena,- Gran'ma to several of my readers - was nursing at the House of Industry, Alverstoke, near Gosport. The A.H.I. was a sweeter sound than "Workhouse" and it was one of the best in the country for the treatment and care of the inmates - it actually came second for the amount spent on food per inmate. I used to accompany my "girl friend" back to the house when she was on certain shifts and whilst she did her rounds I would stay in the porters lodge. Jack the porter used to nip across the bridge to a little corner shop and get such things as tins of pineapple - he had earlier visited the butcher's shop and obtained some sausages; about 9 o'clock Jack prepared a welcome supper and the lodge reeked of fried onions! One evening I was sitting in the lodge when a couple of 'casuals' came in for admission, a man and his wife with a pram holding their worldly possessions. He was an unemployed fitter and turner and they had tramped all the way down the east coast and along the south coast from Durham. I have never seen two people so steeped in despair and frustration. They had left their children with the grandparents. As nurse Ayton led the women off to the bathroom and Jack prepared to do the same with the man, my emotions infuriated me. So this is Great Britain under the Tories, truly did I 'see red' and I've never seen any other colour.
One Thursday morning, following a Wednesday evening class I noticed that the plane was not in its usual place on my desk. I became suspicious so I borrowed three good boys from the top class and told them to ransack the room and the wood store. They found nothing, as I expected but they were naturally curious so I told them the reason for the search. They asked who had been in the class and I gave them a list, one by one. No, no, he's all right, no, no until I mentioned the name of my own suspect. Don't say anymore, they all three said, he's your man. Local knowledge pointed at him. So on the next evening class I warned several of the senior members that I was on the warpath and anything nasty was not directed at them. I got one chap to watch the suspect's face, and I went into action. I told them what had happened and said that besides the plane a mortise gauge had disappeared. That narrowed the list of suspects to a "specialist,. When I brought the police into it they would select the most likely suspect but not pounce at once. Indeed they wouldn't move for quite a while, probably, so whoever had taken the items would be unable to use them. I said that if the tools were brought back there would be no further action. When we carried on with the class my "watcher' said I'd undoubtedly got the right man. If ever anybody's face had shown guilt his had and next day proved it. When I arrived at the woodwork room on Thursday morning the caretaker met me with the small metal plane which he had found an the step when he opened up. Half way through the morning our prime suspect turned up with the mortise gauge which "somebody had planted in his tool kit to try to get him into trouble'. Ght yeah. When we were signing on students for the next year he came breezing along "what's the position regarding wood this year?", as far as you're concerned there is no position" I replied "If you join at least half a dozen of the old regulars won't, so he didn't argue. He earned several dishonourable mentions after that for petty theft, in the local paper. As a carpenter he used to go into houses to work and couldn't resist lifting things. He ultimately became a fisherman. circa 1960
Then I had to prepare for the teachers preliminary in December. I'd left grammar school in 1916, so I had to work quite a bit after stagnating for 11 years. I schemed for passes, not having much hope for credits, and managed that, with just one credit, in arithmetic. Then right away for a job. An investigating commission in 1925 had advocated increased handicraft instruction in schools and accommodation was being built or adapted all over the country. Jobs were being advertised by the dozen, but I took longer to get fixed up than I should have as I got involved in a motor bike accident which put me on my back for five weeks and on crutches for eight more. That was at the beginning of December, after getting married in September thirteen weeks off work on sick pay depleted our already meagre savings, but in the spring of 1928 I went up to Norwich Shire hall and was successful. From B of A to B of Ed, a step I've never regretted. I then had two years to pass the final which I took successfully at Lowestoft. I have never regretted it - I'd have been a rotten uninterested shipwright but judging by the reception I received at a Cromer School reunion a few weeks back at which 350 attended I made a useful job of teaching. I had my photo in the local paper anyhow - not my best side.
When I look back on my start as a teacher, I was surprised at my own audacity. On Friday May 3rd 1929, I left Portsmouth dockyard - It was pay day - £3-0-10 per week. On Saturday May 4th we left Portsmouth and returned forth. We had never been north of the Thames before and it was quite an adventure. We got just outside Royston and found a little country pub to put up for the night. Evening meal, bed and breakfast, 6/6d each. On the Sunday morning we carried on into Norfolk and throughout the county with it's right - angled bends and narrow roads to Holt and High Kelling, for just two years to get my final "City and Guilds". And on Monday May 6th I was put in front of twenty local boys to get on with it. After a week or two I had a visit from the H.M.I. The Headmaster told me, after he'd gone, that I had been "approved" as the type that the board was hoping to recruit. I had two years to get my finals, after which I intended to endeavour to move south. Well, I got them but I didn't move south. I had three interviews and then Hitler messed up all my plans.
I wasn't at Holt long before I got interested in the school football team. In the first year we defeated Melton Constable Central School (boys up to 15) for the first time and went an to win the North Walsham War Memorial Cottage Hospital Schools Shield. Many years later, about 1958 I saw that shield when it came up for the addition of new little 'winner' shields and was quite proud to see 11929 - Holt Senior School". Holt itself at that time had a very good team, sponsored by three businessmen, Messrs. Bert Houlton (gents outfitter), Larner (grocer) and Knowles (tailor). Although It would take some proving it was rumoured that the odd ten shilling or one pound note would find its way into the boots of players who came in from outlying districts, as well as free transport. The Holt team when I came here were winning the North Norfolk League then the Norwich and District League several times and then the Norfolk and Suffolk County League. In the early days they played on Norwich City's ground in the Norfolk Senior Cup Final. I believe they played Great Yarmouth and lost 1-0.
I did three days at Holt and two at Reepham 12 miles inland. It was a real cross-country trip, with several alternative routes. One morning after I'd fitted a sidecar I was careering down a country bye road when I was surprised to see something racing me down the road. I had just enough time to recognise It as my sidecar wheel when things happened. The broken wheel axle hit the ground, we pivoted round into a hawthorn hedge and charged back along a dozen yards of hedge with my head in it and landed on my skull on the remains of a heap of granite chips. If I remember rightly they were threshing in a farmyard opposite and the farmer took me to a doctor and got the local garage on to the motor bike. The doctor strapped me up and cleaned me up - I had cracked two ribs and it was extremely painful. What happened after I've completely forgotten but I do remember discovering a queer very hard lump on my forehead weeks later. I sterilised a darning needle with Iodine and dug out the lump, a chip of tarred granite or flint. The tar had acted as an antiseptic.
POSTSCRIPT WRITTEN JULY 1988. I got Mike to run us over one of the cross-country routes, where the sidecar wheel came off. Fifty years do alter the appearance. Trees grown quite a lot. I got lost several times. The country changes and although we must have passed my old school we couldn't see it. I rather fancy they have turned the school into a residence and built in both playgrounds. We didn't actually get lost, but we weren't always certain where we were.
Page last amended January 2004