Oral History

Recording memories of the past


Ellen Finch 1942

For the past few years we have been looking at ways to record the stories of villagers lives. One of our members is currently recording memories and stories of people both in our village and the surrounding area. We have held afternoon ‘tea parties’ where both residents and non-residents have come along, chatted and looked at photo albums. We have also held several successful film shows of past village life. All this has helped to stimulate memories and prompted people to share their stories with us.

We now have over 20 folders in our heritage room, each one containing the fascinating individual stories and memories of people who have lived or worked in Docking. These stories range from ‘life as an evacuee in Docking during World War Two’ to ‘working at Waggs Bakery’.

Below is a selection of quotes taken from some of our oral history recordings that we have done to date.


“I  can remember the amount of shops we had, you’d be surprised. I once counted up to about 15 or 16. The shops at East End were able to meet most needs in the village; everything was here that you wanted. People used to come years ago from the other villages like Bircham and Brancaster just to shop here.”  [Mr W.]

“There were four teams of horses at Choseley and three or four teams down at Lugden Hill.  We had to be up at 6.o’clock in the morning to go down to the stables and feed them, then come home and have a cup of tea or something.  We went back at 7.o’clock and that’s where you got your orders for the day. You would walk for miles behind a plough or harrow, hard work but enjoyable.”  [Mr P]

“In 1942 a long Nissen hut was built for WAAFs on the site at the fork in Brancaster Road.  There were 30 of us in that hut with a stove at either end to keep us warm.  Many of us batwomen and stewardesses were Norfolk girls.”  [Mrs F]

“When we lived in the cottage all our water had to be collected from across the road and Daddy had two buckets. When Mummy did her washing there would be buckets of water, and baths of water to wash in.  The toilet was down the bottom of the garden.” [Mrs T]

“We were all school pals and we used to be about the village, especially if any planes crashed or bombs dropped – we would go and try to get bits of shrapnel, bits of planes.  If a plane came down we would hear of it and away we used to go and see what we could find.”  [Mr A]

“We got advice from Heacham, on signalling instruments, when the train had left. And as a single line it was controlled by token. Of course you had a rough idea when the train would arrive but if Bob wasn’t ready you’d hear a blast on the horn from the train anyway if the driver could see the crossing gates weren’t open.” [Mr W, Stationmaster]


The entries in the Oral History folders cover many aspects of village life.

Here’s a list of subjects included:

Airfield huts, Air raids, Blacksmiths, Childhood, Docking Carnival, Docking Hall, Docking Railway, Evacuees, Family life, Farm work, Marsters granary, Police, Public houses, Shops and shopping, RAF Docking, Royal Observer Corps, Royal Sandringham, St Mary’s church and choir, Waggs the baker, War service, Wartime Docking, Water Board at Docking.


Do you have memories of life in Docking?

What games did you play as a child? Do you have any stories from wartime? What was life like for you in days gone by? It doesn’t matter how insignificant you may think your story is, as you can see from the quotes above every piece of information we can gather helps to build up an insight into how life in Docking used to be.

We know that many American servicemen lived in the Docking area while serving at the U.S. Air Force base at Sculthorpe in the decades after World War 2 and we would love to hear from anyone from these service families who recalls their childhood here.

What age were you? Did you live in Docking or nearby, and how long did you stay? Where did you go to school?

All recollections and stories, even if brief, will be welcome to add to our oral histories. We would like to see photos too. Please get in touch through our Contact page with any memories or if you can help in any other way.