Grandad's Watton

Watton Public Houses

The day did not end with the termination of events on the showground. In the evening three fairs were located on Hall & Palmer's meadow, Jack Corston's meadow on the opposite side of the road, and on the piece of land now occupied by R. Neave Removals, and the snooker club. Huge, brassy steam engines provided the power to operate a range of stomach disturbing machinery including the cake walk, chair-o-planes, steam yacht, and of course the ever present roundabout, complete with genuine fairground organ thumping out the hearty traditional tunes. For my money, a gramophone record played over the tannoy will never compare with that. Those who did not like rides could still get rid of their money, with the help of an abundance of 'All you hit you have' and 'Clear the shelf to win' types of sideshows. It was a good day, was showday and there was little trouble. Watton had about a dozen public houses at that time and they were all open all day for the show, so it was not surprising that by mid afternoon a few were losing their sense of direction, but they usually indicated their condition by giving a High Street impromptu rendition of 'There's an old mill by the stream, Nelly Dean' rather than by fighting or hitting a policeman. 'Tinker' Dalton and Alec (Soldier) Brown would have had a few pints, too, but they wouldn't hit anybody. Tinker lived, with his little dog in a wood and canvas hut in Redhill Lane, midway between Watton and Ovington, and he added to his small pension by bringing to Watton, to sell, a few bunches of water cress gathered from the nearby stream. A loner, but not a lonely man for Tinker knew everyone, and everyone knew him. 'Soldier', a skilled poultry plucker, was a genial little happy go lucky fellow if ever there was one. Extrovert, gregarious and as friendly as a wet dog, and I don't think I ever knew anyone who had a cross word with Soldier. Of all the Tinkers and Soldiers and others like them I can only say that it was a privilege to know them.

Of the many Watton public houses I would make special mention of one, the 'Live and Let Live' standing on Dereham Road corner and now the headquarters of Weatherill Bros. The 'Live and Let Live' was not a particularly special pub, but it did have a special landlord, 'Old Sam' Rose who was one of the first men to drive a mail coach from Shipdham to Thetford, and he was known not only as 'mine host' but also as the caretaker and guardian of Loch Neaton. I think he was called 'Old Sam' because nobody can remember him being young !

The idea of creating Loch Neaton, now the home of the town swimming pool came about when excavations to provide materials to build : the railway embankment resulted in a very large hole being left in the ground, and a few far sighted energetic townsmen saw the possibility of filling it with water and forming a small park with tennis court, bowling green, bandstand, fishing, and, if you were hardy enough, swim­ming. Of all this, the man in charge was Sam. He was not slow to reprimand anyone who stood on his bowling green without the correct footwear, and his shouted conversation with the younger element tended to consist mainly of "Get off them boats boy" or "Don't stand on them swings boy" but there was no malice in his words and he cared for and about Loch Neaton as if it was his own.



Death at Watton of Mr, S. J. Rose


One of Watton's oldest inhabitants. Mr Samuel J. Rose, aged 90, died at his home. Avenue Villa. Dereham Road , on Friday. He was a familiar figure for many years at Loch Neaton, where he was caretaker.

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