Public Services

After having been illuminated by gas for 75 years, the old street lamp standards that had served the town were made redundant in 1934.

Much higher standards were then erected, the electricity poles that were to carry this form c street lighting to the town, and enabling those residents who so desired, to cook by electricity. The Eastern Electricity Co. supplied three lights per private house free of charge and any required above that had to be paid for by the householder.

In November 1935 Watton Parish Council received a letter from the Wayland Rural District Council informing them that a plan for mains water supply for the town and villages in the district had bee drawn up and it was estimated that the daily consumption of water for the Wayland area would b 90,000 gallons for domestic purposes and another 50,000 gallons for business purposes, giving a dai ly total consumption of 140,000 gallons.

Where the rateable value did not exceed £ 5 the annual water charge per household was 107- (50p and above £ 6 rateable value it was to be 21- in the pound of the rateable value. This was accepted b Watton Parish Council and the mains supply was laid in 1937-8.

The first telephone service for Watton was installed in the late 1920's. It was a manually operate* system occupying Mrs. Utting's, the Post Mistress's, living room and was operated by batteries housed in a shed in the yard behind the Post Office. The Post Office itself was No. 1. J. B. Abbey was No. 2, Barclays Bank No. 3 and H. G. Barnham & Son No. 4. An automatic exchange was built in Harvey Street in 1939-40 and from then on this system came into use in the town and district. The one exception being the late Lord Walsingham who did not wish to take advantage of the new system and had a direct line installed from his home to the Dereham exchange.

A new Police Station and Court House was built in 1954. Due to the centralisation of the loci Courts in Norfolk, the Wayland Petty Sessions Division, which had sat at the new Court House sine it was opened, was transferred to the Court Rooms at Swaffham in 1971.

Watton Parish Council held their meetings in the Court House until the building was opened o 22nd July 1973 as the Watton Branch of the Norfolk County Library.

A new Doctor's Surgery, built in the High Street in 1975 was opened on April 1st 1976. At the time of writing a new surgery is about to be built behind the new International Stores and this will all be c ground level, making it much more convenient for elderly patients.

Meals on wheels

1968 saw the launching of a Meals on Wheels service when 14 elderly people in the town were pro vided with one meal a week at a cost of 1 /6 a meal. Those responsible for starting this voluntary ser vice were Miss K. Blomfield, Mr. B. Sharman and Mr. H. Hazel. In 1971 the service was extended to include the surrounding villages.

Originally the meals were prepared at the R.A.F. Station and later at the Wayland High School Canteen when 18 meals were provided twice a week, except during the school holidays, until 197 Mrs. Marion Kittell become the organiser in 1972 and the cost of meals then was 11p but by 1978 had risen to 32p.

In 1977 Mr. Garnet Mitchell suggested a scheme for developing the garages at the Wayland Hall provide a kitchen for the meals on wheels service. Later the idea become more ambitious so that a lounge-dining room was built and a complete care centre instituted, which enabled people to come to the centre while others would continue to have their meals delivered by a team of volunteers. Dr. Shan suggested that to complete the scheme the town should buy a minibus and this suggestion w taken up by Mr. Cyril Cadman. Mr. Roy Rudling then started the ball rolling by opening the Mayo Jubilee Fund which raised about £ 4,000. A community minibus was purchased and Mr. Cadman drove it to collect the first people to use the new centre on 29th. October 1979 and they we welcomed by Mrs. Ann Lusher, the Hostess.

Lady Walsingham officially opened the Community Care Centre on 8th January 1980, adding t final touch to months of hard work and planning by the Department of Health, Norfolk County Council , Watton Town Council and nearly every voluntary organisation in the area. Each week over 1 meals are now provided for the elderly.

After organising the Meals on Wheels service for 13 years Mrs. Marion Kittell retired in January 1985 and her successor is Mrs. Penny Harris and Mrs. Rosemary Sharman is now the centre organiser. The service started with twelve voluntary helpers, later increasing to forty.

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