River Wissey Lovell Fuller


September 2006

Les takes a look at the l;ife and work of Sir George Edwards

I have been reading in the EDP about Sir George Edwards and I wondered how many people have ever heard of him, or for that matter wanted to?

Well, I think we should, because it is people such as him who are an inspiration to us all. Sir George Edwards was born at Marsham near Aylsham in 1850 and he started work at the age of five as a crow scarer. Much later he became a Methodist Preacher. In addition, he also started a group which was to become the National Union of Agricultural Workers. As a Union Leader, he was known to travel miles on his bicycle attending Union meetings.

He also became a Member of Parliament and eventually was knighted; hence he became Sir George Edwards. Not a bad record for someone who was a crow scarer at five years of age.

It has made me think of today's world as compared with Sir George's days. Then there was so much victimisation; it appears there was a farm workers strike in 1923 with rioting outside Walsingham Court! Can we visualise such a thing happening today?

Not wishing, of course, to go back to the bad old days - but it seems because of the inequalities that existed then you had indeed something to fight for - and to that end Sir George Edwards was an ardent campaigner.

It is also worth noting that he was a Methodist and it seems that inequalities and Methodism went hand in hand. Was it Charles Wesley who brought Methodism to at least this part of the world? And was its popularity then more to do with Inequalities, victimisation, call it what you wish, than any religious awaking by the majority of the people?

If we accept that, then it goes a long way to explaining that, just as we started to move into the "never had it so good era" that coincided with the decline not just of Methodism, but other religions as well.

How many Chapels have people of my age seen sold off to the domestic market in this area owing to lack of support? What I'm suggesting is that, as people became better off - and as a result were not restricted to the confines of their villages - so religion was put aside.

I am, however, suggesting something more significant. Religion, even in those days, played little or no part in the Church or Chapel goings which a lot of people participated in. Putting it bluntly, they had little else to do, or the financial with-all to do anything about it.

I just wonder, however, that if we stop to reflect we may well conclude that whilst we have today everything we want, or think we want, what they did have then was that priceless gift of unity and togetherness; something which I believe makes our so called achievements pale into insignificance.

Les Lawrence

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.