Letter from Ron Watts
Ron puts in his two-pennyworth on recent discussions about the village of Stoke Ferry
I have been fascinated by the old photographs of Stoke Ferry published in the John Stocking memorial booklet. They create an image of a very pleasant country town/village in the early part of the twentieth century that conforms to my childhood memories of another English village. The pictures conjure up memories of quieter times when the pace of life was slower. Photographs are deceptive of course but I can't help feeling that similar photographs taken of the village today would not give such a favourable impression. Whatever one might think of Stoke Ferry nowadays, picturesque Norfolk village it is not. It does, of course, have many very attractive corners but a century of development does not seem to have favoured the place very much.
Undoubtedly it is a place blighted by the Grampian mill. Although I admit to being something of an outsider, it is very difficult for me to understand the attitude of those like the anonymous Grumpy Old Man who appear to believe that it is appropriate for the mill to be situated in Stoke Ferry and for it to remain there. What is their justification? The employment it gives to people in Stoke Ferry? Just how many people employed at the mill actually live in Stoke Ferry? Is that enough to justify wanting the mill to remain and completely spoiling what could otherwise be a very pleasant village?
I was pleased to see Kit Hesketh Harvey's response to the article by the Grumpy Old Man, it went a long way towards refuting his claims. We don't know who this man is, he is very ready to criticise the efforts by those who voluntarily give their time for the community. It would be nice to know who he is so that villagers might judge his service to the community. It is true that the High Street, with its towering houses built right on the road, is rather gloomy and untypical of Norfolk. Kit himself recalled that Sir Niklaus Pevsner described Park House as somewhat foreboding and I recall a Norfolk Journal article that described the High Street as an 'austere canyon'. But the High Street is part of the unique character of Stoke Ferry, without it in its present form it would not be Stoke Ferry, people should cherish these old buildings as part of the history of the place. The mill, on the other hand, is a recent intrusion that has no place in a modern country village, the sooner it goes to a place outside the village the better. What becomes of the space will be a matter for the people of the village. It is a gross and wild assumption on the part of Old Grumpy that the result will be "even larger gangs of bored kids intimidating local residents". I didn't know there were gangs of bored kids intimidating local residents in Stoke Ferry, perhaps these incidents should be reported in The Pump.