A couple of photos of the town centre from yesterday, now that it’s been fenced off for investigation, demolition and eventual rebuilding work to begin. I was particularly touched by the handwritten note pushed into the fence by ‘A Fakenham Resident’ thanking the fire services, and I was also really pleased to see the large banner proclaiming the temporary new venue for the top market. Fakenham is carrying on…
I’m a little hesitant to add my photos to the many many photos that have already been taken and shared about the serious and damaging fire that took place in the town centre of Fakenham on Sunday morning. I have no wish in any sense to ‘glorify’ this event as it has caused heartache and devastation to many individuals, families, organisations and businesses in our town but I would like to record it here on Fakenham Life given it is such a major event in the life of Fakenham.
I am thankful that there were no injuries (or worse) as a result of the fire and that therefore, as one commentator has put it, it is a disaster and not a tragedy. Typically, the people, businesses and organisations in the town as well as local government are already rallying round and the response as far as I can see has been rapid, positive and a credit to all concerned and to Fakenham itself. It should of course also be said that the response of the fire and related emergency services (from all over our county) has been magnificent. The work to physically restore the town will no doubt take many weeks and months but the community spirit and resilience of the town has been shown immediately and it is that positivity which will get this town back on its feet, I am sure, very very quickly.
Well, I was walking through our lovely little town the other day photographing postboxes (but that’s another story, inspired by my lovely wife, Debbie) when I came across this wall which looks like it has been scratched on by a good few generations of Fakenham children. Not sure if that’s true but it really does look like it! Any light that can be shed would be most welcome🙂
Following the appearance of this sad little fella, otherwise known as Number 14, in my regular slot in this month’s (June’s) Fakenham Sun, I was very pleased to receive the following Facebook message from Patricia Long: “The sad little fella who you named as Number 14 in the Fakenham & District Sun will be rescued on Monday and given a good home!”. Phew – my mind is now at rest!🙂
I wanted to write today about a book that I bought and read a few months ago about Fakenham called (appropriately) Fakenham-Lancaster by E M (Mike) Bridges. Dr Bridges, or Mike, was born and went to school in Fakenham and then after a career as a soil surveyor and university lecturer and Professor, returned to his home town on retirement to take up an active role with the town’s museum, Fakenham Museum. His book is styled as ‘a new contribution to the history of Fakenham’ and uses Mike’s expertise in soil, geology and geography to give a slightly different and very informative slant on the very earliest development of the region and Fakenham as a market town. He also incorporates the town’s more recent history and gives a good overview of how the town has reached the position it finds itself in today. It is well worth a read and can be purchased from Fakenham Museum for just £8.
I had the privilege today of catching up with (part of) a real piece of English photographic history. Photographer (now Documentarist) Daniel Meadows travelled around the UK for fourteen months from September 1973 making a “national portrait of the English” in his Free Photographic Omnibus, a Leyland PD1 bus, registration JRR 404, whose seats had been removed to make space for a darkroom and living quarters, its windows being used as the gallery. In Daniel’s own words and with his picture (from his excellent website: www.photobus.co.uk and trusting he won’t mind me using them):
“Once upon a time I lived in a double-decker bus, reg. JRR 404, better known as the Free Photographic Omnibus. She was my home, my travelling darkroom and gallery.
We were an unlikely couple; she with her crash gear box and temperamental ways, me with my bushy hair and homemade flares. But we got along okay and, during 1973 and ’74, we travelled about making a national portrait of the English. We covered 10,000 miles shooting pictures and giving them away.”
Amongst the towns Daniel visited was Fakenham, and some of the photos from his visit in 1974 were shown at the Fakenham Festival of Music and The Arts 1975. These have since been rediscovered and are now being shown again in the Parish Church, thanks to the Fakenham & District Community Archive.
The concept behind this project gave me a tingle down my spine when I first read about Daniel Meadows’ work a couple of years ago – little did I realise that Fakenham figured in his journey and that I would get the opportunity to see some of his photos first hand. This is a small exhibition but very well worth seeing, both from the point of view of seeing some people you might know (or indeed yourself if you were one of the lucky ones to be photographed) , but also from seeing a slice of English photographic history. A few quick snaps of the display of photographs is given below:
A picture from today’s beautifully sunny market day taken with the help of a usefully positioned mirror! Our excellent town website, Fakenham.info, gives a great little write up about the Thursday Market:
Fakenham has been a market town for a long time – it was originally granted its Market Charter in 1250, when the stalls probably occupied space around the Parish Church of St.Peter & St.Paul, an imposing building which still provides the focal point of the town.
Fakenham’s modern-day Thursday market is still situated very close to its original position at the centre of things, but has expanded considerably over time. The stalls now extend over two sites, operating around the town square near the Corn Exchange and also continuing in the large car park towards Cattlemarket Street. (NB – this is mainly where the privately run flea market takes place, at which this photo was taken).
Fakenham Market has a large number of traders offering a wide range of goods including clothing, foods, fruit & vegetables, plants and household supplies. A vast number of people in the region travel into town and ‘make a day of it’, as they’ve done for many years. The centre becomes a very lively social centre where people catch up with local news and see familiar faces – especially in nice weather!
As the sign says… here in Fakenham we have a great Farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of every month in the Market Square. Very lovely food from real farmers and producers – well worth a (regular) visit!
And in case you need to know the dates, here’s something I designed earlier – this year’s Farmers Market advertising postcard: