Cycle Sales and Repairs

There were two great inventions which affected directly people's domestic lives in the nineteenth century: the sewing machine and the bicycle. The mass production of these inventions changed the face of society to a remarkable degree. It was the bicycle in particular that enabled folk to travel greater distances in a shorter time. This is reflected in the parish registers, where clearly relationships sprung up between folk who lived relatively far from each other, eventually resulting in marriages or other job opportunities.

People were keen to be mobile and therefore purchasing a bicycle was important. Also cycling clubs were set up and the relevant literature on touring and maps was made available to the general public. This meant there was an ever increasing opportunity to earn money from selling bicycles and repairing them. The Forncett area was no exception.

The following names are closely associated with the business of bikes, as they came to be called: ALDRIDGE, FOX and HUMPHREYS. ALDRIDGE had his concern down near the 'Five Ways' in Low Bunwell. His tombstone (below) in Forncett St Peter churchyard bears a permanent reminder of his trade. 

At Forncett End, opposite the Methodist Chapel, FOX Bros. had been running the general stores and post office since the 1890s, until the late 1930s, when Oswald ('Ozzie') Jackson took over.

Fox's Stores
Fox's Stores

They set up their repair workshop in the 1910s. By 1923 they were advertising his business in New Buckenham too (advert with thanks to Carleton Rode History Group). It was not listed in 1937, when he had presumably transferred all his cycle business and motor-cycle agency to New Buckenham. 

Norman HUMPHREYS had his little repair workshop in the garden of his house [Louie-Holme] at Forncett End, not far from 'The Jolly Farmers' public house. He also used to repair radios. He had acquired his engineering expertise from his time in the RFC & RAF. He and his brother, Leonard (Lenny), were involved in driving buses from Forncett to Norwich for the family concern set up by their father, Chellis Humphreys of Forncett End. Norman also repaired wireless sets.