The Tale of an Austin 7


Last month we invited recollections of Forncett Stores at the top of Tabernacle Lane, and, by a remarkable coincidence, a recent enquiry to the Forncett History website was related to that same shop!

Roger Brown, who lives in Surrey, wrote asking if we could help with his research into the history of his Austin Seven Cambridge Special (see photo below).

Photo - Roger Brown

In 1955 the car was owned by James Reginald Cloake who had recently taken over the ownership of Forncett End Stores! Roger asked what we knew about Reggie Cloake, and that led me to contact his son, Terence, who now lives in Beccles. Terence remembered the car well and said that it was bought by his dad as a restoration project for him and his son. The project was never completed and in 1963 the car was sold to Richard Young who lived at Quaker Farm in Bunwell. It was later raced at Snetterton.

The car before restoration in November 1962

Terence Cloake was also able to fill in a lot of detail about his family's time at Forncett Stores. Terence's aunt, Irene Sharpley, lived in Carleton Rode and during family visits from London the Cloakes decided to move to Norfolk. They bought the shop from the Tann family who had run it since about 1880. Soon after taking over, James Cloake installed the two petrol pumps shown in last month's photo. Initially they sold Shell petrol, but in later years that changed to the Little David brand and finally to Valiant which is still evident on the historic landmark on the Long Stratton Road (reputedly one of only two such signs still standing). The Cloake family sold Forncett End Stores in about 1963 and moved to Beccles where they opened a garage.

Mike Merrick