ludham archive

        Powell's Shop

Arthur and Ethel Powell kept a general stores shop in the middle of Ludham village. They purchased the store in 1922 from Grace Lyon who had run it as a grocery and drapery since 1904. The Powells lived at the shop and brought up their children there. They were there until 1941 when Ethel was killed by a bullet from a German aircraft and Arthur died a few weeks later. (see below for more details about this incident).

The shop itself is still there and at the time of writing it is the Ludham Butchers located in Stocks Hill.

Powell's Stores 1930s

Ethel Powell

There are many different versions of the story of Ethel Powell's death. However, we do have a first hand account, so here is the story of Ethel Powell as told by her nephew, Michael John Powell who now lives in Adelaide, Australia:

This is the story of an incident that occurred at Powell's General Store in Ludham Norfolk in February 1941.

It appears that during that day a German aircraft was strafing after a bombing raid and machine gunned Powell's Shop at Ludham killing Ethel Powell and wounding one of her two daughters. Her husband Arthur died a few weeks later as a direct result of this event.

My Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ethel Powell (nee Bell) owned and ran the General Store in Ludham, and one day in February 1941 they closed the shop for lunch.  Arthur, his wife Ethel and two daughters, Doreen and Phyllis, were seated around the dining table in the rear of the house. Doreen had her back to the window facing her mother when the noise of an aircraft was heard together with machine gun fire and wanting to see what was happening Doreen turned side on to the window to look out.  At that very moment a shell fired from the aircraft, which was strafing, entered the window grazing across Doreen's chest then ricocheted off the polished table and into the chest of her mother killing her outright. Ethel was 55 years of age.

My family used to keep The Old White Lion in King Street Gt.Yarmouth and my father, Arthur's brother, was away at the time of this tragedy so was unable to attend Ethel's funeral.  Also at this time my sister had just collected me from Retford, Nottinghamshire where I had been evacuated, taking me home to Yarmouth on a temporary basis to recover from measles. My father also returned home to enable him to visit his brother Arthur. I accompanied my mother and father on that visit to Ludham the week following my Aunt Ethel's funeral and have a vivid recollection of seeing, at eight years old, the shell marks in the brickwork together with a perfectly neat hole without any sign of glass splintering where the shell had entered the window.  I saw and also fingered the gouge mark in the centre of the table made by the fatal shell. Arthur died the week following our visit.
If the building is still standing today as it was during the war no doubt you can still see the shell marks in the wall.

Ethel's Grave
Powell Grave in Ludham Churchyard


Powell's Stores Calendar 1937

The 1933 Calendar

The Ludham Archive would like to thank Phyllis Marco (nee Powell) for supplying these calendars.


Memories of Doreen and Phyllis Powell

These memories are from an audio recording of Doreen and Phyllis made in March 2006. They were interviewed by Yvonne Boldy and Margaret Watts. It has been edited a little to make it suitable for putting on a web page. The full interview is available if you need it.

Yvonne: I’d first like to say thank you for coming today and it’s really nice to meet you for the first time.  I’m sure you won’t mind me saying that Phyllis is 86 and Doreen is 90 and you used to live in Ludham. Were you both born in Ludham?
D: No! I was born in Great Yarmouth - 71, Falgate Road.
Y: How old were you when you came to Ludham?
Doreen: Seven!
Phyllis: About two.
Y: Yes! Did you then come to the shop that your father had bought?
D: On a mortgage.
Y: Right. Had you had anything to do with shops before?
D: My father used to work in a shop and it was after the War that he came up in the world and they decided to come up here because they had lost a daughter.
Y: Did they know anything about Ludham?
D: I don’t know.
Y: You said you were about seven, Doreen, so you went to Ludham school when you first got here?
Doreen: No, I didn’t go to Ludham School because they sent me to my grandmother’s and I went to school at Yarmouth – St Andrew’s School and then The Priory and came home every weekend.
Y: What about you Phyllis? Did you start school in Ludham?
Phyllis: Yes, I started in Ludham - Mr Kitchener (headmaster), wasn’t it?  And then I went to the Priory School.
D: After the Priory School, we both went to a private school for two or three years.
Y: So you were actually living away from home?
D: Yes, I was during the week, coming home at weekends.
P: No, I came home by train every night.
Y: Did you find it difficult to fit into village life because you went out of the village to school?
P: No. It was quite easy. We had lovely times, didn’t we? We used to play with Stella and Kathleen.
Y: Were Stella and Kathleen living in Crown House?
Yes, with Neville. I remember they used to have an oven in the wall and she made beautiful shortbread. The last time I talked to Anne, she had had that kitchen redecorated and they had uncovered that hole in the wall.
Y: Right!  You spent time there, who else did you mix with?
D: Well, Nancy and was it Peggy Grapes?
P: No, Peggy Grounds who came from Ludham Bridge – Grapes had the fish and chip shop - Vera Grapes.

Y: Right – shops! Can you remember, at the time your mother and father had the Powell’s shop, there was also a flower shop, wasn’t there?        
P: Yes, and Mrs Clarkes’s and two butchers, two public houses, a saddlery, two undertakers,
Y: As much as that? Do you think that was because people didn’t actually go out of the village to shop?.
P: I should think so.
Y: You worked and you played in your own village really, didn’t you? Not many times you went out of it to earn a living - apart from the men – a lot would have gone to Herbert Wood’s Boatyard, wouldn’t they?
D: Gilbert went there and Allen went there.
Y: I know a lot of men worked there. Chesney England worked there. Was there any bad feeling between the shops – did they try to undercut each other?
D: No, we were on ration books. Where people had three ration books they used to put one at each shop because they used to get little extras.
Y: Really? When you look back were they hard times, do you think or did people accept it?
D: I think they accepted it.

Y: Do you remember anything about a mock invasion day?
D: No! I used to work up at the Airfield – I was working for the electrical contractors, you know, Clarke.
Y: Did you ever celebrate Empire Day?
P: Yes, we used to have the day off when I was at the Priory School and we used to sing ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’ 
Y: And did you just have the day to please yourself?
Y: Do you remember Ludham having a fair – on what I called Pitt Corner? Did that use to be there when you were girls? On that field.
D: Yes! Grey’s field.
Y: That kept up for a lot of years, didn’t it?
D: Yes. One of the ladies had a baby there and her caravan was left behind for three or four days.
Y: Really! Did you go to Ludham School at all?
P: Yes!
Y: How many classes were there when you went? I know Mr Kitchener had a class.
P: We always used to quarrel over who was going to sit nearest the fire mainly because it was cold.
Y: That fireplace is still there. It’s not used at all but they’ve left the surrounds
P: Is it? I was in Mr Mattocks’ class – I was in there and Mr Hayhurst was the Headmaster there.
Y: Oh yes, we were saying he lived in the Dutch House and you knew it as The Walnuts, didn’t we?
D: Yes. We remember it as the Walnuts. My dad had an allotment down the side – there used to be allotments down the side and a passage- a path - right down past that and he had an allotment.
Y: Are we talking about Hall Common?
D: No, no! The Walnuts! He used to sell the stuff in the shop. I know when he first went there, he had a horse and cart in the yard. There used to be stables at the back of the shop. The horse was called Daisy and there used to be a barn right at the back and there was all the stables opposite all the sheds. There was a stable and a cart and another shed where we kept all the paraffin and stuff and we kept cardboard boxes in there and we used to play ‘palaces’ in there. Then there used to be a pig-sty.
Y: I remember my father saying there used to be pig-sty there. In that end one?
D: Yes!
Y: Were there any after school activities when you were in Ludham?  When you came out at half past three of four o’clock was it finished or did you go back for any activities?
P: No – when school finished, it finished.
Y: So what kind of social life did you have as girls?
D: I used to go to Girl Guides. There was nothing else.
Y: You didn’t have the GFS then?  Girls’ Friendly Society.      
Phyllis: Oh yes, I remember going to that!
Doreen: Well, that must have been when I was away during the week. We used to go out to play – up at the brick-kilns, we used to go up the lane. It’s all been dug up now, I see. What are they going to do there?
Y: I’ve no idea! That’s a public footpath. A lot of the land has been sold.
D: We just used to walk around and amuse ourselves – made mud pies. Played houses with all the boxes
Y: You’d probably go off for ages and your mother would never bother and you’d just show up when it was time for tea really, wouldn’t you?
D: Yes! We used to play with Stella at the Crown House at the bottom there. There used to be a stable and we used to play there and there was a hayloft.
Y; Was that Ebenezer?
P: Yes!
Y: So you actually worked for your dad?
D: Yes. When I first left school I went up to, putting it crudely, the ‘nut-house’ in Norwich and I worked Monday and Tuesday and then had a half day Wednesday and came back, but I was so scared I couldn’t work there because we had to have a key to open the door. … When I came home on the Wednesday I never went back. So after that Dad had an allotment down what we called the Pulk and I used to grow vegetables and have chickens and he used to buy the eggs off me.
Y: Is that what you did when you left school?
D:Yes, and I worked for my father in the shop.
Y: Who worked there with you?
D: Mr Attew and Nora Thrower who married Freddie Dyer. She worked from 16 to –  well, I don’t know if she worked until the shop was sold. She lived in Sunnyside. She did everything and saw after us. I stayed with her for three or four days before my daughter was due to be born. I was on my own so I stayed with her.
Y: Have you seen her recently?
D: No, when I came to Ludham with my daughter we thought about going to see her but I thought she’s now, an old lady and she may not remember us and it would be a shock for her if we just go.
P: Arthur Gibbs – Maggie Gibbs’ brother - her daughter-in-law brought me down there and we called on Nora but she didn’t recognise us and then Percy Thrower came in and whether he thought we were bothering her or not, we were turned out quick. I think they formed a friendship in the last few years.
Y: Probably  he thought she wasn’t up to it. Didn’t give you a chance to stay really but at least you went. Who else worked in the shop?
D: Arthur Gibbs worked in the outside business – getting the paraffin and things like that, Russell Gilding from Horning and a girl – Edna Mills who came from Potter Heigham.
Y: There were quite a few. When you think of the shops there were and how many people they employed, there were quite a lot, weren’t there? Did you all sell the same things?
P: No, the grocery and Cyril Thrower’s were the same but that was just Cook’s  - I don’t think she did, did she? And old Mrs Clarke. Dad used to deliver to people all around the villages– we used to go to Langley, Horning and Potter Heigham and somebody near Hickling .
Y: Would that be in a van?
P: Yes, but a horse and cart to start with. Potter Heigham, right down Marsh Road
D: I learnt to drive when I was seventeen  but when the bad weather came  in 1947, it must have been, he wouldn’t let me drive it.
We were in an accident in a bus at the end of the war. It overturned at Repps and ended up at the side of the hedge making it impossible to get out of.
Y: That must have been awful.  What date was that then?
D; Yes! May 8th 1945. V.E. Day! I remember that date!
Margaret: So the bus went from Yarmouth to Ludham and it turned over at Repps?
D: Yes – the Martham crossroads.
Margaret: Was anyone badly hurt?
D: Not badly hurt – someone’s teeth got knocked out. The girl at the front, she got cuts and had broken her little finger and she got £1000 but you got two cuts on your knee, and you got £17, didn’t you?.
Y: No justice in that, is there? (LAUGHTER)
Margaret: Must have been quite a shock! What happened about getting you home?
A relief  bus got us home.
Y: Did they know what had made it overturn or did it just flip over? 
D; Everyone had been celebrating - that was overcrowded, you know. The springs just went. The roads in those days weren’t straight like they are now. They saw it from the farmhouse on the crossroads. The first-aid people all came out from Martham and did some temporary repairs.
Y:  Thank you.

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