Grandson pens biography about first citizen mayor in wartime Norwich
- Credit: Cleveland Family Collection
A new book by a grandson about his grandfather lifts the lid on life for the first citizen mayor in war-torn Norwich.
It is written by a man many of you will know or have heard of, David Cleveland. He is the actor, author and the visionary first director of the East Anglian Film Archive he established in 1976.
But now it is his grandfather, Doctor Arthur J Cleveland, in the spotlight – a gentleman who deserves to be remembered.
He was one of the few people who was not a member of the council to serve as Lord Mayor and his term of office began in September of 1942 – the year parts of Norwich were blown to pieces causing widespread death and destruction.
As we reported at the time: “This will be his first association with civic affairs. He has, however, already rendered the city and county inestimable service in his long connection with the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, both as a physician and its management.”
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Dr Arthur John Cleveland (1872-1957) was the only Lord Mayor of that time not to be an Alderman or connected to Norwich City Council. In those days it was possible for a well-known person in the city to be voted to this civic office.
And he was the perfect gentleman for the job.
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Arthur represented the city and reached out to its people at such a dark time. He, along with Sheriff John Brooksbank, dedicated their year to supporting the citizens, many of whom had lost members of their family, friends and homes.
David’s book tells of his grandfather’s year in great detail and sets the scene well with many photographs, advertisements and cuttings from our papers during 1942/3.
Arthur Cleveland received his medical training at Guy’s Hospital in London qualifying in 1897. He married Evelyn Jackson in 1900 and moved to Norwich two years later. They had a son John (1902-1971) who farmed at Horsford and a daughter Geraldine (1904-1992) known as Deenie.
He became electrotherapeutist and radiologist at the Norfolk and Norfolk Hospital in 1906 and was one of the first people to use an X-ray machine. He was physician to the Jenny Lind Infirmary for Children and later consulting physician to the Norwich City Hospital in Bowthorpe Road.
During the First World War he did valuable work at Thorpe Hospital for military patients and was later awarded an O.B.E.
He was an early user of the motor car to get to patients – turning out day or night when the call came. His telephone number was Norwich 68.
Remember this was a time when doctors were in private practice, well before the National Health Service. His son John said: “Heaven knows how many patients he treated without being paid. He loved his work and money was only secondary.”
Grandson David has gone to extraordinary lengths to piece together the story of his grandfather who devoted his life to helping others. In 1938 Arthur welcomed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to open the new maternity wing on the day they opened the new City Hall.
He held many posts and was chairman of the Board of Management at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital from 1938 to 1943 and a Trustee of the Great Hospital. In 1948 he wrote a history of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
Dr A Batty-Shaw who worked with him described him as: “A tall man with a logical brain and with self-confessed streaks of laziness and impatience.”
He and Evelyn lived a kind of Edwardian life in style at The Close in Norwich with a live-in house-maid. Meals were as follows: lunch – 1pm. If at home, afternoon tea at 4.30pm, often with anchovy paste on toast, and in the evening a meal at 7.30pm.
In fact there was a gong in the hall which was banged if he and his wife were in other parts of the house.
He occasionally had wine with his meal, and afterwards smoked a Player’s Weight’s cigarette and enjoyed a small bar of Bourneville chocolate.
It is beyond all doubt that Arthur was a truly remarkable and brilliant man and his grandson David has done a wonderful job telling us about his life and times especially during his year as Lord Mayor, a dark time in the history of the city.
David goes into such detail highlighting day to day life during 1942/3. The places he went to and the people he met. Men, women and children who were all having a tough time.
He had time for everybody while never losing his sense of humour.
For example, when he took his position as senior magistrate at the City Police Court on Wednesday November 18 1942 he was welcomed and then replied saying he had been in a court before when “As a young boy I was hauled up before the magistrates for poaching.”
David, an accomplished author is to be congratulated sharing the story of his grandfather with us. A quite extraordinary man of his time. In 1948 he wrote a book A History of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and now he has a book written about him.
This is local history at its very best.
A Lord Mayor’s Year in Wartime Norwich costs £9.99 and is on sale at Jarrolds and the City Bookshop in Davey Place, Norwich. You can also buy a copy at www.localeastanglianbooks.com for £10 including postage.