Carefree fun at Norwich's Rosebery Road youth club in the 1960s

John Plunkett at the wheel of the Rosebery Road Youth Club lorry in Norwich in 1966…where are they a

John Plunkett at the wheel of the Rosebery Road Youth Club lorry in Norwich in 1966…where are they all now? - Credit: Archant

They played a leading role in so many young lives but not many renovated their very own lorry to travel about in. Derek James reports

Those of you of a certain age – I don’t use the word pensioner anymore – may well have been a member of a youth club in the 1960s. A time when a rather dull black and white world was turning into technicolour.

The swinging 60s had arrived. The music was getting louder and “those kids” were having the time of their lives.

There were clubs scattered across Norwich and Norfolk and it was an chance for young men and women to actually meet up in the days when many went to separate schools.

Today we are trying to track down members of one of these youth clubs in the city where members hit the headlines for renovating their very own lorry…to head out on the open road.

Our photograph of the members of the youth club at Rosebery Road Methodist Church in Norwich with a 1930s lorry they had renovated appeared in the papers in 1966…and now the hunt is on to find as many of them as possible for a reunion when the time is right.

I have heard from Tony Pryke, Roy Poll and Franziska Roberts, three members of this club who remember it with such love and affection. There are now five of them looking for others and they live in Germany, South Wales, the North East and Norwich

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So join us on a journey back, to a time when life seemed so much simpler and certainly more carefree…the year is 1964 and the three friends look back…and smile.

Tony recalled how word went round there was a youth club next to the church on Rosebery Road, so the boys descended on the place with great expectations of meeting…girls.


Rosebery Road Methodist Church in more recent times - Credit: Archant

This was under the pretext of wanting to play table tennis, billiards or listen to a limited selection of records by the likes of the Stones, Yardbirds, Beatles and Bob Dylan.

There were some seats, a stage and a small kitchen where you could get a drink of orange juice (none of that fizzy Coca Cola) and it was nippy but demands were quite modest.

“This was,” says Tony “the beginning of a new era, not only for us, but for society in general, which was ready for a change after the austerity of the 50s.

It  meant looking trendy in first pair of Levi’s, polo-neck pullovers and chiselled-toed shoes, all financed by bean picking in summer.

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“Just round the corner was ‘Flower Power’ and on stage the boys practised their renditions of the latest hits using billiard cues as guitars while the girls pretended to be impressed and encouraged them to new heights,” said Tony.

The trio say the leaders and the older members gave them a warm feeling of being in a safe haven, away from the restrictions at home…and then there was the lorry.

 Rosebery Road Methodist Church

The fire at Rosebery Road Methodist Church in the late 1950s - Credit: Archant

That’s what made the Rosebery Road stand out and while other youth club members would be cycling to the beach for a day out…they could have been passed by the RR gang in their own lorry.

“We would be jostling along in the back with no seats or safety belts in those days,” they recalled.

The club used to meet on a Friday night, the leader for many years was Jack Nobbs, and the activities were listed under the headings of recreational, cultural and devotional.

In the photograph the chap behind the wheel is John Plunkett. He married the girl in the duffle coat on his left, Ginny Warden, who went on to become the choir leader. Others include Owen Pitt and Roger Stafford. Other club members include Susan Diggins and Malcolm Watts,

“These more gentle times formed us and gave us everlasting values and memories,” said Tony.

“We would love to hear from as many youth club members as possible. It would be wonderful to see them all again – when times change,” said Tony, who now lives in the North East and can be reached at

A building we can be proud of

Rosebery Road Methodist Church in Norwich developed from a popular Sun lane Sunday School on Long Row which was bursting at the seams and the history can be traced back to 1818.

We had a way with words in those days and it was written: “Catton at the time was a sadly neglected district…many of its inhabitants being avowedly infidels.

The pioneers were subject to many insults and great abuse in going to and fro in the neighbourhood.”

Sometime later  the ambitious project to build the church came about thanks to the passion and the hard work of the people, supported by powerful men such as JJ Colman, Sydney Cozens-Hardy and MP Sir George White.

At the time the city had started to spread beyond the city walls and this was a new Methodist Church in a new road. Much of the money needed was raised at a big three-day bazaar in St Andrew’s Hall in 1904 and the church opened four years later.

It was, and will be again, the beating heart of this community. It was badly damaged in a fire which swept through the church in 1958. Many events were held to raise enough money for the re-building programme.

It is a building we can all be proud of…

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