Were you in the Norwich 'Lorry Gang'?

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

John Plunkett at the wheel of the Rosebery Road Youth Club lorry in Norwich who hit the headlines in 1966. - Credit: Archant Library

An appeal we launched back in February to find the members of the Rosebery Road Youth Club in Norwich who, in 1966, hit the headlines by renovating their very own lorry has resulted in an emotional reunion.

Just recently, 10 of the team met up for the first time in 55 years for a day out on the Norfolk Broads.

And what better way to travel than on the iconic Black Sailed Trader Wherry Albion, with lunch at the Ranworth Maltsters?

The story of the young men and women from the club who used their own lorry to get about instead of the usual bicycles in the swinging 60s, was told by Tony Pryke, who now lives in the north east of England.

"We would love to hear from other members and discover what they've been up to," he said.

A group of people sit around a table and smile at the camera.

Together again…after more than half a century. Members of the Rosebery Road Youth Club at the Ranworth Maltsters. - Credit: Supplied

The wherry Albion makes her way under sail along the River Yare near Cantley.

The wherry Albion makes her way under sail along the River Yare near Cantley. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Well, once lockdown lifted, they did just that and came from across the country and abroad to be together.

Franziska Hausendorf, formerly Roberts, finally got the all-clear to return from her home in Germany. She is one of the girls sitting on the footplate and grew up at Drayton.

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She, along with Tony, and Roy Poll, organised the reunion, which turned out to be a great day - catching up on a lifetime of memories.

"We sailed from the berth at Ludham (home to the Norfolk Wherry Trust) to the Maltsters public house where we were met by two others.

"There were 10 of us, all now 70 plus in years. Most had not met in more than 55 years. Name tags were necessary," said Tony.

"Back on board for the return trip after a splendid and emotionally charged lunch, we walked our way back to Ludham.

"The day was buzzing with stories about the old days, but also a general catching up on each other's news," he added.

The Norfolk skies and gentle backdrop of the scenery of the Norfolk Broads was the perfect setting for this special reunion. The three organisers smiled and nodded at each other in satisfaction of a wonderful day.

What did you get up to in the swinging 60s?

Growing up in Norwich, Tony Pryke recalls how word went around there was a youth club at the Methodist Church on Roseberry Road. So off he and his mates went...hoping to meet some girls.

They arrived, under the pretext of wanting to play table tennis, billiards, and listen to a limited selection of music from The Rolling Stones or Beatles with a glass of orange juice.

"This was the beginning of a new era," recalled Tony.

"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 that first pair of Levi's, polo-neck jumpers and chiselled toe shoes - financed by fruit picking in the summer.

"Just around the corner was 'Flower Power' and on the stage at Rosebery Road 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."

The leaders of the club, and the older members, offered them the warm feeling of a safe haven, away from the restrictions at home. Readers of a certain age will understand that so well.

The Friday night club was run by Jack Nobbs for many years, and the activities were listed as: recreational, cultural and devotional.

But the RR members stood out. They had bought and renovated a 1930s lorry for their outings, so they could climb in the back and bump along the Norfolk roads...even venture into Suffolk.

Our photograph of them was taken in 1966. Behind the wheel is John Plunkett. He married the girl to his left, Ginny Warden, who went on to become a choir leader.

Tony said: "These days formed us and gave us everlasting values and memories."

And what lives long in Franziska's memory? Listening to Geno Washington at the Orford Cellar. Magical.





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