Working nine till five - talk reveals changing nature of employment in Attleborough

Norfolk Coachways. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Norfolk Coachways. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Its factories, farms and railways have been the places where its people have toiled for decades.

Beales Traction Engines. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Beales Traction Engines. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

But now a revealing talk into the history of Attleborough's workplaces has showed that while its growing population will continue to put in the hours, the town may become the place where people rest rather than work.

Attleborough Heritage Group's spring presentation, entitled Working Nine Till Five, will look back at the history of commercial enterprise and employment in the town since the 1800s.

Using historic photos from its archives, it shows how the arrival of the railways in 1845 transformed its economy from just agriculture to a much more diverse range of jobs.

Over the years brewers and coachbuilders, including Norfolk Coachways, thrived in the town and employed hundreds of people.

Larkman & Sons. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Larkman & Sons. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group


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'Attleborough was famous for its railway tracks,' said George Ridgway, treasurer of the Attleborough Heritage Group.

'It brought two-way traffic as people deliberately built their units here. That area of town grew quite quickly.'

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But as technology has improved, the need for manual labour declined – and with it some of the more unskilled jobs that paid a wage.

Although the dualling of the A11 in very recent times has created potential for businesses around Attleborough, now a much smaller number of jobs remain in the town itself.

Tyrrell & Byford Granary. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Tyrrell & Byford Granary. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

Improved transport links though mean the population of the town has grown from around 3,000 people when it was mainly agriculture based to around 12,000 today.

It has become an ideal home for commuting into places such as Norwich and Cambridge, where there are more higher-skilled or technical jobs.

But that has, according to Mr Ridgway, created a feeling of a 'dormitory town' for some.

'Gradually with automation, there will be less unskilled work where you don't need a great army of staff,' he added.

United Dairies. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

United Dairies. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

However he said that as long as there are jobs for the town's population, whether in Attleborough or elsewhere, it will continue to thrive.

The talk takes place at the Connaught Hall, Attleborough on Saturday, March 25 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £7 for Heritage Group members and £5 for non-members. For more information or to book tickets, call 01953 455553 or email info@attleboroughheritage.org.uk

W Gaymer & Sons. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

W Gaymer & Sons. Picture: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group - Credit: Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group

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