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What’s in a Photo?

Plunkett’s Engineering

Philip Yaxley Published: 01 September 2023

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Robert next to the forge
Robert next to the forge with Frank on the left at the back..

These vintage photos show members of the well-known local Plunkett family posing in the engineering workshop of R. (Robert) Plunkett and Son (Barnabus) around 1910-1915. Described at the time as smiths and machinists, the firm was established in 1897 and was situated at the end of Bridewell Street near the entrance to Back Lane.

Barnabus with Maggie and Frank
Barnabus crouching with his daughter Maggie and Frank at the back..

It offered all manner of services from cycles being made to order and repaired, as well as lawn mower repairs to grinding knives and scissors. In the early 1920s Robert formed a partnership with three of his sons, Barnabus, Robert James and Frank, the firm becoming known as R Plunkett and Sons. By then, moving with the times, the business had widened the scope of its operation to include motor car repairs with “tyres and accessories in stock". Later the firm became known as agricultural engineers.

An image of an invoice
Invoices indicative of the times.

Robert and his family lived in Sycamore House, opposite where the Central Hall now stands in Back Lane, the property later being occupied by Gertrude and Robert James, who were both single and two of Robert’s eleven children. In the 1940s the business was taken over by Boddy’s (agricultural ) Limited and later by Gurney Reeve & Co Ltd, who still operate in the area today. I am indebted to Janice Halford, the granddaughter of Barnabus and who now lives at Aylsham, for information for this feature - and she can still remember the yard of the works always being full of tractors and ploughs awaiting repair!

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