By rosa mcmahon
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
He wore thick black glasses, was registered blind and rode a tricycle through mid Norfolk selling everyday items to the community.
A door-to-door salesman, Frederick Beckerton was a well known character who made his living by providing people living in his home-village of South Pickenham, and Ashill, Oxborough, Necton, Holme Hale and beyond, with the items they needed.
But almost 40 years after his death, his daughter, Dot Bilverstone, found two dusty suitcases when she and her brother, Graham, were clearing out their late mother Jean’s house.
She decided, six months ago, to take the suitcases, filled with stockings, wool and other items from the 1960s, to Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, thinking they might be put on display.
But she said she has been overwhelmed by the interest of the museum, and EDP readers.
She said: “I didn’t think anything of what he did, it was how we were brought up.”
But after the EDP appealed for memories of Mr Beckerton, numerous local people contacted Lauren Brumby, assistant curator at the museum, to share their memories.
Miss Brumby, 24, said she had been fascinated with Mr Beckerton, known as Freddie, ever since his daughter brought in the suitcases.
He was born in 1908 and while he was not totally blind, he was registered and had very poor sight.
Mr Beckerton used to take his items for sale, which included the most basic things like salt and pepper, in the suitcases when he sold items on-foot. He also sold items from a box on a tricycle marked ‘F Beckerton Grocer’. Miss Brumby said: “Dot came in with the suitcases and I asked her why her father had so many pairs of stockings inside. That’s when the story came out of how he was a travelling salesman.
“We thought it was incredible that a partially blind man was travelling round selling these items. He sounded like a real character and we were sure people would remember him.”
Strong memories of Mr Beckerton – who died in 1975 – have flooded in to Gressenhall, and the museum is hoping for more to surface. Mrs Bilverstone is especially hoping that someone may have a photograph of her father’s bike, as it was sold after he died.
Her brother, Graham Beckerton, 54, from Norwich, remembers going with his dad through the villages.
He said: “I went out with him when I was younger, calling at people’s houses.
“One of the things I remember was drinking so much tea as we stopped at each house for a sale.
“It all feels a bit strange talking about him like this, because I lost him at a young age, and seeing all of his things here [in Gressenhall] brings back the memories again.”
Charles Rose, 85, said he remembered Mr Beckerton could tell the difference between a pound and ten shilling note, despite having very limited eyesight.
Many others recalled how he would hold the money very close to his face, and another said he always knew what money had been given to him, and was not easy to trick.
Another said local boys used to run after him when he was cycling along, and another recalled buying tea towels from him, which he went to London to buy.
If you have a memory of Frederick Beckerton please telephone Lauren Brumby, at Gressenhall, on 01362 869393.