Railwayman part of Norwich City stadium legacy has died aged 93

Basil Blake working on his beloved trains

Basil Blake working on his beloved trains - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

For more than 60 years, a piece of Norwich’s history has been displayed in pride of place above the players’ tunnel at Carrow Road. 

Now, more details have emerged about one of the men behind the presentation of the 'Norwich City' nameplate originally taken from the steam train of the same name. 

Basil Herbert Frederick Blake was born in Argyle Street on May 4, 1928, and was the son of Herbert and Lily. He died last month on October 8 at the age of 93, but leaves behind a legacy for football fans. 

Basil Blake as a choir boy

Basil Blake as a choir boy - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

At an early age, he was a choir boy at St Mark’s Church and went on to become a fire watcher from the top of City Hall and a police messenger riding a bantam motorbike. 

He joined the railway at 15 and worked for his entire working life at the Norwich railway yard for 48 years, initially working on steam trains - including The Flying Scotsman – before diesel and electric. 

A union representative for many years for the National Union of Railwaymen covering the Norwich and Norfolk area, he frequently travelled to London to be a part of national discussions. He was a hard-worker who covered three shift patterns, getting home at 6am on many occasions just to be called out again for an emergency. 

He married at 23 to Joyce May Folk, and they went on to have three boys, Steven, Ivan, and Nigel, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Mrs Blake passed away in April 1985 after a long illness. 

Basil Blake as a young man

Basil Blake as a young man when he worked on the railway in Norwich - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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Mr Blake was a lifelong Norwich City fan and season ticket holder, ironically having been born just behind where the club’s stadium is today. When Mr Herbert was born, the team played from its old stadium, The Nest, on Rosary Road. 

One of the locomotives in service on the Great Eastern Railway was the steam train, Norwich City, which ran from 1933 until 1959. 

At the end of its run, its nameplate was given by the Great Eastern Line of British Railways to the football club in recognition for the incredible cup run of the Canaries in the 1958/59 FA Cup. This saw the club, then a third division team, to the semi-finals, defeating Manchester United and Tottenham along the way, before losing in a replay to Luton Town.  

The '59 Cup Run' takes a notable place in Norwich City's history. 

Nameplate of the steam locomotive which was in service on the Great Eastern Railway, now on the entr

The nameplate at Carrow Road. - Credit: James Bass

Mr Blake was one of two men who worked on the railway at the time and who took the nameplate that sits above the players’ tunnel off the steam train, Norwich City, and walked it across the road before presenting it to the club – where it remains today. 

His family said: “He was a very sociable charismatic character who always had lots of friends. A remarkable man always reminiscing and recounting stories of his life and always knew what was going on with the football. He was an incredibly hard-working man and showed a very caring side.” 

A fan of bowling, he was the proud owner of trophies for both 10 pin bowling and bowls. Through the sport, he met Marion who remained his constant companion for 15 years. He also loved watching cricket. 

Basil Blake

Basil Blake - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Mr Blake died suddenly following a stroke. His funeral took place on November 3 at St Faith’s Crematorium at Horsham St Faith near Norwich. 

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