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The day the people in one park became postcard stars

PUBLISHED: 15:19 19 July 2012

Postcard scans for Derek James

Postcard scans for Derek James

Archant

Terrific Tuck postcards capture the opening of Waterloo Park in Norwich - a home from home for local children with no gardens of their own.

<DJ double Monday July 16>

This was a piece of paradise for the people of Norwich and the photographer was hand to capture the people at play.

Thank you for all your memories of the city parks and playgrounds and a special thanks to Billy Jordan of Norwich who has kept this precious collection of rare Tuck postcards safe for many years.

He saw my feature on Waterloo Park and hunted out these cards taken when the park first opened.

These hand coloured photoprints of Waterloo Park were produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd soon after the park was re-opened in 1933 at a cost of £37,000.

Tucks were leading postcard publishers, the company, took glorious pictures of places and people all over the country, usually in packs of six. They were out of the top draw. The Rolls Royce of postcards.

This collection was published especially for E M Copley, stationer, of St Augustine’s Post Office at 71a St Austustine’s Street.

The famous firm was art publishers to the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales, with a worldwide business covering London, Paris and New York.

It kept a close eye on major events across the land and the opening of the Norwich parks in the 1920s and 30s marked brisk business in the city and county.

And for the people lucky enough to be featured on the cards, it was a dream come true. They were famous. The celebrities of their day.

Many of these families didn’t have gardens of their own. They lived in humble yards and courts in some of the poorest parts of Norwich - with outside loos and water supplies.

For them a day out in the park, with all its attractions, was such a delight. A real treat.

Most of these people couldn’t afford a day at the seaside, never mind a holiday and many had never left Norfolk in their lives.

But many of the men who built the city parks had been abroad. They had been to hell and back in the First World War.

They returned home with nothing but hellish memories and were desperate for work. The man who came to their rescue was a former First World War fighter pilot, Captain Arnold Sandys-Winsch,

He was appointed the first City Parks and Gardens Superintendent, told to build them and offer work to some of the thousands of men looking for jobs.

When he was appointed the town clerk, Arnold Miller, told him: “Now is your chance. Take it!”

And that’s just what he did. He formed a small army of workers.

Waterloo Park was already in existence. It was first opened in 1904 but by the 1920s the Captain decided to remake it and double the size to 18 glorious acres filled with buildings and attractions.

When the Lord Mayor, Sir Henry Nicholas Holmes, opened the park, hundreds of children were waiting at the gates and ran into the playground.

As you can see from these postcards they were delighted to their very own playground. Just look at the queue to get on that slide.

The trees, shrubs and borders at Waterloo had just been planted. They would blossom and flourish over the decades and in recent times the park has been given a facelift with 21st century attractions such as the £215,000 splash pad to the delight a new generation of young people.

<t> Thank you for all your park memories. Watch this space for more stories of how our parks came about.

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Raphael Tuck was born in 1821 in a small town in East Prussia. In 1865 he moved to England, opened a small shop in London selling and frames pictures and prints.

The firm became publishers and within a few years his three sons had joined the booming business. It started produced Christmas and New Year cards.

In 1893 they were granted a Royal Warrent by Queen Victoria and a few years later the first picture postcard was produced. It was of Mt Snowden in Wales which was sold to visiting tourists.

They entered the postcard market in the USA in 1900 with an office in New York and became leading players in the postcard boom. They knew what the public wanted.

Company records along with more than 40,00 original pictures and photographs were destroyed in the London Blitz.

The name eventually disappeared following various mergers.

<t> If you have any early postcards of the Norwich parks and gardens please get in touch.

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