Former evacuee tells tales of north Norfolk upbringing

Alison Cobb has penned a book about her upbringing in rural Norfolk. 

Alison Cobb has penned a book about her upbringing in rural Norfolk. - Credit: Supplied

She grew up in the shadow of the Second World War, but Alison Cobb's memories of her days as an evacuee in north Norfolk are mostly sunny. 

Mrs Cobb, now 88 and living in Oxford, has penned a book about her early years, which were partly spent away from her family at Cawston Manor and Bolwick Hall near Marsham.

Alison Cobb, nee Brittain, aged five. 

Alison Cobb, nee Brittain, aged five. - Credit: Supplied

Mrs Cobb, nee Brittain, said: "The owner of [Cawston Manor] was a flower magnate and was spending the war in Egypt, and the last thing he did was buy a dozen peacocks.

"The gamekeeper let them run all over the grounds and it was my job to keep them away from the chickens and stop them eating their food. It was difficult because they were so big."

Tommy Cobb, Alison's father, with her on his knee in 1934. 

Tommy Brittain, Alison's father, with her on his knee in 1934.  - Credit: Supplied

Mrs Cobb recalls the freedom she and the other evacuees staying at the manor houses had to explore the north Norfolk countryside. She said: "We dressed up warmly in our pixie hoods and Mackintoshes and we could go absolutely anywhere we liked. 

"Once, we found a farm with big barrels, and we turned the taps and found they held molasses, which was used to make silage.

"It was so delicious - one of us used to lay under the tap and drink it in while the other operated the tap. We always used to want sugar during the war."

Alison Cobb went onto become an accomplished competition rider. She is pictured here aged

Alison Cobb went onto become an accomplished competition rider. She is pictured here aged 14 in the Open West Norfolk Hunter trials in 1947. - Credit: Supplied

Most Read

Mrs Cobb also remembers riding her pony to lessons, passing German prisoners-of-war harvesting sugar beat in the fields. "They were always terribly nice and greeted me," she said. 

She also recalls an "exciting" day when the children spotted a new fighter plane in the sky, which they found out from a pilot was a De Havilland Mosquito. 

Mrs Cobb's book is called A Secret Never to be Told, a reference to her quest to unravel the mystery of her missing mother. 

The front cover of Alison Cobb's book, A Secret Never To Be Told. 

The front cover of Alison Cobb's book, A Secret Never To Be Told. - Credit: Supplied

The book aims to give an insight into the privileged lives of rural Norfolk 75 years ago, as seen through the eyes of a child. It also seeks to raise awareness of the devastating impact of postpartum psychosis - which Mrs Cobb's mother suffered from. 

It can be bought online here: www.lapwingpublishing.com/product-page-1/a-secret-never-to-be-told