Tributes to market trader Bill who loved his customers

File photo of Bill and Pauline Hartland.

File photo of Bill and Pauline Hartland. - Credit: Supplied by the family

Setting up his haberdashery market stall in a north Norfolk town centre, serving customers and simply chatting to those who stopped by - these were among Bill Hartland's happiest times. 

The 80-year-old, who lived at Weybourne, was "a worker" and someone who loved being outdoors, according to his widow, Pauline. 

Bill Hartland, haberdasher, was a regular trader at the Friday market in Aylsham's Market Place.

Bill Hartland, haberdasher, was a regular trader at the Friday market in Aylsham's Market Place. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

"He loved all the people, his customers," Mrs Hartland said. "He was always chatting, never stopped.

"Aylsham market was his favourite. All the ladies looked after him, he had lots of 'girlfriends'.

"They used to ring me up at the shop and say, if I give you my order can Bill bring it when he comes?" 

Bill Hartland, from Weybourne, was a well-known face in the north Norfolk

Bill Hartland, from Weybourne, was a well-known face in the north Norfolk community thanks to his haberdashery shop and market stall. - Credit: Supplied by the family

Mr Hartland died on June 26 after contracting pneumonia. 

He had been well-known in north Norfolk for decades, having run his Something Special market stall in Fakenham, Aylsham and Sheringham for 40 years, as well as a shop with the same name in Holt. 

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Until the pandemic hit, he also used to run a pub quiz at The Crown in Sheringham. 

He and Mrs Hartland, now 79, were originally from Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, and he had a brother, George.

Bill Hartland, right, once played golf with legendary goal keeper Gordon Banks.

Bill Hartland, right, once played golf with legendary goal keeper Gordon Banks. - Credit: Supplied by the family

The couple met when she was 16 and he was 17. 

"I worked at the Sutton Coldfield Ford main dealers, in the office, and Bill was a mechanic there," Mrs Hartland said. "Four years later we got married, in 1964."

Mr Hartland became the manager of a Ford showroom in Birmingham, and then set up a business of his own, doing vehicle repairs.

Mrs Hartland said he had a love of classic cars.

Bill Hartland, right, with his son Graham and grandson, Lincoln. Picture is from around 11 years ago. 

Bill Hartland, right, with his son Graham and grandson, Lincoln. Picture is from around 11 years ago. - Credit: Supplied by the family

The couple used to holiday in north Norfolk, where George lived with his family, and they also decided to move to the area when their daughter, Melanie, was 10, and son, Graham, was 15.

They both started out running the haberdashery stall, with Mrs Hartland also sewing for the business. Around 30 years ago they opened a shop in Holt, which later moved to its current location, around the back of the Feathers pub, off the Market Place.

"He loved it," Mrs Hartland said. "It was such a change from motor engineering. But that was probably a good thing because cars have changed so much.

"He loved having the company and he loved the outdoors. He was not an indoor man or a television man."

Bill Hartland, escorting his daughter, Melanie, to Weybourne church on her wedding day.

Bill Hartland, escorting his daughter, Melanie, to Weybourne church on her wedding day. - Credit: Supplied by the family

Mrs Hartland said he also enjoyed taking care of his garden, and making it an attractive spot for wild birds.

"He's got feeders all over the garden," she said.

"He loved getting up early in the morning and being out. He enjoyed his life. We were very lucky."

Golf was another hobby, and he fondly remembered a game he once got to play with legendary football goal keeper Gordon Banks.

Mr Hartland was chairman of a market traders' federation, based in Sheringham, until it disbanded, and he always defended the role of outdoor markets in town life. 

Graham still lives locally and Melanie now lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney in Australia.  

Mr Hartland is also survived by a grandson, Lincoln, and granddaughter, Jessica.

Fellow market traders at Aylsham celebrated his 80th birthday with him, when he passed that milestone on April 28.

At last Friday's market, floral tributes were set up where his pitch used to be.

A message with the flowers from Aylsham Town Council read: "To a well-respected market trader who will be sorely missed."

Deborah Dixon and Sarah Whybrow, who run a pet stall at the market, said Mr Hartland was a "one in a million".

They said: "He has been part of our market for many many years he was such a character with an amazing sense of humour."

Mr Hartland's funeral will be on at 2pm on August 1 at Cromer Crematorium.