Arthur drove for carriage masters Wells
It was interesting to see in the October issue, the photograph of Arthur Howlett, which brought back memories.
I think I am right in saying that Arthur was employed by Fitt Brothers in Ber Street, Norwich, as a limousine driver for funerals and other work.
When Gordon Fitt decided to retire he gave first option to take over the limousine part of his business to A C Wells.
The three brothers had not long got over the loss of their father Arthur Charles Wells so they arranged to buy several limousines and hearses to add to their existing fleet and the remainder were taken to London and sold.
The drivers who were employed by Gordon Fitt were taken on by A C Wells and I think I am right in saying that Arthur was one of those. He then became a casual limousine driver as and when required but otherwise was happy to drive a taxi and plied for hire on the ranks.
He was a quiet type of person and unassuming, a gentleman. He enjoyed his pint and always knew where he could get a pint early in the morning before the pubs actually opened.
At that time Wells, who were known as carriage masters, had a fleet of seven limousines and five hearses, 25 self-drive cars, 21 London taxis, three removal vans and one car for learner drivers.
The funeral cars were hired by undertakers as 90% in Norfolk did not have any of their own. We used to hire out to customers mainly in Norwich but also went to Fakenham, Alysham, Great Yarmouth, Thetford and all points in between. It was a good business.
As soon as Geoffrey Watling heard of the sale of the funeral fleet to London, he immediately chased there and bought them back to Norwich and said he would “run Wells off the road” but a few years later he backed off and disposed of those vehicles.
In the end Wells had to go into voluntary liquidation as the lease on their rented property in Chapel Field Road expired. They tried desperately to find other premises but each time Norwich City Council or Norfolk County Council outbid or rejected plans.
The site at Chapel Field Road was bought by Norwich City Council, which demolished the lot and made a school playground.
Sadly all three brothers have passed away. At that time I was office manager. It was good while it lasted but the cards were stacked against the company.
The photograph in Let’s Talk was the third one that I have recognised someone in and been reminded of the past.
I always look forward to each new edition although it seems a long wait in between!
RAY SINCLAIR Taverham, Norfolk