Arthur drove for car­riage mas­ters Wells

Let's Talk - - HAVE YOUR SAY -

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

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