Working Lives

North Walsham pharmacist and his son the farmer and teacher (1920-2020)

Location: North Walsham

Geoff talks about his father Philip who was a pharmacist and optician in North Walsham, Norfolk,  from the 1920s. His mother worked in the business alongside his father. The family was very well-known in the town. During the Second World War they hosted young servicemen and it seems their house was also used for secret purposes. Geoff did not follow his father into the business but became first a farmer and then went into teaching, including running a sailing course for less academic children. When he retired he became involved the Mundesley community, and was a watchman for Coastwatch in the village.

Settling in North Walsham

My father, Philip Griston, was born in 1898. He left school at age 15 and did an apprenticeship at a pharmacy in Mundesley for two years until he joined the army at age 17. After serving for four years in the Royal Sussex Regiment during the Great War, Philip went to London and studied to become a pharmacist and an optician. A gentleman called John Robert Oliver who was a chemist in North Walsham and knew my father said to him ‘What I would like, Phil, is for you to come in as a partner.’ Although his parents said, ‘I think, you might be starting rather too soon, somebody else could be a partner’, Dad joined and never looked back really. They had a partnership which started in 1924 and lasted until Mr Oliver died in the early 50s.

Dad worked alongside Mr Oliver when he first started and until Mr Oliver became too old to do the job. From then on Dad ran the business. He also did eye tests six days a week. Every afternoon he would do anything between three and five optical tests. There were no other opticians in the area, of North Walsham, Cromer, or Mundesley, at the time, so they were never short of customers.

Philip Alexander and Geoffrey Joseph Griston, early 1900s

There were other pharmacies in North Walsham, a Boots and Roland Ling’s. The three of them, the manager of Boots, Dad and Roland Ling were great friends and they’d come to a sort of a mutual way of working things. For example, they’d split the hospital orders in North Walsham so that each of the businesses got four months in the year and that worked very well. There were people in and out of the shop all the time and the optician’s business brought in another group of people.

The cat with nine lives!

The pharmacist was also, in many of these places, the natural person to go to instead of the vet. Vets in that day were only really interested in farm animals. They weren’t very interested in pets and so people used to come into the shop with a pet and say, ‘Can you help with this?’ One thing that they did do, which Dad never really enjoyed but did, was to dispose of pets that were too old or infirm.

There was one very funny episode in the family, we were all very amused with. An elderly lady had taken her cat in and said ‘Can you put him to sleep because he really isn’t at all well? He can’t walk…’ So Dad said ‘Well, yes, we can put him to sleep’. The old lady paid her half-crown which was the cost of destroying and getting rid and clearing up from the cat, but about ten minutes later she came bustling into the shop saying ‘What did you do?’ and Dad said, ‘Well you know what…’ and she said ‘Well, when I got home he was sitting on the doorstep waiting for me!’ Apparently, he took on a new lease of life after that, I gather.

Family business

My parents met in London, while they were both studying optics. i think that there were probably not very many ladies who did optics in the early 1920s, but she was one of them. I think it was very much a man’s sort of area. When she first qualified, she worked in Sheffield and she and Dad used to try to meet each other every now and again. They got married in 1926. She never practiced optics after that. If things got frantically busy she would go through into the shop but normally she sat in the office and did all the paperwork, all the bookwork for the optical business and for the rest of the business as well. I used to go into the shop on my way home from school very often just in case there was something to eat – I had a good appetite for a ten-year-old!

They had to send for lenses to be made in Norwich by John Hewins, who had a lens factory. He made lenses for several years until he got very fed up with it and thought it would be nice to get back to being an optician He bought Dad’s optical practice when Dad retired, and they remained great friends.

Full house

I was born in 1936, just before the war and I remember various parts of the war. When my father did his army service in the First World War, he was stationed in Southend for their first initial training of six weeks and I can remember Dad saying, that the people in Southend were absolutely fantastic. They really did do everything they could for them knowing that they were all seventeen- and eighteen-year-old young men, all off to France. When the Second World War broke out, I was three I think, and our house suddenly filled with soldiers…

Dad had heard that there was a searchlight site being set up on the outskirts of North Walsham and that among the people who were laying it, there was a corporal and six soldiers that came from Southend. With just a word with Mum, Dad got on a pushbike and cycled down and said ‘Look, your people looked after me very well, we’ve got a house in the town, we’ve got a very efficient hot water system, if you want to come for baths and things, just come up.’ We had a house full of soldiers from that moment onwards really.

We entertained the soldiers through the war, right up to the end. At least three came to visit until the end of the fighting in Europe. There were others who came till the end of the Far East war, and two of them actually stayed in our house the night before they got married to local girls. And we kept in touch with them until about ten years ago, when we last heard from them.

A well-liked man

The house had four bedrooms, a big dining room, a big kitchen, that was it really. And we also had a tennis-court which was pure luck. My grandfather bought the plot that the house was built on. It had belonged to the Co-op but it had been leased to the North Walsham Tennis Club and they had put four tennis courts on the piece of land that my grandfather managed to buy. He built a house for Mum and Dad and kept the best of the four tennis courts, the other three went into the building and the gardens. We had a really good court which got lots of use because Dad used to invite people to come and use it. The youth clubs in North Walsham used to come once a week because there were no public courts there in those days.

Dad was very sociable and well known around North Walsham. I’ve only heard one criticism. Apparently, somebody caught the blind outside the shop on their lorry and he got too close, and the man said, ‘Your father was really cross.’ He wasn’t often really cross, he found things amusing rather than get cross about them.

P A & Mabel Griston sitting in the centre of the second row

Dad had a very early Kodak 16 mm Ciné camera, which had pictures but no sound in those days. Whenever there was a sort of family affair or something going on in North Walsham, he would take a piece of film of it. Recently we sent it to the Norfolk Archive, and they took copies of what they wanted and sliced all the bits together. The videos are posted on the North Walsham Archive Website: https://www.northwalshamarchive.co.uk/mr-griston-films.The last one they took was my passing out parade when I was commissioned into The Royal Norfolk Regiment… They went right through family weddings, the family of the next-door neighbours on the lawn with parents when we were very small, the 1947 snow…

Skating on thin ice!

Skating was, I would say, in the blood. Westwick, now called Captain’s Pond, was where we all used to skate. Westwick Pond was in the frost pocket and we could skate there on days when they didn’t skate anywhere else in Norfolk because the cold air just fell into the spot.

If there was skating on Westwick and it was a weekday my grandfather, who was a tailor in North Walsham, would close his business at lunchtime on the day and give them all a half day off and if they wanted to go skating they could and if they didn’t he said ‘I’m going to enjoy myself so you might as well do something you’d like to do.’

My grandfather had been one of the unofficial testers [of the ice] and when grandfather died, Dad took over. I remember particularly the Sunday morning when we went down and there were several people there, including the two Doctors Macleod and their family and they said ‘Is it very safe Phil?’ and my father said ‘Well, there’s only one way to find out.’ So he climbed over the railing, there was no fence as there is now and walked out onto the pond and he got about fifteen feet away before he turned round and he said, ‘Well, this seems alright’, bounced a bit, started to walk back to the bank and suddenly tippled straight down as far as the knees! He was sort of standing there when unfortunately he lost his balance and sat down and the water came up to his underarms. We managed to save him from going any further in and everyone was in absolute hysterics about the whole thing, including my dad who thought it was the funniest thing that had ever happened. Fortunately we had a car there that time so he went straight home and had a hot bath and a tot of Scotch and suffered no ill effects.

The first year I was allowed to skate I was four. They took me to Antingham Pond, my father and grandfather, Mum and my sister. Dad said to me, ‘Now, come on, you’ve been pestering me to skate, we’ve got something for you.’ They’d found a very old pair of skating shoes, boots with the skates attached properly, and he said, ‘Here you are look, we’ve borrowed these, try it’. They sat me on a rug in the middle of Antingham Pond and took my shoes off and put my skates on and said ‘There you are, now what you have to do to skate is don’t put your skate straightforward, try it to the side of it and get to the bank where Mum is’, and that was my first skating lesson.

I think that Dad and I skated at least once in a year until I left school… about 1953. After that I took my son just once. I don’t think anybody ever skates these days. There’s a quite substantial net fence along the roadside which wasn’t there in those days.

The grandfather in Oxford

My grandfather had a business as a master coach builder near Oxford. The family had built coaches for horses, and he built car bodies for expensive cars. Almost always, while he was working, he had at least one Rolls Royce in the works. He would go and collect a chassis and an engine from Derby, drive it down to Oxford and put it in the workshop. He would have people from the Royal College of Arms do crests on the various Rolls. All the local gentry used to have their Rolls, and their sort of family crests on the doors.

Dad would take us, on a Sunday, for the holidays. Occasionally he would stay for a bit, and other times Mum would take us down. Mum drove in the end more than Dad did because unfortunately, in his fifties, he had shingles. The shingles started in his scalp, and as it came down over his forehead into his eye it left him totally blind in his right eye. He still did most of his work for several years after that. He said, ‘Oh, you can manage if you work carefully.’

In the spring of ‘41 my father and mother decided that my sister and Mum and I would go to her parents who lived just outside Oxford. We stayed there until September when the risk of the invasion was much lower because Dad said if he’d had to do anything, he didn’t want the thought of the family being there and suffering because of it.

So, we stayed in my grandparents’ house in Oxford and it wasn’t the happiest of places. My grandmother was very lovely, and everybody loved her. Grandfather was a bit of a Victorian bully in a way. I can remember my sister saying ‘Well, I want to go home, I think I could put up with Hitler better than grandfather.’ She was fourteen at the time I suppose…

Preparing for an invasion

I was four, probably, when a gentleman arrived at the house and sat and talked to Mum and Dad for a bit. Later my mother did a lunch and he came again. He was a very nice man, not a youngster at all. About four o’clock he disappeared. He and Dad had been around the house a couple of times, but I knew really nothing else. This man arrived once more and the second time he came he was wearing a naval uniform. They talked about things, and a workman came in and did some work in this roof space in the house, and then everybody went away.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen or thereabouts, that the subject came up. I’d been told as a small boy that Dad was doing hospital work. As I knew it, he went and X-rayed people every day. That was fine, and I accepted that. I said ‘Well, what did you really do?’ He said ‘Well, they built a radio transmitter into the chimney breast (they’d taken some bricks out and put the radio transmitter in there) and they gave me a selection of Teach Yourself German books, so that if we got an invasion (which at that time in 1941 was very likely) we would have been trained and able to report into headquarters from behind the enemy lines.’ Dad wasn’t the only one who had prepared like this; there were others all along the East Coast.

Three jobs at once

Grandfather was very involved when the hospital was being built as a War Memorial and when they told them they were going to have an X-ray room Dad said he would like to train as a radiographer and he did.

This changed his routine for the day: he would insist on arriving at the shop at a quarter to nine and he would see the girls: Joan Knights, Peggy Fabb, and Gladys Howard, then he would go up to the hospital. There was a bench outside the X-ray room where people would sit and they would have a note from their doctor saying what they wanted X-rayed and Dad would do it. Some mornings it was one person, some mornings it was four or five. He did what had to be done and then took the X-rays from the previous day and put them in the doctor’s folder. Then he would go back to the shop about 12 o’clock and in the afternoon he would do his eye-tests. He was doing three jobs every day!

The shop staff was Mr Ames who was a fully qualified dispenser, and there were always at least two girls and sometimes three. The staff were great, I remember one, a ginger-haired girl called Gladys Howard, and I remember her very well, because apparently when she was twelve she went into the shop with her mum one day and said ‘Look Mr Griston, I shall leave school in four years’ time, can I have a job?’ Gladys came and worked for him until family commitments kept her at home. The staff were like that, most were there for a long time. It was a happy place to work.

First class photographic service

The shop building had a flat upstairs and Mr and Mrs Oliver lived in the back with a separate entry. In the front rooms, which they said they didn’t want, Dad had a photographic studio with a dark room. He did weddings in North Walsham and several of the villages round, and then in the ‘30s he and Mum ran a sort of 24-hour Print Your Pictures service. If you took your film in to the shop before they closed at seven in the evenings, which was standard time then, Mum and Dad would develop all the negatives when they shut the shop. Photos would be ready and done by a chap early in the morning. I believe that was Mr Edwards, who carried on in photography after Dad retired. He would go in about 4 o’clock and print any of the negatives that Dad and Mum had done the night before, and you could go in at 9 o’clock and collect your pictures.

Career advice, National Service

I have a sister who’s eight and a half years older than me. My poor mum had several miscarriages before I came along. My sister and I went to a school run by a Mr and Mrs Godfrey which was a very small school. I went there when I was six and I left when I was eleven and I went to the Paston.

My career advice from the school was given to me by the Headmaster. You used to have to go in, in the 6th Form, and stand there while he’d tell you what he thought you ought to do! I gave him a few problems really. He said, ‘What are you going to do Griston?’ and I said, ‘I don’t think my A-level results are going to get me into university.’ He said, ‘I’m sure they’re not!’ and he said, ‘Right, we don’t have to worry about you ‘cos you’re going to do National Service, aren’t you?’ So I said ‘Well, yes’, and he said ‘Right, that’s it, okay, thank you, goodbye.’

That’s what I did, I went in to do my National Service. I first joined on the 4th November 1954 and I had to go to Northampton to join because Northampton was part of the East Anglian Brigade. We had the opportunity to say that we were interested in getting a commission and, fortunately, I managed to make a success of the WOSB week which was the War Office Selection Board. I went to Eaton Hall which was in Chester and trained as a National Service Officer and then joined the First Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment at Colchester.

Catching terrorists in the mountains

Very soon after I joined, we spent the next year in Cyprus during the emergency. In the days of EOKA [National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters] and General Grivas and Archbishop Makarios. I was a Troop Commander, I had a platoon of 29, 30 men and we went off into the mountains at times. We had a wanted list of people we were always trying to catch. We used to devise ways we could try and lure these people so we could catch them.

I had a wonderful little man, his surname was Smith, and because in the Army Smiths were fairly numerous, he was known as Smith 08. I had two others, 11 and 16. We were on an exercise in the Troodos Mountains; my company commander who was a great sportsman and a great hunter devised a scheme which was really rather like a pheasant shoot to try and catch terrorists. We spent half a day and a night, out in the hills with another platoon, starting ten miles away, gradually walking towards us, the idea being that they would drive people who we wanted in our direction. And we had one wonderful bit of Norfolks’ luck: Smith 08 said ‘I’ve just caught one of the terrorists, sir.’ We said, ‘You’ve only been here a week or two’ and he had, and he said, ‘Oh, I’m glad you were close because I didn’t tell him I hadn’t got any ammunition in my rifle!’ We got him and he was duly looked after by somebody else.

From farming…

When I finished National Service, I didn’t want to be a chemist or an optician. I wanted something, if possible, that I could be outside. I loved being out of doors. I was sport mad which is why my school results hadn’t been as good as they should have been because I was more interested in football and cricket and hockey and tennis, than I was in anything else.

Before I could go to an agricultural college, I had to do a years’ practical on a farm. So I had a year on two farms. The first one was a Mr Dewing’s on the outskirts of Norwich where I spent three months looking after bullocks, and feeding things and loading lorries by hand. After that I transferred to Mr Rob Alston’s at Witton, where I was relief milkman. They had a herd of 75 cows to be looked after. When that finished, I went to Writtle, the Essex Institute of Agriculture, and I did a National Diploma in Agriculture.

The first job I got was with a company called Lawes Chemicals and I worked from the laboratory that they had in the factory. There was a chemist who worked there and I would go out onto the farms, when requested, and do soil samples of any field that they were worried about. I would go through all the samples, we would have a discussion as a group as to what we thought we should advise them, then I would take them back to the farmer and give him our answer as to what we suggested he should do.

It was quite good, I was living in a flat in Braintree while I did that, and my wife-to-be was at Writtle, just twelve miles down the road. Marion and I had a year when we were both there, and then I left for Lawes Chemicals and she did another year before going off to the Teaching Diploma. That was 1958 or ‘59, and we were married in 1961.

Marion & Geoff Griston’s wedding in 1961

I had a message, through my father, from a Mr Arthur Walker, who was the Chairman of Cubitt & Walker’s Millers and Merchants. Dad said, ‘Arthur says when are you going to come back to Norfolk so he can give you a job?’ so that suited me. What they offered was that they would build me a laboratory, so we could do all our own testing on the foods and that would be a step for promotion.

Well, in fact they never did get the laboratory built. It was over-ambitious, so I ended up as an agricultural sales rep and I hated it. Absolutely hated it. The final straw was when I called on a friend one morning. He was a long-term friend in the area where I worked and as I knocked on the door and he opened he said ‘Oh, lucky you, you’re the thirteenth rep I’ve had round this morning.’ I thought ‘No, I’ve had enough of this.’

… back to school, on the other side of the desk

That was when a man called John Mattocks who’d been my tutor in the A-Level group at the Paston who we knew very well indeed, said, ‘How’s it going?’ and I said ‘I hate it John. I’m going to have to find something else.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you teach?’ and I said, ‘Oh, come on you know how hard I worked at school. Do you think I’d make a good example for people?’

John worked at Keswick which was a teacher’s training college. And two years before this, they had started taking men students in, it had been a ladies’ college before that. John said, ‘Tell you what, come and have a word with our people, see if there’s anything we can do.’ So, to cut a long story short, I saw Miss Duff, the Principal of the college, who was absolutely fantastic. She rang me up on a Saturday morning and said ‘Mr Griston, are you busy this morning?’ I said ‘No.’ She said, ‘Can you get to Keswick?’ and I said ‘Yes.’ She said ‘Look, I’ve organised it, if you would like to, we will accept you as a student on Monday morning with the rest of the students.’ I did two years there and it was very good.

As a newly qualified teacher in those days, the County chose the school for you, and they were very good because they chose one which was in reach of Mundesley fairly easily. By that time, Marion had Jenny, our daughter, and two years later our son Phil was born. Marion’s mother was very poorly and suffered terribly from arthritis. She lived in a granny flat next to us and to move would have been absolutely awful and they said, ‘No, well you don’t need to move, you can do it from there.’ So that’s why I ended up at Stalham High School. It was a rural school and had a reputation that was not all that good. I went with my friends saying, ‘Well, when you’ve done your probationary year Geoff, you can go where you like’. 29 years later I did.

I loved it there. When I started, there were 13 staff, 300 pupils, and the reputation was based on the fact that the headmaster, who died just before I started there, was an awful public relations man. He didn’t tell people all the good things that went on. He apologised for the bad things that happened. It was very much the case of children being perceived based on how they behaved on the school bus. I think that was probably the biggest thing that people noticed.

I started off as a probationary science teacher, taught biology for a year and then we changed the thing to a general science class. Every year as I did the timetable, I also taught at least two groups of PE [physical education], much to my delight. By this time, I was Deputy Head and had been Head of Science and senior master in the years between 1965 and 1971. In a short time I went all the way through from probationary teacher to Deputy Head. I had a term as Acting Head and on the first day I closed school due to the snow, much to everyone’s delight!

I had a system with the timetable: I talked about it with all the six or seven heads of department together. Then I would see them all one at a time, and I would eventually go back and tell them all together how I had decided that we ought to do the finances in school; how that would affect each department and how it would affect the time various people had.

The only occasion it was questioned, was when the Headmaster said to me, ‘You need to have more time for administration’ which meant me stuck in an office with a brick wall outside. I said ‘Fine – but there’s one thing. If I do that, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to teach this group.’ ‘Oh, oh, I’m not quite so sure about that.’ In the future, I always just said ‘Look if you don’t do it this way, you’re going to have to teach them.’ He was a super Headmaster and he did everything we asked him. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, twenty years.

‘Filby Studies’

One of the highlights of my teaching career was a course that I started up called Filby Studies. I taught sailing to students whose academic options were more limited. This program was a huge success and benefited about 70 students over five or six years.

Each year part of my job was to do the school timetable. The head and the other deputy and I would meet and discuss the curriculum and the timetable. All students would do the basic subjects of English, Maths, and Science and the others were all options — such as history, geography, languages, domestic science. During the discussion we realized that there were about a dozen youngsters who were academically taxed and whose choices were more limited. When everybody else was choosing their options, they only had one subject they could opt for – art or woodwork – while the rest of the intake could opt for seven or eight subjects, any of which they were capable of doing. Having thought about this for a long time, I contacted two friends, Jim and Jill Searle. This was in the mid 1980’s, and Jim was the Norfolk County Council employee responsible for sailing in Norfolk, and Jill was warden of the sailing base at Filby Broad. I arranged a meeting with them and asked if they could assist me one day a week. What I proposed was when children began in Year 10 they could opt for a morning sailing or working at the Filby Base. From September when they entered Year 10 until the autumn half term they sailed Topper dinghies. The good thing was that sailing a Topper was very safe and very simple.

Jim and Jill didn’t help in this part of the course. I sat on the end of the jetty with my feet in the rescue boat. And as they were sailing in a limited piece of the broad there was absolutely no danger attached. After two mornings they were all sailing the course and already showing signs of both enjoying and learning the techniques involved. Each Tuesday until the end of October we repeated the exercise but made life slightly more difficult by putting buoys down that they had to sail around. Without exception they had all done well and were already able to tell other members of the school that they could do something the others couldn’t.

Each year after the October half term holiday, we went to the base where Mr & Mrs Searle were waiting for us. What they had done in preparation was to split the group into 3: Jim took one, Jill another, and I took the 3rd. All of these groups were involved in some sort of annual maintenance or tidying the base and putting things away for the winter. From then until Christmas, those groups rotated through Jim, Jill, and myself. The three adults undertook a task, and the children helped us, and learned the skill in that way. Very soon they were proving very useful and undertook the tasks that we had planned for the winter. One year we assisted when we made a cement road from the hut to the jetty. Another year a group laid a water pipe from the hut to the jetty, which meant boats could be washed down before they were pulled away and into the boat parks.

When school resumed after Christmas we continued with our maintenance and repairs, and after the spring half term we went back to sailing every week until September. The class was set up as a two-year programme. As one group finished their first year, a new group began so that there were two different levels of students each year. Only one person of the 70-odd students I taught over five or six years dropped out of the course. She came and saw me after the 2nd time and said ‘I did try but I’m frightened stiff when I go in that boat.’ That was the only one out of the whole lot that decided it wasn’t for them.

One of the most popular exercises we did once we were sailing on the water – once we got through the basic sailing, how you steered, which side of the boat to sit on – was a race, where during the race you had to capsize your dinghy, get back in, and then continue with the race. Otherwise you were disqualified. People were very nervous the first time we did it, but after a very short time that’s all they wanted to do. They got so good at it that they could turn the dinghy over and not get wet at all.

One of the most pleasing things as far as I was concerned was when a number of members of staff asked how I had managed to change the confidence of some of those students. And I pointed out that some of them had never actually felt like they had succeeded at anything before. At least two of them I know are still sailing. I couldn’t have managed this course without the help I got from Jim and Jill Searle, and they appreciated the maintenance work that the children had done during the winters.

Busy retirement

I officially retired at the end of 1993 but in fact I kept going in two mornings a week for the next year because I had two exam groups and I’d seen what changes in teachers made. In my own case I’d had one that really put me off Chemistry. So I said, ‘No, I’m going to go back until they finish their exam.’ I went in as a sort of a spare part really, only two mornings a week. When they all finished their exams, I packed up.

Since retirement I’ve been mostly interested in the family and I’ve kept busy. I became involved with MADRA which is the Mundesley and District Recreation Association. I was on their committee for thirteen years, and was chairman a couple of times. We managed to get the Knapton School football pitch and enough land to have a cricket square and a further football pitch. So we had two football pitches divided by this quite large cricket square in the middle, which is what we set out to do.

I was also a watchkeeper on the Mundesley Coastwatch, which was the second unit started in England. The National Coastwatch Institution was started by two fishermen in Cornwall. The chap who started our group, Richard May, who was an ex master mariner, went to see them and figured, ‘We could do that, be really useful.’ So he started one in Mundesley and I was one of five people who completed the first twenty years as a Watch Keeper. The place was manned from 8 o’clock in the morning till 6 o’clock at night and a bit longer in the summer, and as a Watch Keeper you did two hours a day.

There is an old coastguard watchtower at Mundesley that we used. We had a much better view of the sea than anybody else and also we saw a lot of the beach. Quite a number of the episodes we got involved with, involved the fact that we’d seen them from the tower and either called the Coastguard or sent someone down to look after them. On occasions we would call the Coastguard and other times use a local lifeboat. Mundesley had its own inshore boat which was kept running by the village. We didn’t spend a lot and we managed to keep our heads above water. Now, of course, it’s completely different.

When we started the equipment was one German ex-army pair of binoculars, a huge pair which weighed a ton, so they had to be left on a stand, and a telephone, that was it. Now everything is computerised. We used to log all the ships that went past that we could see, and we would guess what type of ship they were. Most people learned very well to recognise all the different types that went past. Now, of course, they radio contact with the skippers and you know not only what type of ship they are, what their name is, how far they’re going, where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. It’s a different thing altogether. Still, it was valuable.

Geoff at Coastwatch

Geoff Griston (1936-2022) talking to WISEArchive on 21st September 2020 in Stalham.

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