Carriers were the traditional life line for small villages. Their carts, vans, and waggons provided a passenger and delivery service that was essential to small rural communities. They used vehicles similar to farm waggons but not usually as robust and they would be fitted with a canvas awning.
The waggon was a 4 wheeled heavy farm vehicle usually made by the local wheelwright. The carter walked alongside and controlled his horse by voice or a long whip. It had no suspension and large wheels. They would travel at about 3-4 m.p.h. and nearly all towns and villages advertised their services.
The village carrier would transport goods and passengers for a small fee to and from King’s Lynn and other nearby villages. The Norwich Directory of 1783 lists Creaf and Teal’s waggon leaving Norwich for Lynn each Thursday and returning on Friday at 10a.m. It would arrange for parcels to be carried on to Snettisham by local carrier and no doubt would stop in Dersingham if needed.
In 1822 John Wells left The Angel in Lynn for Dersingham every Tuesday and Saturday.
Pigot’s Directory of 1830 tells us that Abraham Gay’s cart travelled between Lynn and Dersingham from The Bushel in King Street every Tuesday and Saturday, the market days.
By 1836 he is listed in White’s Directory for Dersingham as a farmer and appears in the 1839 schedule as a tenant of John Motteux of Sandringham working Home Close and Cock Close. Both areas are situated near The Cock Inn (now The Feathers). He also worked land on the marshes owned by John Bellamy of Ingoldisthorpe Manor. By 1845 he has taken over at The Cock Inn and John Atkins is the carrier leaving for Lynn every Tuesday at Saturday at 9a.m.
In the same year Abraham Davis took over as the village carrier and he went on to serve our village in this capacity for thirty years. He had been married and had one child but it seems that some tragic event must have occurred as for most of his life he is recorded on the census returns as a single man. Abraham died in 1899 aged 86 and the vicar Edward Penny recalled the old man in the church magazine:
The quiet voice of Abraham Davis the obliging old carrier was heard for many years on the Lynn Road on market days urging on his steady old horse. Did he ever use a whip?”
I found a reference to Abraham in the Lynn News of 1880 when Abraham Davis, a carrier of Dersingham, was charged by Inspector Grimes for allowing his horse to stray on the highway at Dersingham on the 20th April, Fined 1/- and 10/- costs.
Sadly although I have found Abraham’s final resting place in the churchyard I do not know yet where he lived in the village. The verse on his gravestone indicates how well he was regarded.
Why do we mourn departing friends/or shake at death’s alarms/’Tis but the voice that Jesus sends/To call them to his arms/..........Heaven at rest in time.
Kelly’s Directory of 1874 records Abraham but also informs the reader that there were several other carriers to and from Lynn passing through the village.
In 1883 we read that as well as Abraham, William Flegg has set up as a carrier also and that both travel to Lynn each Tuesday and Saturday returning the same day.
Abraham Davis is no longer recorded as a carrier in 1890 when he would have been 77 years old and another new name is recorded. As well as William Flegg, George Mitchell enters the list and they both now travel to Lynn on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
George Mitchell had a house on Manor Road called Liddell House which still stands opposite the shop that was Parker’s Store but is now the new tea shop. The date stone records the year of construction as 1881.
In 1896 George Mitchell and Thomas Rudd are both operating a carrier service to Lynn on Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays.
There were other carriers that certainly passed through our village to take the Turnpike Road into Lynn. Two carriers operated from Brancaster and called at The Compasses in Snettisham before continuing through Dersingham to Lynn.
More detail will be added about specific carriers in the future.