Village Archivist Retires
After over 20 years
looking after the heritage of Hethersett, village archivist Bill Reekie
Bill was the first person
to take on the role of collecting and looking after Hethersett’s
historic documents back in 1994 and has helped to build up a collection of
over 5,000 photos, press cuttings and original documents going back to the
18th century. Now he is handing on the role to well known
Hethersett environmentalist and former parish councillor Gary Wyatt.
The official handover
took place at Bill’s Hethersett home with chair of the parish council
Fred Watkins thanking him for his efforts to keep history in Hethersett
“Bill has helped to
ensure that through the archives we have a social history of the village
and a marvellous reference source and something that can be developed and
added to. Bill can be very proud of what he has achieved as very few, if
any, Norfolk villages have anything comparable,” Mr Watkins said.
The original idea of
setting up an archive for the village came from Hethersett Parish Council
which was looking for a way of marking the national centenary of parish
“We were short of
information and documents on Hethersett and suggested the setting up of an
archive and Bill applied for the voluntary post of village archivist,”
Mr Watkins said.
“I had just completed a
history degree and it seemed the logical way to put it into practice,”
said Bill who is a retired dental surgeon. As the collection began to
build following appeals and by word of mouth, Bill obtained a lottery
grant to have the collection professionally catalogued and a web site
Today much of the
collection, which is currently kept in Hethersett Village Hall, comprises
copies of documents, the originals now being kept in Norwich. Bound copies
of the Hethersett Parish News going back to the 1890s are still kept in
the village, however.
Bill rates a parchment
from the 1700s showing that the Queen’s Head Public House was at the
time owned by the parish as the most interesting item in the archive.
Gary Wyatt, who has lived
in Hethersett for over 30 years, says that he is “very flattered to be
asked to take the collection over and is hoping to add to it and also
mount public displays of material during the year, probably with specific
Gary is also happy to give talks to groups and organisations about the archive and will be available in the Humphrey Back Room in Hethersett Village Hall on Mondays between 2 and 4 p.m. He is currently researching material from the village covering the period 1910 to 1920 to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.