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Wednesday 2nd December 2020  

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PC Billy Norman – served in Quorn 1930 to 1944

In the 1980s and 1990s Harry Limbert, who lived in Quorn talked to a lot of the older people in Quorn and wrote down their memories of life in Quorn. In this extract taken from the second volume of his three booklets, ‘Old Quorn Tales – Memories Live Longer than Dreams’, Harry recorded older people’s recollections of PC Billy Norman:

“Billy Norman was the ‘Chief’ Constable of Quorn who was noted for his strict handling of the teenagers, not just those from Quorn but those from Barrow and Mountsorrel came under his ruling once they put their feet in Quorn. In the 1920's and 1930's a gang of youths very often walked from Mountsorrel to Quorn only to be met and interrogated by P.C. Norman, 'Where are you going? How long will you be in Quorn? And when they went home he made sure that they did it quietly. On summer nights the lads and lasses of Barrow, Quorn and Mountsorrel would meet on the slabs but it would not be long before Mr Norman appeared on the scene and if he thought that they were making too much noise he would send them back home, Barrow to Barrow, Quorn to Quorn, he knew them all. He has been known to stop a mixed group of Barrow teenagers who were out for a Sunday walk across the slabs to Quorn and if he did not like the looks of them he would turn them back across the slabs to Barrow. To some people he acted like the Mayor of Quorn. He would have had his hands full with the vandals of today (1990), but it would not stop him having a crafty drag in the dark corner made by the White Horse wall and Armston's paper shop. He would tell Mrs Armston to pull the blind down so that the light did not shine on him.

P. C. Norman's daughter, Barbara, told me that her father was a good dancer and if there was a dance in the village he would call in to see if everything was in order and he would have a dance with Barbara before leaving but it was a bit much for his daughter because he kept his lamp on the front of his tunic and you can imagine how uncomfortable this could be when dancing the old-fashioned 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

A favourite spot for the gathering of Quorn's lads and lasses was Bonsors, the bakers on the corner of Barrow Road and Loughborough road. The wall where the ovens were situated on the inside were always warm, sometimes hot, so they would stand with their backs and hands on the wall talking. Up would come Mr Norman and they expected to be cleared off but he did not speak to them only when he was several yards past, then he would turn to Barbara and say, 'don't be late'. As the village constable during the Second World War, he was kept very busy. When the air raid warning system was on red, the message was phoned to his house and on went his uniform, tin hat, gas mask, etc and out he went touring the village. Mrs Norman's job was to telephone all the stations which needed to be alerted. This included Wright's factory where the siren was installed.

During the war, someone in an excited state knocked on his door and shouted `Mr Norman, Mr Norman, come quick there's a German parachutist landed up the Leicester Road, come quick. P.C. 156, along with members of the fire brigade, sped along the road towards Mountsorrel in the old fire car with ladders attached to each side only to find that the German parachutist was an incendiary bomb hanging on the telephone wires.

There was always someone knocking on the constable's door for some reason. One night a very little Quorn man sporting a lovely black eye, knocked on his door and in a squeaky, quivering voice said, 'She's locked me out, Mr Norman, will you come back with me and get her to let me in?' Now Mr Norman being the man he was, thought it was sacrilege for a man to be locked out of his own home (no matter how small he was) and told the man 'Don't be a silly s get back and give her a latch lifter.' Very often a knock on his door was followed by the request for Mr Norman to come quickly as so and so and so and so were fighting on the green, putting his uniform on as he went through the jetty and barging through the crowd that were watching, he grabbed each man by the collar and banged their heads together. He then threw them away and said Now bugger off' ... and the men went quickly.

P.C. Norman was a strong, well built ex-army man and afraid of no-one. He was almost a police force on his own. He liked a smoke and he liked a drink. It was reputed that he never paid for his own drink all the time he was in the force because whenever he entered one of Quorn' s pubs someone would always say 'What are you going to have, Mr Norman`?'

Quorn's policeman was a very keen gardener and he won prizes at the Society`s show every year. (He instructed Mrs Norman never to pick a kidney bean unless it was 12 inches long.) One year he didn't. win a prize and one of the judges decided to commiserate with him and said, 'Never mind, Mr Norman, I'll buy a clutch of eggs from you.' But Mr Norman was a bad loser and still smarting at not winning anything snapped at the man, saying, ‘If I can’t win anything I don't sell anything.' He couldn't very well sell the the eggs as someone had given them to him to show in his name and that person wanted his eggs back.

During his reign as Quorn's policeman he lived with his family on the Leicester Road opposite the Pepper's Farm [30 Leicester Road]. Also along that part of the Leicester Road there was the Mill House pub, Adkins' fish and chip shop. Mrs Adkins was a very hard-working woman as she was a teacher In the day and served in the shop at night. Nearby was Miss Thirza MartIn's haberdashery that sold almost everything. The shop had the old pulley wire system where the money was placed in a pot and when the handle was pulled it shot along the wire to the cash office.”

More photographs and details of Billy's life can found in Artefact 2395.

Below left: Billy Norman in his police uniform.
Below right: Billy in his garden after he had retired.


 view larger image
   
 Submitted on: 2020-06-13
 Submitted by: Bill Norman (Billy’s grandson) and Gilda Roberts (Harry Limbert’s daughter)
 Artefact ID: 2394
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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