Duffield`s Garage and Motor Engineers

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J.W. Duffield & Son Ltd

The Company Founder

James Frederic Duffield 1900-1989, known as `Jim` was born in the village of Tasburgh Norfolk. His father William Lant Duffield was a flour and corn miller at Tasburgh / Saxlingham Mill, later generations of the family are still involved with the business up to the present day.

James attended both the Edward Vl Middle School and the City of Norwich School during 1907-1914. Between 1916 and 1918 he worked for A. Pank and Son Ltd. on the overhaul of steam engines, internal combustion engines and the installation and repair of factory machinery. He also attended the Norwich Technical Institute part-time between1916-1928. After enlisting at Wymondham in 1918 he spent time in Royal Army Service Corps workshops at Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain Wiltshire. Upon his return to Norwich in 1919 he worked for W. Stringer and Co. engineers until 1922 when he then made a return to A.Pank and Son Ltd. as a foreman in their workshops, remaining there until 1928.

The Business Venture

In that same year of 1928 James decided to set up a business of his own, as Duffield`s Garage and Motor Engineers at 304 Constitution Hill. With petrol pumps and workshops the business continued to thrive and remained as part of the local business scene for a considerable number of years. Over that time the business became well known for their expertise in the field of diesel engines being local agents for the manufacturer Perkins and later with their connection to the Vetus Engine Company of the Netherlands. There was also a body repair shop toward the rear of the premises in Clover Road on the site of a former bag and sack company. This also served as the premises of Duffield Marine Ltd. The premises on Constitution Hill became unsuitable for the needs of the company and were vacated later followed by the body shop in Clover Road which relocated on the Whiffler Road Trading Estate. There was a further change to the business when it became known as Volvo Truck and Bus Ltd. currently located at 24-28 Frensham Road on the Sweetbriar Road Industrial Estate. Duffield Marine Ltd. was the last part of the business to leave Clover Road moving to premises on Salhouse Road which is now C.J.Ball motorcycles.

The Family

In 1921 James had married Rosamund Thelma Brewster Middleton 1898-1986 in Great Yarmouth the place of her birth. Jim was a very religious man and for many years was an avid campanologist at St.Peter Mancroft church in Norwich although choosing after the bell ringing to attend a nearby spiritualist church. Jim and his wife known as Ruth had a long attachment to the Norwich Spiritualist Church in Chapel Field North where he was a minister and president for some 38 years. He first attended the church in 1925 and from then on both he and Rose were active members for the rest of their lives. One of the previous workers with the company fondly recalls the memory of Jim as being dressed in a long trench coat almost down to his ankles with a Russian type fur hat upon his head. He seemed to have had policy of waste-not-want-not and would walk around the workshop picking up odd nuts and bolts etc off the floor, putting them in a bag then passing them on to one of his workers telling him to sort them for future use. He would also annoyingly turn off any lights in areas of the workshops where nobody was working at the time.

Jim and Ruth had just the one child James Ernest Peter Duffield 1922-1999 he was better known as Peter. He married Muriel M King 1923-2013. Peterand Muriel had three daughters Valerie, Mary and Cathryn. As his father Peter was also an engineer serving time in the Royal Engineers. He became involved in the business and at one time lived in the house next to the garage until moving to Colindeep Lane. Later he had a bungalow built near to the business at 20a Parkland Road where he was able to access the works in Clover Road via his garden. Later the house that Peter had lived in next to the garage was used as offices for the company before it was later converted back to being a private dwelling, which still stands as number 306 Constitution Hill. Jim and Ruth also lived not far away from the business residing at 215 Woodcock Road their home for most of their life together.

The Sprowston Sites Now

The Clover Road site has since been developed for private housing whilst the premises on Constitution Hill were taken over by the Five Star Door Company. They traded there for many years before going into liquidation, the property remained empty for a while before opening again as the shop and showrooms of Norwich Oak and Pine the present occupiers.