Bob Jackson could remember his father having cows on the Common when he lived at Paddock Farm. 'I would be sent to fetch them at the end of the day, and often they'd be walking down the road to meet me. No problems with traffic then!'
Local farmers grazed cattle there until the amount of traffic caused problems in the 1950s. As traffic increased, grazing dwindled. Once the cattle were taken off, the common grew wild and it was no longer possible to play cricket there. There were complaints at the Annual Parish Meetings:
From Parish Council Minutes:
1953 July: No stock now feeding on the Common so thistles are growing and have become a problem. RDC should cut the thistles, but do not get it done when it is needed - would pay Parish Council to get Common cut at most appropriate time.
1956 July 5th Minutes of Annual Meeting held at the School: Mr. L. Dack asked if anything could be done to the Common which had got into a very rough state.
1957 April 18th Minutes of Annual Parish Meeting in Wingfield Hall: A complaint was brought forward in reference to the rough state the Common had got and it was suggested that something should be done to remove the small trees and bushes etc that had grown up.
In the '60s, a Commons Committee was formed to work on clearing the Common of trees and undergrowth, to create new football pitches and make the Common more 'user-friendly' for leisure pursuits.
programme for the Grand fete & Children's Sports Day, Whit Monday, June 3rd,
1968 (price sixpence), Major J G Steward, Lord of the Manor, writes:
Welcome to the
Mulbarton Sports and here's hoping you enjoy yourself and perhaps win a prize.
The Mulbarton Sports were held on the common regularly until recent years when
the ever-increasing traffic on the roads around the common made cattle and
sheep grazing without a 'pinder' impossible and consequently grazing stopped.
As a result the common became overgrown and it was not until the Parish formed
a Mulbarton Common Committee to administer and maintain the cutting of the
grass etc. that it has been possible to hope for the common being used for
recreation and sport.
It is hoped
that this afternoon's event will help the funds of the Common Fund and village
organisations besides giving all those attending the chance to enjoy
The Committee and a team of volunteers worked most Sundays of 1967-1968 and their hard work came to be much appreciated:
A letter in Eastern Daily Press, January 1968:
Crouch End, London,
31st December 1967.
Sir - A friend of mine has just sent me a cutting from the EDP about the restoration of Mulbarton common and it has given me a real joy and satisfaction as the great-granddaughter of the Rev. Richard Spurgeon who was Rector of Mulbarton from 1812 to 1842. I well remember riding over to Mulbarton with my father to see the splendid common, sheep trimmed, aided by horses, ducks, fowls and a couple of goats.
The last time I saw the common, about seven years ago, it was a desolation indeed. I cannot say how grateful I am to the parishioners and those who have helped them to restore this, one of the few commons existing, relics of a more peaceful age, when that juggernaut, the motor car, was undreamed of! By the way, I hope in clearing up they will not level out Billy Grimes' and Sally Grimes' "Holes"; their legend
is nearly as old as the common itself.
As an old lady of 96, I cannot hope to see Mulbarton common again, but I am glad to think that I can imagine it as it was in my childhood days, trimmed and enjoyed by its rightful possessors, the animals and the fowls.
Yours etc., ELLA COLLIER (Mrs.)