Old Fungi and his pit

Up until the 1960’s when Mile Cross began to grow in a north-westerly direction, this area; now a play park well-known amongst the Mile Cross kids (and former kids) for its really, really, really long slide (it seemed huge as a child) – was known locally as ‘Fungi’s pit’.MXfungi

As far as I can work out ‘Old Fungi’ was a Pig Farmer of sorts named ‘Mr Prentice’ who owned most of a long and thin strip of land running along this side of Boundary Road. I’ve heard all sorts of interesting stories about this mystery fellow (not all of them nice) from some of the older locals I’ve spoken to over the years – but – unfortunately I can’t find anything written down about him that can help me back any of it up. If anybody can recall this mystery fellow and help me to fill in some of the gaps (more pit-like than gaps – see what I did there? Taxi!), I’d love to hear from you. My email address can be found in the contacts section.

What isn’t in doubt is the fact that this area was a small farm and this part was a pit. A bit of map work shows that this area began its life as a sand, chalk, brick or gravel pit and can be traced back as far back as the late 1800’s. Quite a few of these pits can be found dotted around this part of Hellesdon all consumed as Norwich started to bulge over it’s own waistline and into the surrounding fields. In time the pit slowly evolved from a just a pit with a puddle into an increasingly-growing pond, up until the 1960’s when it was filled in to build this park and (if my memory serves me right) a cinder BMX track. The rest of the pig farm was taken over by those odd-looking, flat-roofed houses that started to appear all over the Norwich estates during the 1960’s. One can only assume that old Fungi got bored of chasing the local kids off his land and either sold up or shuffled off this mortal coil.

The pit can still be made out in the topography of the park, the deepest part of which would have been where the sandy play area now sits to the right of center of my photo.

Thanks for reading,

Stu

26 thoughts on “Old Fungi and his pit

  1. there never was a cycle speedway track on site of Fungi’s pit . Cycle speedway track was in the area where the towers now stand..I helped to buid it.

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      1. Hi Mile Cross Man, really enjoy your articles and please keep them coming. As for Fungi’s Farm, some of it was taken over during the last war to facilitate a fire station which in turn was used by Thelson’s oil company after the duration.

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      2. Yes, it was located at the end of the last pre-war council house on Boundary Road as you travel up the hill to Asda. Hope this helps.
        Ray

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  2. I can remember Fungi with a white horse and cart. One day on Aylsham Road near. Bird’s bakery, the horse took to running wild. He was finally able to get it under control. Scared the life out of me. I was under age 12 I’m sure.

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    1. Old Fungi and his pit eh, one of my old childhood playgrounds back in the late 40’s early 50’s. Still have painful memories of falling out of an elderberry tree which bordered the pit and landing in a nettle bed. Shameful I know but we used to nick his rhubarb sticks and eat them at the back of the Boundary Road greyhound stadium car park-another favourite playground-which was the other side of Boundary Road opposite Fungi’s pit.

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      1. Reference keeps being made about “Old Fungi”, I haven’t seen his surname quoted which was ‘Prentice’.

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  3. Can’t remember any garages there Stew. I left Mile Cross in 1958 to join the RAF and at that time very few people in the area could afford a car.

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    1. I’m sure you’re right Dennis but I can’t recall it. If you mean the McDonalds on Boundary Road all I can remember is a field between the Whiffler and the old greyhound stadium. Used to play football on that field on many a Saturday morning.

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      1. Hello Ray – I’m talking about 1940’s – 1950’s. His name was John Crisp and I worked with his wife from 1943-1945. I’m sure the Garage was on part of that field.

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  4. Hi Dennis. I was born on Boundary Road in 1937 and did not leave until I joined the RAF back in 1958 so I knew the area well. Memory fades I know but still can’t recall a garage there.

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    1. I was born in Civic Gardens in 1929.
      I am sure if you check with others – they will confirm Coronation Garage was there, probably adopted its name from Coronation Road. I can still visualise the Garage quite well.

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      1. I’ve done a search on Google and the following is the only reference I could find.

        Legal mortgage

        Created
        15 April 1980
        Delivered
        21 April 1980
        Status
        Satisfied on 20 August 1987
        Transaction Filed
        Registration of a charge
        Image unavailable
        Persons entitled
        National Westminster Bank PLC
        Amount secured
        All monies due or to become due from the company to the chargee on any account whatsoever

        Short particulars
        Coronation garage, boundary road, hellesden, norwich, norfolk. Floating charge over all moveable plant machinery implements utensils furniture and equipment.

        I got the owners name wrong, should have been – John Cribb husband of Ruth Cribb.

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  5. Reference “Fungi” Prentice. I may be entirely wrong but I’ve got a gut feeling he lived on Philadelphia Lane (now Penn Grove). He could often be seen travelling along Aylsham Road heading north to his pit/premises on Boundary Road.
    I actually worked part-time for him down the pit on my hands and knees with sack cloth around my knees weeding rows of carrots for a pitiful financial reward. I would have been about 12 or 13. He was a hard task master.

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  6. I lived at 25 Appleyard Crescent from about 1947 to mid 70s. Amongst my playmates were Kenny Prentice (my age now 76) and John Snape, who was a bit younger. They were Fungi’s Grandsons and lived with him and Johns Mother, Fungi’s Daughter, further along the Crescent, Just before Eustace Road, where the entrance to Fungi’s farm was. John shared a desk with me for the first two years at Norman Senior School, before then they attended the Langley School. With my brother Roy, we had great times playing all over the Galley Hills, on the farm, and in the pit. We were also allowed to have a camp fire near the pig sties. The famous white Horse was called Prince and he often returned to the farm pulling the cart without Fungi on board, Suddenly around 1958, the boys and Johns mother, moved to Australia. After then they started to build on the farm and Galley Hills.

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  7. The opening page of the 1946 Air survey of Norfolk shows a Magnificent picture of Appleyard Crescent and Fungi’s Farm and Pit, His strip crops are clearly shown and the sites of the cycle track and V2 landing (boundary woods) Whiffler pub and northern tip of The Galley hills. The farm entrance was Eustace Road and the track went south of the strip crops to the sheds, then out again opposite the Whiffler.

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  8. Yes, it is very easy to get on the 1946 Norfolk Arial Survey Page, But you used to be able to brouse the site, almost the whole of Norfolk, There is no need to, because the picture on that page, says it all. I would be happy to discus what I have said if you wish to phone or PM me on Face Book, I did try to detail more for you but as I am not very proficent with typing it kept cutting off as I pressed the wrong buttons. Fungi’s hey days were before my time as many older people used to talk about him. Rodney Matless

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