Woman tells tale of grandfather who thwarted Beccles bank robbers in 1921 as part of exhibition
PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:43 04 April 2017
A legendary story of a high profile bank robbery in Beccles is being told for the first time.
Artefacts and memorabilia of the 1921 event have been put together by the granddaughter of the heroic policeman, who thwarted two 18 year old robbers, despite being shot.
Beccles and District Museum has recently launched the exhibition, with its official opening turning out to be one of the most successful at the venue to date.
Jennifer Langeskov, put together the exhibition which includes national and regional news cuttings, police uniform from the time, batons, medals and pictures among the findings.
“It’s such a fascinating tale,” Mrs Langeskov said.
“I really didn’t quite know the significance behind the event until I started collating everything together back in October.
“After I put out an appeal. we made some great findings. One of my favourite is that made by a local man called Jim Took, whose mother, called Winnie, wrote a story at the age of 13 just months after the robbery, where she portrayed one of the robbers.
“There were some other great discoveries like meeting Eric Hopes who had been in the police force and we discovered that his grandfather, Stanley, was one of the bearers at my grandfathers’ funeral.”
The tale of the Beccles bank robbery took place on February 1, 1921.
The robbers, Arthur Parsley and Frank Jervis, entered Lloyds Bank on Exchange Square just after 1.20pm and held up the cashier and junior clerk at gunpoint before taking £150.
Inspector Charles Norman received a telephone call from the cashier twenty minutes later.
At 2.30pm, he heard reports that the robbers were seen near Worlingham Lodge heading for Lowestoft.
He enlisted the support of special constable Humphrey Durrant and his motorcycle and sidecar, and he gave chase.
Eventually they found them near Barnby Church, and the teenagers opened fire.
Between six or seven shots were recorded with Inspector Norman wounded in the knee but said he had felt shots “whizzing past his ears”.
After instructing Mr Durrant to find a firearm, he corned the pair after finding them near Mutford Church.
He threatened them to surrender or he would shoot, and the pair threw down their revolvers.
They were taken to Beccles Police Station just two and a half hours after the robbery.
Both Inspectors Norman and Durrant received the King’s Police Medal for Meritorious Conduct and were awarded £5 each for their efforts.
Mrs Langeskov went to Beccles and District Museum back in October with the idea of the story being told.
She said: “I wasn’t really expecting too much when I went to see Robert Bacon, the museum’s curator.
“But he informed me they had a free exhibition space for 2017 and that this would be a great story to tell.
“I went far and wide to find as much as I could, including a silver teapot which was handed to my grandfather after the robbery but was up in Bradford.
“I had such great support in putting this exhibition together from local people.
“Suffolk Police Museum provided us with uniform and equipment from the day which was fantastic and I would also like to thank everybody else who contributed.
“It is great to see the attention my grandfather’s tale has received so far.”
The event was sponsored by Durrants Estate Agents who also made a donation towards the museum.
Mr Bacon, the museums curator, said the launch event was one of the most successful to date, with around 70 people turning out for its celebratory opening. Among those in attendance included the mayor of Beccles, Graham Catchpole, as well as the family of Humphrey Durrant and officers from Lowestoft Police Station.
The story of Mr Norman, was unveiled to the public on April 1.
It is the museum first exhibition of the season and it will run until May 21.
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