1900 - 1980

Norman Smedley

Norman Smedley was born at New Road, Hedon, Yorkshire on 11 January 1900, youngest child of Thomas Smedley (1837-8 January 1905), a draper, and his wife Tannie née Buffey (19 November 1855-27 June 1941), who married at St Mark, Cleveland Street, Hull on 26 December 1887. In 1901, Norman was a 1-year-old, living at New Road, Hedon with his parents, 64-year-old Thomas and 45-year-old Tannie and his six elder siblings, Emma May 11, Olive 10, Hilda 8, Thomas 6, Rupert George 5, and Norah Helena 3, all born at Hull. Norman's father died at Hull on 8 January 1905, aged 67 and in 1911, Norman was living at Melrose Crescent, Patrington, Yorkshire, where his 55-year-old mother was a draper, together with five of his six siblings. At the age of 16, Norman joined the Durham Light Infantry and during the First World War saw active service in France. After taking a degree in biology at Queens’ College, Cambridge, Norman joined the staff at the Raffle’s Museum in Singapore and in 1928 represented the Straits Settlements at the Fourth Pacific Conference in Java. He married at Singapore Cathedral on 30 January 1928, Beryl Edna Emms (6 January 1905-9 August 1985), a schoolteacher, third daughter of Ernest Emms of Syleham, Suffolk, and they had two children, Diana (born 2 November 1929) and Derek (born 1 June 1937). In 1933, ill health forced his retirement from the Colonial Service, and he spent the following decade at Doncaster Museum and in 1939, was curator & art gallery manager, living at 1 The Grove, Doncaster with his wife Beryl Edna and their two children. During the Second World War, Norman was with the Ministry of Information and in 1952 he moved to Suffolk, taking charge of Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion, conducting many excavations over the county, publishing his articles in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. A member of the Ipswich Art Club 1953-1974 but does not seem to have exhibited but did paint. He formed a diverse collection of old farming implements which were eventually housed at the Museum of Rural Life at Stowmarket, Suffolk where he was director. In 1974 he retired from the Museum and published two books 'Life and Tradition in Suffolk and North-East Essex' (1976) and 'East Anglian Crafts' (1977). He lived at 19 Neale Street, Ipswich and died at Southwold, Suffolk on 4 April 1980, aged 80. Illustration courtesy of Derek Smedley.