The postcard collector who preserved Norfolk history

Black and white picture of the Market Place in Wymondham

One of the postcards from the collection of Philip Standley from Wymondham. The Market Place in Wymondham. - Credit: Philip Standley Collection

He died 15 years ago but his memory lives on in the collection of wonderful books he left for us to enjoy. His name was Philip Standley… the postcard man of Wymondham.

It was during the summer of 1988 when Philip first came to see me with a copy of 'Norwich Volume 1. A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards.' He asked if I thought people would like it… they loved it.

Philip Standley from Wymondham sits at a table covered with his postcard collection

Philip Standley from Wymondham, who collected postcards. - Credit: Archant Library / Keiron Tovell

It sold like hotcakes and resulted in several more postcard books including a couple of 'Then and Now' books, teaming up with photographer Terry Burchell, to compare how things have changed.

A family walk towards the old pergola in Chapelfield Gardens

NORWICH THEN AND NOW, A NEW BOOK BY PHILIP STANDLEY AND PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY BURCHELL. CHAPELFIELD GARDENS CIRCA 1910. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

And following his death in 2006 Philip’s daughter Sarah produced 'In and Around Wymondham Then and Now' with photographer Mark Dagless.

“He had decided to do a Then and Now book on his home town and I agreed to help him as he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. Sadly dad died but I continued to write the book in his memory using many of his postcards and photographs,” said Sarah.

The 1913 Norwich City Football Team line up in front of a goal

Norwich City Football Team (season 1913-14?). - Credit: Philip Standley Collection


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“I hope I have made dad proud and I dearly wish he was here to see it,” she added.

He would have been very proud.

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Philip loved his home town of Wymondham, Norwich and the rest of Norfolk so much… some of you will remember him from his wonderful hardware and TV shop, The Little Dustpan.

A tram runs along St Stephen's Street in Norwich

NORWICH THEN AND NOW, A NEW BOOK BY PHILIP STANDLEY AND PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY BURCHELL. ST. STEPHEN'S STREET, CIRCA 1906. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

Small groups of people stand outside a grand building.

NORWICH THEN AND NOW, A NEW BOOK BY PHILIP STANDLEY AND PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY BURCHELL. THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE THEN. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

When it closed he turned his attention to finding out more about his rare collection of postcards and sharing them with others.

Philip had been a founding member of the Norfolk Postcard Club. He would show you a card and his face would light up as he told you the story behind it and the added bonus was a stamp, postmark or message on the other side.

A helter-skelter is pictured with visitors to the fair in the foreground

A picture of the old fun fair with the Agricultural Hall, Norwich in the background. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

The first pictures on postcards in this country were published in 1894 and were known as Court Cards.

They were the way people sent messages to each other and highlight where they lived and what was going on. Millions were posted every year. Savvy photographers would capture local events, disasters – such as the 1912 city floods – and they would be turned into postcards within days.

Skaters line up at the Roller-Skating Rink at the Agricultural Hall in around 1905

A rare postcard of the Roller-Skating Rink at the Agricultural Hall in around 1905 from the Philip Standley collection. It cost 6d to get in and another 6d for the use of the skates. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

A horse and cart wait outside a house in Cowgate Street, Norwich

PICTURE TAKEN FROM PHILIP STANDLEY AND TERRY BURCHELLS' BOOK, 'NORWICH THEN AND NOW'. PICTURE SHOWS COWGATE STEET, NORWICH, IN 1907. - Credit: Philip Standley collection

In the introduction to his first book Philip wrote: “Norwich, like most cities, has changed greatly over the last hundred years and is, of course, still changing.

“One of the best ways to illustrate this transformation is to take a ‘snap shot’ of life in the city at the turn of the century, as preserved on picture postcards that were so popular at the time,” he said.

Look out for the books by Philip and the one by Sarah in the shops, such as City Books or Jarrold in Norwich, or online.

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