Fred Cobb’s autobiography spans service in the First World War and 50 years on the railways. A well written and fascinating insight into ‘A Norwich Life’.
Under The Griffin’s Wing: A Norwich Life (Fred Cobb)
As we grow older, memories become more vivid and people and places from the past come alive again. So when Fred discovered some old sketches of France, he began to look back on his life and write this book.
Frederick George Goodson Cobb (Fred) was born in Norwich in 1896. Apart from military service in World War One and a ten year ‘exile’ in Ipswich, he lived his entire life in Thorpe, Norwich. He retired in 1961 after a fifty year career with the railways — initially the Great Eastern Railway (GER) which merged to become part of London and North East Railway (LNER) in 1923 and finally part of British Railways after nationalisation in 1948.
One of his main hobbies was writing and between 1929 and 1937 he was a regular contributor to the London & North Eastern Railway Magazine. Following his retirement, he contributed a number of articles of local interest to the Eastern Daily Press and Eastern Evening News. “Whiffler”, a columnist in the Eastern Evening News, once described him as a writer of “no mean journalistic ability” and “a really good writer” — these words of commendation encouraged him in 1973 to write this autobiography.
He typed the original manuscript and several photocopies were taken and distributed around the family. The consensus was that the work was of sufficient quality and interest to deserve a wider audience.
Fred died in 1977 at the age of 80 and nothing further was done about the book until the autumn of 2018 when Fred’s nephew, Alan Cobb, then at the age of 92, started the lengthy process of digitising the book by reading the entire contents into his computer (initially saving the work onto 85 different files!).
Alan’s son, Chris, and Fred’s daughter, Janette and other family members then took over and carried out the fact checking, proof reading, obtaining the necessary permissions to reproduce photographs, researching printers, cover design and multitude of other tasks to arrive at the finished book.