The Norfolk market town that used to be in Suffolk

Diss High Street

Busy Mere Street on a Friday market day when the town was packed with shoppers and farmers. The King’s Head was still serving pints and we considered the chips on the stall opposite the Dolphin as the best in the world. - Credit: Archant Library

Diss has been in the spotlight in recent days, caught in the swell of coronavirus coverage. But as locals know there's much more to their town than fleeting national headlines.

An aerial view of Diss Carnival in 1963. A "Ban the Bomb" banner can be seen in the distance.

The carnival was always a big day in Diss when the whole town came together for a day of fun and games but it was also an opportunity to get a serious message across. Notice the Ban the Bomb banner back in 1963? - Credit: Archant Library

Let’s turn the clock back and remember the good times in Diss - there are plenty of them.

We hope these photographs from our archives bring back some happy memories of life in the 1950s and 1960s in what was described by the 20th century Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as: “The perfect English market town.”

A view over Diss town centre in August 1958.

Looking down over Diss from the top of the Corn Hall which has been given a new lease of life in recent times. That’s Aldiss & Hastings on the corner and can you spot Newbold’s the drapers on the right? - Credit: Archant

As we all know Diss is in Norfolk but there was a time when it was part of Suffolk.

That was during the 11th century reign of Edward the Confessor but over the years times changed and Diss sits proudly on the borders of our beautiful counties.


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It’s origins lie in its famous mere covering six acres and one of the deepest natural lakes in the country.

Mere Street in Diss in June 1960, looking back towards St Nicholas' Church.

If you were a lad or a lass growing up in Diss during the 1960s then Woollies was THE place to hang about outside. Remember the International Stores on the other side of the road? - Credit: Archant

The town grew up around it and flourished. By the time William the Conqueror was in charge it was one of his domains and worth £30 a year to him – a handy sum in those days.

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While so many other towns suffered terrible fires followed by civic vandalism, Diss has been more fortunate and as a result has some fine and beautiful buildings.

A group of men stand talking on a corner outside Diss Corn Hall.

Putting the world to rights outside Diss Corn Hall on Market Day when the farmers took over the town. They then may have found the time for a pint at the Greyhound next door. - Credit: Archant Library

The 16th century Dolphin, once such a popular pub and across the road from the St Mary’s Church which itself was founded in 1290. There's the Saracen’s Head and so many more wonderful buildings.

The medieval market place was Cock-Street Green (now Fair Green), away from the town centre, and the fairs may date back as far as 1185. In more recent times Friday’s were the highlight of the week. This was market day and Diss was packed. The farmers had arrived.

Diss still retains great charm and a community spirit.

A group of children with their teacher look at a model village.

Do you recognise anyone in this lovely photograph taken at Diss Church School at the bottom of The Entry many moons ago. Remember when Henry Denny was the headmaster? - Credit: Archant Library

I was born in 1948 and grew up in Diss. I was a lucky boy. I had my bike. I had my freedom. I had my friends. I had my fun.

Not a care in the world. Crazy Saturday mornings at the Picture House where Mr Jones did his best to make sure we were on our best behaviour and long days at the swimming pool in the summer.

Children play in the outdoor swimming pool in Diss.

A second summer home for generations of boys and girls who learnt to swim and went on to spend many long hours larking about at Diss Swimming Pool off Victoria Road. What a wonderful place. - Credit: Archant Library

Shopping for my mum at Bales, Strudwicks, Larter and Ford, Easto’s and that little shop in Chapel Street full of sweets.

Clothes from Bobby’s (I knew Jimmy) and Hopgoods (I went to school with Richard), shoes from Ives (Charles was a friend), bread and cakes from Wren’s and Denny’s (Peter and Charles were good mates) and, if you were very lucky, a visit up the steps to Nunn’s toy shop where I got my first cowboy outfit.

Happy days in dear Diss - they will return.

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