TL Photos0003One of the country’s most successful beef cattle breeders and respected Norfolk bankers, Ivan Crane, has died aged 87.

A life vice-president of Aylsham Agricultural Show Association, he was invited to serve as the president in 1982 but always a modest man, declined the honour.

He had one of the smallest herds of British Simmental cattle but took honours at the Royal Show, then the country’s premier beef showcase, as well as successive titles at the Royal Norfolk Show, Suffolk Show – and of course, on his own doorstep at Blickling. One of his bulls, the home-bred Hevingham Alpha, became an international sensation with a growth rate twice the breed average – his semen sold around the world.

The only son of a joiner, Ivan George Bert Crane, was born on June 3, 1927 at Northacre, Caston, near Watton. He went to school, having won a special place to go to Hamond’s Grammar School, Swaffham – the only boy from Caston to do so. He would leave home at 7.25am to catch the 7.50am two-carriage steam train from Stow Bedon, calling at Watton and Holme Hall before walking 1.5 miles in a crocodile of pupils to school.

During the war, he served with his local Home Guard detachment, starting aged 14. He joined the staff at the Watton branch of Barclays Bank at the age of 15 – oaid seven and sixpence a week (37.5p) having been interviewed by the bank’s senior director, Quinton Gurney at the Norwich office. One of his tasks as a junior was to pick up high-value parcels from the town’s Post Office and with thousands of USA servicemen to be paid weekly, sometimes he would walk back to the bank carrying £20,000 (now worth £840,000) in cash.

TL Photos0002He also became the founder chairman of Watton Young Farmers’ Club, while continuing to help with the local Scouts and his local church as vicar’s server and bellringer.

In his privately published autobiography, Schoolboy, Soldier, Banker, Farmer, he chronicles the remarkable changes in his native Norfolk over the following decades. When he was six years old, his parents were able to move into a house with its own water pump, bath and indoor toilet – but all the water had to be carried by pail.

Later, he joined the Army in 1945 – serving for a total of seven years. In 1952, he re-joined Barclays and with wife, Doreen, and two young daughters, started work at London Road North, Lowestoft. On January 31, 1953, the bank was also flooded as the east coast was devastated and several hundred people were killed. Then in 1955, he was promoted to first cashier at Stalham, then four years moving to Watton and then finally Attleborough.

Aged 39, he became one of the bank’s youngest managers when promoted again to Reepham in December 1966. Six years later, he moved to Aylsham. In 1977 he became the bank’s first district agricultural development manager covering 41 local branches of the local head office. The support of his assistant managers including David Hitcham was vital at this time.

In 1978, he had the good fortune to buy August Farm, Hevingham, and then later another 3.5 acres of adjoining land. Later, he ran a successful onion pick-your-own as well as taking rosettes at the Norwich Christmas Show and also at Aylsham in 1982. Having taken early retirement from the bank by the next year, the pedigree Simmental herd had been established with a 2000 guinea purchase at the Royal Show and some other shrewd buys. At the 1983 Royal Norfolk Show, he won his female reserve supreme championship and went on to take supreme honours at the 1991 Royal Show. His home-bred bull, Alpha, weighing 816kg was 35pc or 216kg above the breed average at 400 days. His mother, Hevingham Rosella, was the daughter of another 1,000 guinea foundation purchase. And the bull’s semen was later exported around the world. Later, the breeding herd, which had been just 18 pedigree animals including eight breeding females, was reduced in 1996.

His wife of 56 years, Doreen, died in 2004, and he leaves two daughters, Linda and Diane, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,

A funeral service was held at Hevingham Church on February 18.

John Wootten President of Aylsham Show 2017
Aylsham Show President I am very pleased and honoured to be President of the Aylsham Show in 2017. We moved to Aylsham in 1978, but as a ship’s captain, my job took me abroad for several years. In 1982 my wife’s uncle, John Thornton, then local director of Barclays Bank was President of the Show and he persuaded me to get involved. When illness forced me to retire from the sea, I became Assistant Showground Director to Tom Elwes for several years until 1992. After some years building up Eastern Events, in 2010 I took over as Show Director from Jamie Jamieson. My grandfather farmed at Horsham St Faith and I like to think that he may have visited the show in its formative years. My wife Charlotte certainly competed at the Show in the 1960’s, majoring on the gymkhana. Up until the end of last year I was a director of Revival Productions who have staged very successful concerts in Blickling Park for the past 5 years. All of us who work for the Show have special moments. As Show Director I was always on site by 5 am – a magical time with the mist rising and everything just stirring. The stockmen are washing down their cattle, and sheep are calling to one another. But soon it is all go and you look at your watch and discover it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon before you know it. One of the things I will really enjoy as President is actually being able to see the Show and to meet and thank all the people who make it such a success. The Show is a fantastic organisation where people give their time and energy to raise money for local charities and I am very proud to be a part of it and to be President in 2017.
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