Fonds MC 3139 - Diaries, Photographs and Personal Papers of Marion Cropley (later Marion Gibbons, subsequently Marion Gissing)

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Reference code

MC 3139


Diaries, Photographs and Personal Papers of Marion Cropley (later Marion Gibbons, subsequently Marion Gissing)


  • nd [late 18th century]-2011 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

4 boxes, 2 volumes, 1 folder

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Marion Cropley (sometimes called 'Mary') was born in Norwich on 16 March 1927, the daughter of Marion Ellen Cropley (1889-1953), née Malster, a dressmaker.
Marion's father's name is not given on her birth certificate, but it is likely that he was Wallace Buxton (1875-1926), cab driver of Norwich. Marion's mother is named as the informant on Buxton's death certificate, and she was living at his address (2 Distillery Street, Norwich); furthermore, Marion referred to Buxton's daughters, Bessie (1913-1997, who married Harry Alderton) and Joan, as her half-sisters. Marion also had a half-brother, Walter Cropley (1916-1988). He was the only son of Marion E. Cropley by her marriage to Walter Charles Cropley, who served as a corporal in the Royal Engineers during the First World War, was awarded the Croix de Guerre, but was killed in action in 1918.
Marion was educated at Willow Lane Roman Catholic School and Notre Dame School, Norwich. In 1937, she and her mother were living at 4 Ampthill Street, Norwich, but in 1939 they moved to 62 Queen's Road, Norwich. In 1940, aged 13, Marion was evacuated to Canada by the Children's Overseas Reception Board (CORB). She sailed from Glasgow on board the SS Duchess of York on 10 August, arriving in Halifax on 19 August. After a few weeks in Toronto, she was sent to stay with Mr and Mrs Frederick Excell at the town of Niagara Falls in Ontario, and remained with them for the duration of the Second World War. She attended Stamford Collegiate Vocational Institute at Niagara Falls, graduating in 1942, and continued at the college, taking a commercial course of typing, shorthand and book keeping, from which she graduated the following year. In March 1943 she began work in the office of the Dominion Chain Company, where she worked until she left Canada. She returned to Norwich in August 1945, sailing from Quebec City on the SS Pasteur. In Norwich, she found work with National Employers' Mutual.
In June 1946 she met Derek Gibbons, then serving in the Norfolk Regiment. They became engaged in September 1946 and were married on 12 June 1948. By this time Derek was employed by Norwich Union, whilst Marion had started work for Jenners in September 1947. At first the couple lived with Marion's mother at 62 Queen's Road. By 1958 they were living at 73 Surrey Street. In the same year, Marion's diary mentions leaving her job at Motor Union and starting work for the firm of Howell and Brooks.
By 1970, Marion was living at Woodcot on Spur Lane, Framingham Earl. The diaries suggest that her marriage with Derek was breaking down by this time, and in 1972, Derek moved to Cambridge to run an antiquarian bookshop. Marion remained in contact with him, however, until his death in 2007.
In July 1972, Marion met Walter Maxwell (Max) Gissing (1908-1991) a director of Samarkand Gifts Limited of Great Yarmouth. They were married at Norwich Register Office on 16 January 1991, but Max died later that year, on 3 December. Marion continued to live at Woodcot until 1999, when she purchased 41 Riverway Court in Recorder Road, Norwich, a flat in a sheltered housing complex. By early 2010, she had moved to Corton House, City Road, Norwich, a care home with a Christian ethos.
Marion died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich on 5 Feb 2013, aged 85. Her funeral took place on 5 March at Norwich Cathedral.
Throughout her life Marion had a keen interest in music, theatre and the arts. She made many friends and had a good social life. As a girl and young woman, she enjoyed dancing and frequent trips to the cinema. In her later years she regularly attended services at Norwich Cathedral, and she also carried out much work for the Adrian Bell Society, which encourages a wider interest and appreciation of the work of Adrian Bell (1901-1980), the Suffolk ruralist, journalist and farmer.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received by the Norfolk Record Office on 18 February 2012 (ACC 2012/313). List completed 17 December 2015 (JW).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Comprises diaries, 1940-1948, 1958-1959, 1970-1973, 1998-2005, 2010-2011; two photograph albums, 1940-1945; and personal papers, including souvenirs of Marion's life in Canada, as an evacuee during the Second World War.

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