Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 5614 Bedfords Review | Issue Three Above: Marketing board from 1976 and our first advert in Lynn News, 1966 Previous page: David and his wife Sadie as a bachelor and I’ve loved it as a married man.” Over the past few years, David has collected memories like these, trawling his carefully- kept records, photographs and diaries to write a colourful, candid autobiography. Bricks and Mortals – it’s out now – charts his childhood, remembering Spartan schooldays as a boarder at Bedford Modern when authoritarian prefects were liberal with the slipper. He left school at 17 with a handful of O Levels, and rather fell into estate agency. “By then my family had moved to Norfolk because of my stepfather’s work. I visited the Youth Employment Office in King's Lynn to find a job. I remember the lady there, Betty Tompsett, thumbed through her box file of cards – no computers of course – and the first she picked was for a firm of auctioneers and estate agents, Miles Son & Landles. I didn’t know what I wanted to do – though I knew after a winter pulling Brussels sprouts by hand that farming wasn’t for me – and I said it sounded fine. I was paid £4 a week as a junior. The rest, as they say, is history.” Bricks and Mortals is a compelling memoir, packed with anecdotes and ‘people’ stories that chart the building of the family firm that dominates the region’s property sector today. It records David’s early days in Bury when he and Peter, young, energetic and full of ideas, stirred up the business of buying and selling homes. “I think I can say that we developed estate agency as we know it today. We simplified boards so they just read ‘For Sale’ with the company name and telephone number – and could be read from a passing car. It sounds obvious, but boards used to be packed with information that was impossible to read. We started putting pictures with advertisements too – again, that was new. I think the established firms thought we were a right pair of upstarts!” Having set up his own firm, Bedfords Estate Agents, David recalls the three-day week in 1974 when secretaries would type by candlelight; the ‘empire years’ when he employed 70 people in 14 offices throughout Norfolk and Suffolk; and the dismantling of that partnership to create the smaller, more focused agency it is today. “That was probably the most terrifying moment of my career,” he says. “Our three boys were all at boarding school, we lived in a grand house, I drove a BMW… and I turned off the money tap because I wasn’t happy.” The recession of 2008 was another shocker: “It was like the lights going out. There was no dimmer switch as there had been in previous recessions. We radically cut costs – did we really need a water cooler? – and then in 2009 we had our best year ever.” It has all turned out OK. “We’re 50 years old this year,” David says, justifiably proud. “I very much take a back seat these days, sometimes put my oar in and sometimes it’s welcome, sometimes not. I do more listening than talking: age teaches you that. But I still love property and am very glad the business is still a family-run, people-centred, one. Sons Paul, James and Michael are partners in the firm alongside Emmerson Dutton, Ben Marchbank and fellow consultant, Andrew Wagstaff. However quickly things change in business over the next 50 years, the importance of people, and looking after people, will never change. I am proud that that remains the Bedfords’ ethos.” A longerversion of this article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk Magazine. Above: David Bedford in 1956 Celebrating 50 years David's book Bricks and Mortals is now available from local bookshops and our offices. For postal orders contact Hilary Lynn on 01284 774 603 or hilarylynn@bedfords.co.uk