John Francis Drake

20th January 1931 – 1st January 2020


John Francis Drake was born in Horley, London. He was the only child of Frank Drake and Hilda Drake (née Yallop).


They soon moved to Queens Road, Norwich where his grandmother, the formidable matriarch Alice Yallop ran a well respected news agents and tobacconist; ‘Yallops’. John once described Alice as the ringleader.


Her and the wider Yallop family were central to John’s upbringing. His grandmother’s husband, ‘Pops’ would feed him ice cream as a toddler and they would spend lots of time with his cousins, Daphne, Betty, John and Michael Yallop and Anne Field.


As soon as soon as he was old enough, around 9 years old, he became a paper boy for his grandmother. So his career in the newsagent business began.


John was given a bike and bought a dynamo light by borrowing money from his grandmother, which she took out of his wages over a few weeks.


In Summer 1940 Norwich was bombed, during the national Blitz of WW2. It was subsequently bombed in April, May and June 1942. John was 11. During one raid, his father caught him on the top of Carrow Hill, on his bike, watching the planes over the city, whilst the air raid siren rang. John was cheeky and a thrill-seeker from the start.


By the time the war ended, John, now into his early teens, joined a cadet band as a drummer, which began a life long passion for all things rhythm. One stunning photograph shows a very handsome looking John, in his early twenties, as the leader of his own quintet, eponymously titled ‘The Johnny Drake Quintet’. It takes a real character to run a band, as the drummer. Clearly, John was a very charismatic young man, taking after his Nannie Yallop and taking the mantle as a ringleader.


Photos of John through his teens show him grinning with friends and family. The photos exude a relaxed but energetic young man, full of fun and always up for a laugh. These characteristics stayed with him, throughout his life.


He continued to pursue his passions of drumming and cycling at some point he began to play golf, again, a hobby and great source of pleasure for the rest of his life. He was a long standing member of Eaton golf club as well as being a member of Norwich social group ‘Round Table’ and the News Agency Association. 


Eventually John took over his Grandmother’s shop and began to build an impressive portfolio of shops, all over Norwich. He met his first wife Phyliss and had two girls, Yvonne (born 1957) and Frances (born 1960).

This is where's I've got to at the moment - stay tuned over the next few weeks for more about John's life and more of these wonderful photographs.