Holding Back the Tide – The Conclusion and Thanks

Exhibition dates and venues for Holding Back the Tide

The Holding Back the Tide project has now come to an end, culminating in a 2009 tour of our exhibition. CoastNet would like to express a huge thank you to everyone who took part in Holding Back the Tide and for the interest shown in our project.

The output of our work has been collated together in the form of a DVD for the oral history stories, display panels and a short film of the collated school projects (also on the DVD). All the DVD clips are available on www.youtube.com and search for CoastNet.   All in all there were eight schools in the region who participated and their output was diverse and included a musical production, archaeology field trip, painting and photography. The quality of work was outstanding and a pleasure to see .  For the oral history section of the project there was approximately twenty three interviews conducted across the region.

A special thanks to all individuals who provided stories, information, photographs and artifacts from the past – we much appreciated their enthusiasm and support.  We collected a huge amount of useful and important information.  This will be held in an archive in the new CoastNet website which will be launched at the end of February.

We have already exhibited our DVD and display at Aldeburgh Church in January and the Coastal Futures conference in London. coastal-futures-conference

Feedback has been very positive from the public and we hope you’ll be able to visit our exhibition at some point in the region near you.

Venues & Dates:

  • St Lawrence Primary School, Rowhedge, Essex, 26th January – 13th February 2009
  • Orford Craft Shop, Orford, Suffolk, 2nd March – 13th March 2009
  • Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 6th April – 28th June 2009
  • Mersea Island Museum, Mersea Island, Essex, 1st July – 31st July 2009
  • Hollytrees Museum, Colchester, 5th October – 31st December 2009

As more venues and dates are confirmed they will be mailed out.

We hope you enjoyed being part of the project, we certainly enjoyed meeting with you. We are hoping to continue this work in the future and we will keep you informed.

Thank you again.

Sound clips available with our stories

A new feature has been added to our oral history stories in the form of sound clips.  Some of the stories have audio clips embedded into the paragraphs.  Keep an eye out for these.  If you want to hear Charles Manning talk about his childhood memories at Manning’s Amusement Park in Felixstowe then log onto his tale and click on the hyperlinks embedded in his words.  Likewise for Doreen Savage, Stuart Bacon and the Aldeburgh Cod Bangers.

Update: Message in a Bamboo ‘Bottle’ – First Bottle Returned!

Message in a Bottle 'From Yarmouth With Love'

Message in a Bottle 'From Yarmouth With Love'

You may remember

in December a group of Great Yarmouth students launched their art work into the sea off Yarmouth coast inside bamboo bottles as part of an experiment to see where they’d land up. The students launched the project with Time & Tide Museum in conjunction with the Holding Back the Tide project. The first bottle has been picked up by the Shipwreck Museum in Holland.

The first tubes were found on Christmas Day on an island off the coast of Holland and are now on display in the ship wreck museum there. We all think this is very exciting news!

A Lion Escapes on Felixstowe’s Seafront!

Mannings Amusement Park in Felixstowe has been owned and managed by the Mannings family since 1946 when the father of Charlie Mannings took over the park after it was offered to him by Mr Butlin.  Charlie was just one year old when his family moved to Felixstowe to begin their life there.  Here he shares his memories of the park with Holding Back the Tide. 

Charlie ManningsMy dad was a travelling showman.  And he met my mum in London and he met Mr Butlins during the war doing the stay at home holidays.  And when the war ended Mr Butlin offered him this park because he had it under management prior to the war.  And he wanted it rented out, was easier for him.  And so we came here in 1946 I was a year old.  And this is where I’ve been ever since.

There used to be the boating lake down the bottom half of the park with the monkey island in the middle, with real monkeys on it.  Oh yes, real monkeys.  And the bottom end which then became the dodgem track that was a zoo.  And I always liked the tale, whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but before the war if it was quiet they used to have an old lion, harmless old thing, a bit like Clarence the lion,  well he was like a friendly old lion.  And they used to sometimes get him out of his cage and walk him up the front.  Then phone the papers and say, ” ‘The lion’s escaped!”  Get a bit of publicity from that,’Dangerous Lion Escaped from Zoo is Recaptured by Brave Keepers’.  It wasn’t quite like that but you got a bit of publicity.  … It’s a nice story regardless.    Listen to story: Lion Escape

Dodgems FelixstoweFelixstowe then wasn’t that much different to now, apart from the docks.  The docks are the biggest difference.  I remember we used to have donkey rides in Micklegate road out there one time.  And they used to be kept down in a field down Walton Avenue, which is like an unmade up road with a row of trees all over it.  And the field where they stayed is probably now where Routemaster is. Listen to story: Donkeys in the meadow

Suffolk’s Marine Archaeologist Reflects on East Anglian Coast

Stuart Bacon, a keen marine archaeologist and Director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies, was interviewed by one of the Holding Back the Tide volunteers. He reflects on his coastal memories and observations about coastal erosion in the region.   Listen to clip: Debris-of-Slaughden

“I study erosion along the coast. I deal with the whole coast, forty six point eight miles. Of that forty six point eight miles, eighteen miles is suffering from coastal erosion. The rest is either stable as at Sizewell, Thorpeness, Kessing or it’s secreting, in other words it’s building up. Here at Orford Ness you’ve got a build up of material to the south of the light house, to the north of the light house, you’ve got an eroding beach. So when it comes to it there’s only certain areas that are suffering from coastal erosion.

And the sea tends to even up places, at the moment it’s having a go at Bawdsey. If you look at an ordinance survey map of the coastline you will see a relatively smooth coastline. The reason for that is we have a prevailing south westerly wind which gives us that sort of coastline. If we go back to the fifteenth, sixteenth century when we had a prevailing easterly we get a [different] coastline and the Ness sticking out at an absolute point. So you don’t have the erosion we’re experiencing at the moment.

I’ve dived off Slaughden quite a bit and it’s a very strange area. You have this underwater tidal stream that takes you out to sea at Slaughden. I’ve been off the Martello tower. There’s a big iron gun out there that was part of the armament for the Martello tower and that’s on the sea bed. One of the main things about Slaughden is I’ve always been interested because it’s a lost village. It was very active, pub there, brick built houses, warehouses, ship building, a big complex.

So I’ve gone under there quite a bit and sometimes you go underneath and once more you don’t’ see anything it’s nearly always black. But you can feel sand, occasionally debris, you can go down on another occasion and you find a bottom like glass. And what it is, is polished London clay polished by the friction in the sand and it’s remarkable ‘cos you think you’re on a huge sheet of plastic. It’s London clay where it’s exposed. And in the clay there are holes, some as big as this room virtually and a diver quite long with his fins can float down into these holes and go down about a metre and at the bottom are the debris of Slaughden, brick, wood, all sorts of things.”

‘The Codbangers’ by Aldeburgh Primary School

Wednesday afternoon, 3rd December, sitting with anticipation in the Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh to watch the debut performance of Aldeburgh Primary School’s ‘The Codbangers’ wondering what it would entail? Well, the pupils and their teachers excelled themselves.

The audience was treated to a dozen songs and no less than eight dramatised scenes which included a mixture of sea shanties, all local to East Anglia, and familiar nativity carols. The children yo-heave-ho’d to the Candlelight Fisherman, Faithful Sailor Boy, Windy Old Weather and Codbanging. They performed their own shanty band and the youngest members of the school did their own interpretation of Under the Sea with colourful fishes and octopus which they’d coloured in and decorated for the show.

The theme of the production was the codbanger fishermen of Slaughden, the washed away village next to Aldeburgh. Elements of Slaughden history were interwoven into the production and included the Mariners Inn which was finally washed away by 1920. The fishermen would embark on trips from Slaughden to Iceland where the best cod were caught then return to Harwich harbour where they would sell them after banging them on the head with special sticks,

And now we draw near Harwich pier

The young and old they both draw near

To see us get our fish on deck

And crack their skulls with a little short stick

Rehearsing sea songs with Jimi Lawrence:

The Last Child of Slaughden Interview

Holding Back the Tide has received some interesting interviews from the coastal residents of East Anglia over the last few months. The Aldeburgh District Local History Society conducted an interview with the last child born in Slaughden, Ron Ashford, who is now the grand old age of eighty six years old. The seaside village of Slaughden, once a shipbuilding port in its own right in the 1500s, resided next to the once smaller town of Aldeburgh before it was swept away by the ravages of the North Sea by the 1950s. Ron shares his memories:

“I was born in Slaughden on the north end of Slaughden village, the last house in Slaughden. And it was called The Hazard. Originally it was Clark’s farm house but when the sea took away the farm, which was some thirty acre farm, it left the farm house there and when my mother and father got married that’s the first house they lived in and it was called The Hazard.

I was born there in 1922 and I lived there for four years, I was aged four and then a storm in 1926 washed us out. It was a very severe storm that night and I was carried out on the shoulders of one of the men that worked down on the quay and his name was George Ward. My sister, Phyllis, was taken out by another man, that worked on the river and we were taken into the town, into Aldeburgh.

My family had been washed out four times previously but on the night of 1926 the storm was so severe, I’ve got a picture of shingle nearly up to the second floor and my mother and I standing outside the gate and shingle all around us. After that we had to move into Aldeburgh. We had to leave the house because it was so badly damaged.

My grandfather, George Winter, told me he used to meet once a month at the Mariners Inn, there was a room set aside for this meeting so they could collect the tythes from the rents of the properties in Slaughden and the tythes from the ships that unloaded loads at the quay and there was a substantial amount of money. My grandfther was one of four men that used to collect these tythes and what I recollect is that the tythes were paid to the Wentworth estate and it would be one of the Wentworth family that owned the estate and would receive the money that was involved.

My father was a boat builder down on the Slaughden quay. He had two of the biggest sheds down there full of all the tools and the lathes and equipment. In 1953 the sea came over and took the lot. All the sheds, all the boats. When the men that worked on the quay looked over the end of the Brudenell on the sea wall and there wasn’t a stick standing, there was nothing. Everything had been swept over into the river. And my father lost his business then and he never opened anymore ‘cos he was getting to an age where he didn’t think he would start again. It was too late so I just gave him a job, keep him occupied repairing clocks.”

Memories of the ‘Fish ‘n’ Chip’ Felixstowe

Doreen Savage, the Councillor for Suffolk Coastal District Council & Felixstowe Town Council, has been sharing her lifetime of memories towards the Holding Back the Tide project in an oral history interview with one of the volunteers. Doreen was born in Felixstowe and her love and support of the town is clearly evident in the stories she has of her childhood and current life in Felixstowe:

“In my house where I was born, which was in Manor Terrace, which is at the far end of Felixstowe, it used to be known as the fish and chip end of the town and very much a part of Felixstowe that centred around holiday accommodation and my mother in fact ran a boarding house. Boarding house and guests at Manor Terrace

And so my early memories are of people coming to Felixstowe on holiday as they used to in those days, staying at the house and being involved very much in looking after them. Having to take their tea up to them in the mornings. It was quite a hard life really. Saturday mornings were spent changing beds and cleaning bedrooms and polishing silver and I have a lovely, lovely memory because every bedroom was needed to generate income because people were hard up in those days and so I used to lose my bedroom in the summer and I used to have to sleep on the floor under the kitchen table and one of my memories is of my Dad slicing the bread and the crumbs falling on me as I slept under the kitchen table. I was then promoted to a camp bed in the dining room which meant I couldn’t go to bed until everybody else had gone to bed. Eventually I said to my parents, “This can’t go on, I really need somewhere of my own.” so my Dad, bless him, wall papered the shed for me, put me in a little wash stand and basin down there and a little hanging wardrobe and it became mine. I got turned out at night like the cat, ran down the garden and jumped in and locked the door before anything could get at me. It was mine, it was a defining moment in my development I think. 

Listen to story: Bread Crumbs Falling…

In the ’50s Felixstowe was very much a holiday resort at that time and we used to have a railway station called Beach Station, which is no longer there sadly, and the train used to come to Beach Station road disgorge all its passengers who then used to make their way to the various establishments they were staying in and everybody at that time was involved in providing holiday accommodation of some kind.  Listen to story:  Disgorge its passengers!

Many years ago there were hundreds of beach huts on the South seafront land. Then in the ’80s the use of beach huts started to decline when package holidays started to come in and that’s when the holiday industry also started to decline and so whereas beach huts had been very much part of everybody’s life and lifestyle they weren’t. Postcard-Felixstowe-beach-huts

I know this for a fact because my mother then had a little kiosk shop on the corner of Manor Terrace and she had it for thirty three years actually and provided everything and the reason the shop was established was to service the hundreds of beach huts that were there. Unfortunately, her business just took a huge downward spiral, beach huts started to get vandalised, nobody cared about them and the whole of the area just went downhill.  Doug & Betty Davey, parents of Doreen Savage

When I was a child once September got here Felixstowe died. The holidaymakers went away, everything shut, restaurants shut, amusements shut, it was just dead. Now everything operates all year round. You can go down to the seafront in January on a nice sunny day and find that you’ve got hundreds of people down there doing things. It’s great, the year just continues.

We’re so lucky here because we have an ever-changing seascape out there. It’s never the same, there are boats of all descriptions coming in and going out and it’s all different. Different in its moods, different in the views that it gives you, different in the people that it brings in and the goods that it brings in. I just think it’s so exciting”


Message in a Bamboo ‘Bottle’ – Yarmouth Art Project Launched

A group of Great Yarmouth students have been taking part in an exciting new art project with Time & Tide Museum in conjunction with the Holding Back the Tide project. Bamboo bottle with an art piece inside

The young people involved in the project have created artworks inspired by the coastal environment around the town. These were placed in sealed eco-friendly bamboo ‘bottles’ and launched by students on an outgoing tide on a stormy December the 1st. It is hoped that these “messages in a bottle” will travel along the East Coast and across the sea to Europe. People who find them will be invited to let staff at Time & Tide know where they were found and to send in their own artworks inspired by the coastal environments where they live.

Launching the bamboo bottlesThe project is co-ordinated by Mark Wood from Great Yarmouth College as part of his work with the CCYY art teachers & students network. This group organises collaborative projects with students from Great Yarmouth College, Great Yarmouth High School, Cliff Park High School, Oriel high School & Caister High School. By the Jetty on Yarmouth Beach

Further Reflections from Rowhedge (Part 2)

In late September we posted a story about Hazel Thornton and her memories of her family business in Rowhedge. Hazel has been an avid sailor since her early married days in the 1950s. She has many wonderful sailing memories which she has shared with the Holding Back the Tide team.

Lawrence Thornton, Hazel's husbandHazel remembers with fondness her first ever sailing holiday as a newlywed when her husband decided to introduce her to the water. So he said “Well you’ll need some proper gear.” So I got a sou’wester of course, have you ever seen anybody in a sou’wester today? I mean it’s sort of laughable isn’t it but that’s what we bought, we had sou’westers. Jolly good they are too, they make the rain go down your back and not down the back of your neck. So I had a bright yellow sou’wester. I bought some boots, but the article that I remember was an ex Navy, very dark navy blue reefer coat. It might have been a jacket on a sailor but for me it was a top coat. So the proportions were adequate for an overcoat down to my knees on me – and probably the arms to match as well – with my hands barely sticking out of the bottom. But this coat was so heavy and so stiff you could literally stand it up and it wouldn’t fall over.

In those days when we used to go sailing we had to plan for those holidays. When you think, no car, how things were then. We’d finish the office on Friday, or Thursday if it was Easter, and make our way by train. We would have already sent an order to Jack Mills at Blackwater Yacht Charters to put on board a set of stores: cardboard box full of tins of stew, milk and eggs and bacon and things. We would have sent on ahead probably a kit bag full of things – like your boots and your heavy stuff – because the logistics of going to the office in London and then going immediately down to sailing wouldn’t permit you to be able to carry all this stuff, so you’d only have your personal things with you. And on one occasion it got put off at Shenfield. So we arrived at the boat and we hadn’t got our stuff. But Jack Mills was wonderful he motored up to Shenfield and argued it and he got it for us and came back. He was a quite wonderful and kind man and lovely chap to deal with at Blackwater Yacht Charters.

pin-mill-circa-1980Hazel has memories of Pin Mill in the 1950s and an incident on her first sail up the river Orwell to Pin Mill. “It was the end of the afternoon and it was a lovely summer’s day, probably June again, I would guess. And we were very anxious to get to Pin Mill because we’d run short of various stores and wanted to go ashore and quickly top them up, you know vital things like milk and so on. And we knew we could do it there, because in all of Jack Mills boats there was always a copy of East Coast Rivers, which was just a wonderful book a bit like Wainwright for the Fells. So we read up what it was like to go to Pin Mill and we were coming up on the very last of the tide, not that it matters there because the moorings are quite nicely deep, but it did matter for getting ashore of course. But we were very reassured because the East Coast Rivers guide said, “Landing may be effected at all states of the tide.”

So I was detailed to go ashore in the dinghy from the mooring and do the shopping. So I quickly rowed to the end of the hard, was in a hurry, went to step out of the dinghy and to my horror the hard had run out, there was no more hard. And I couldn’t get any closer – it must have been the lowest of the lowest Spring tides – and quite remarkably no hard was there. And it’s a very ungainly manoeuvre getting back into a dinghy that you’ve tried to step out of, it’s not very elegant and you feel very foolish. So, step back in I did without tipping everything over and of course I had to go back to the boat, no shopping and explain what had happened. But of course we went ashore in the evening to go to the wonderful Butt & Oyster at Pin Mill, and of course inevitably my little incident had been seen as I knew it would be by, oh I can’t remember who now, but they felt it was very funny.

Hazel’s children adored the river and took to sailing like naturals. Helen, her first born, experienced her maiden voyage at the tender age of fourteen months. It was the first of many years of memorable family holidays together on the water. Hazel with her children

Today, Hazel owns a rowing boat and enjoys her journeys along the river Colne and the Roman River observing the wildlife along the banks and reflecting on the history steeped in the river. “I wonder how many people realise that it was the Tyndale Bible, when the bible was only in Latin, and it was translated on the continent into English, and it was smuggled on a dark night up the river Colne with muffled oars. Think of the excitement, think of the daring of bringing THAT up the river. That is a strange cargo to have brought up, isn’t it, and yet it was right down there not far from where we’re sitting that this event happened.” [Rowhedge]

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