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.”

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