2012: Aldeburgh: Equipment fault suspected cause of shop blaze

As published by East Anglian Daily Times, 19 June 2012

Aldeburgh Market Fire

Fire investigators suspect a kitchen equipment fault to have been the cause of a blaze that left a shop badly damaged in Aldeburgh.

An investigation has found that a fault in kitchen equipment may have led to the outbreak at the Aldeburgh Market, shortly before 10.30am yesterday. Staff and customers were evacuated from the delicatessen and cafe minutes before flames spread through the first floor and broke through the building’s roof, closing the High Street to traffic for much of the day.

Fire crews from across the county joined the effort to fight the flames. Two crews initially sent to the scene required further assistance from Orford, Halesworth and Woodbridge, as well as the turntable ladder from Ipswich East.

Roadblocks were set up at either end of Aldeburgh High Street and on the Saxmundham Road approach to the town, which is currently in the middle of hosting its 65th annual arts festival.

Part of the roof collapsed under the force of the fire and most of the building was smoke-logged before firefighters were able to bring the flames under control.

2011: Aldeburgh – Pumphouse venue reopens ahead of festival

As published by East Anglian Daily Times, 11 June 2011

An intimate venue has re-opened its doors following a major refurbishment – just in time for a resort’s famous arts festival. The Aldeburgh Pumphouse has undergone a raft of improvements to its facilities. The Park Road venue, which has been closed since November, now has toilets, a dressing room and a foyer. Members from music group El Ultimo Tango, who are returning to the Pumphouse for a performance on Saturday, June 25, were on hand yesterday to celebrate the re-opening.


Members of El Ultimo Tango, Eduardo Vassallo (L to R) Mark O’Brien and Mark Goodchild at the Old Pump House in Aldeburgh. Photo copyright EADT.

The venue has opened its doors just in time for the Aldeburgh Festival, which also started yesterday. A number of performances are planned at the venue throughout the event. The revamp is part of a £16m capital spending programme by Aldeburgh Music, which runs the festival from its headquarters at Snape Maltings.

A spokesman for Aldeburgh Music said: “The improvements are quite a step forward. We are now properly equipped and it allows us to have a permanent base in Aldeburgh, as well as a second home in Snape.”

The Pumphouse, a former sewage company building, originally opened as a festival venue in 2000. It was bought by a neighbouring householder in 1993 and after they carried out some refurbishment work it was donated to Aldeburgh Music.

The Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten, is now in its 64th year and runs until Sunday, June 26. For programme details visit www.aldeburgh.co.uk.

2011: Aldeburgh Festival Pumphouse venue reopens for 2011

As published by BBC News, 7 June 2011

An intimate venue on the edge of Aldeburgh Marshes has reopened for the town’s annual music festival.

The 60-seat Pumphouse now has toilets, a dressing room and a foyer. The revamp is part of a £16m capital spending programme by Aldeburgh Music, which runs the Aldeburgh Festival from its Snape Maltings headquarters.


Cal Fell in the new dressing room at the Pumphouse

“It’s very hot, sweaty and exciting and occasionally people from the audience are invited to join in,” said Cal Fell, Pumphouse manager for the festival.

The Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten, returns for a 64th year from 10-26 June with a mainly classical programme. The Pumphouse originally opened as a festival venue in 2000.

‘Winding-down place’

Ms Fell said: “The original idea was to provide a space where festival artists could come and let their hair down and do something alternative and experimental that they couldn’t get away with at Snape Maltings. But it was also to incorporate the people of Aldeburgh and provide a drinking space and general winding-down place. Lots of people have got back on board the Aldeburgh Festival through coming to hear bits of contemporary classical music.”


The decking outside the Pumphouse looks out over Aldeburgh Marshes

Image caption The decking outside the Pumphouse looks out over Aldeburgh Marshes

The Pumphouse is a former sewage company building which was bought by a neighbouring householder, Simon Steer, in 1993. He carried out some refurbishment work and then donated it to Aldeburgh Music.

Mr Steer said: “I was always attracted by the character of the building. I thought perhaps we’d be using it for impromptu theatre, picture exhibitions until I got an inquiry from Aldeburgh Foundation which was the beginning of what it is now.”

Mr Steer said he was confident that the flood plain poses little danger to the Pumphouse.

“I’ve done a lot of measuring on that and I believe the Pumphouse to be just high enough to avoid some of the worst flooding of the past.”

2010: Aldeburgh’s high street history preserved online

As published by BBC Suffolk, 6 December 2010

Aldeburgh’s high street in 1894 – not a trendy jewellers in sight

The history of Aldeburgh’s high street is being documented on a website dedicated to the town.

Aldeburgh Museum Online charts some of the changes from 1790 to the present day, with a request being made for additional photographs.

“What we’re trying to do at the moment is put information on a database,” said Diana Hughes, the museum’s curator. “So every snippet is recorded and we can gradually build up a picture as to how the high street developed.”

The website is an extension of Ms Hughes’s book, Aldeburgh Revisited: A Portrait of a Seaside Town.

“I’m gradually going to put as many of the pictures as I possibly can so people can see what it’s like,” said Ms Hughes. “Before we started to do this, all the pictures were in these drawers and very few people got to see them.”

The website looks at several aspects of Aldeburgh’s history, from the Battle of Sole Bay, the affect of natural disasters on the town and even witchcraft. “We’ve got records of the witches,” said Ms Hughes. “Seven of them were hanged here – it was a nasty place in those days.”

History of the high street

Edward Butcher’s Supply Store on the high street, circa 1920

The archive photos show that the buildings which house shops today served the same purpose all those years ago. However, in many cases the products on offer are different.

“The whole nature of the high street has changed,” said Ms Hughes. “There are very few what you’d call basic shops now. We’ve got the Co-op, a bakers, and a greengrocers has opened up recently. But mostly it’s trendy jewellery, clothes shops, whatever they think will appeal to the visitor. Ice cream parlours, coffee shops, we’re reliant on visitors.”

Would residents welcome the return of shops from yesteryear?

“I think the locals would like it, but to be honest there aren’t that many locals, certainly not in the high street area,” said Ms Hughes. “If you look at the houses there, and off the high street, there aren’t that many permanent residents. They’re nearly all holiday accommodation, weekend cottages and the majority of local residents live outside the town. Anybody with any sense gets out and goes elsewhere – Waitrose, Tesco – for a big shop. It’s so much cheaper.”

If you have a photo of Aldeburgh you would like to share with the museum, e-mail: enquiries@aldeburghmuseum.org.uk

2007: International fight for room with a view

As published by East Anglian Daily Times, 31 March 2007

It is landmark building which enjoys panoramic views over one of Suffolk’s most upmarket coastal towns – and there is now an international scramble to own it. Standing in the heart of Aldeburgh, the redundant water tower was built in the 1870s and is set to be auctioned off for a guide price of £175,000.

But there has already been interest expressed from East Anglia, London and America, and auctioneers expect a much higher price to be paid. More than 100 people have also attended two open days at the property in Priors Hill Road, adjacent to the community hospital. It is obvious that whoever buys the tower will enjoy panoramic coastal views after they have poked their head through the roof hatch and stood on the parapet. But a future use for it will ultimately depend on a decision by planners at Suffolk Coastal.

Peter Ogilvie, a residential negotiator with Savills estate agents in Ipswich, said: ”We have received interest from every conceivable quarter, from affluent businessmen who only want this as an interest to others who are hoping for residential consent. There are also those who are interested in having it as a folly and there has been such a huge amount of interest that we do expect it will go for in excess of £200,000. It is clearly a unique opportunity to acquire a stunning building in the heart of Aldeburgh with the finest views of the river and the coast.”

However, Mr Ogilvie added: ”Whoever buys it will have to do their due diligence for there are a lot of legal issues and they will have to approach the district council to make sure that any conversion would be suitable to the planners.”

David Harvey, a civil and facilities engineer with the Essex and Suffolk Water Board, said: ”The water would have been pumped to the top where there was a tank and then the pressure in the tank from being that high would pressurise the whole network. We have been arguing over when it was last used. I was under the impression it was 1979 but I have been told today that it was about 1982. Years and years ago there would be a man in Pump Cottage opposite who would look out of his bedroom window and see from a gauge on the wall if more water was needed in the tower or not.”

There are some water towers still in use in Suffolk, including Leiston and Saxmundham, and there are others, most notably the nearby House in the Clouds at Thorpeness, which have been turned into a des res. The tower is being sold by Northumbrian Water Ltd on Monday at 10am at a Savills auction in the Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London.

2003: Aldeburgh Carnival gets into full swing

By Sarah Chambers

THOUSANDS of people flocked to Aldeburgh yesterday as its annual carnival got into full swing.

A colourful display of floats and costumed characters joined a long procession through the town as mayor Felicity Bromage looked on from the balcony of the town’s ancient Moot Hall.

Heading up the parade was carnival queen Tara Potter and her two attendants in a nautically-themed float. She was crowned, in time-honoured tradition, on the Moot Hall balcony by the town mayor. As with most Aldeburgh Carnival days, the parade took place in glorious sunshine. Pubs and ice cream and drink sellers were doing a brisk trade, and a funfair at Moot Green was packed with people. Many decided to dress up in colourful costumes, as they got into the relaxed carnival spirit.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Mrs Bromage. “What impresses me is people have obviously worked very hard at making their costumes and come up with some quirky ideas.”

Mrs Bromage, who had taken a trip out on the Aldeburgh lifeboat early in the day to look at the town from the sea, said it was a “perfect” day. The town looked wonderful, she added. She praised the “dedicated” committee which put the day together.

Earlier in the year the carnival reached crisis point when organisers said a lack of new blood was threatening its future. But the town answered the wake-up call, and new volunteers came forward at a packed public meeting.

The winners of the parade competitions were: The tiny tots’ fancy dress for under six years contest was won by Lawrence and Frances Herbert with The Owl and the Pussycat; The May Botterill Cup for up to two pedestrians in fancy dress was won by Kit Day with the headless man; The R Smith Challenge Cup for decorated cars went to “the gaggle” with their Aladdin creation; The prize for up to two pedestrians in fancy dress with cycles, handcarts or prams went to Peter Barron with Michael shoeboxes; The prize for between three and seven pedestrians in fancy dress went to the Mallinsons and the Charringtons with Greek myths; The prize for between three and seven pedestrians in fancy dress with decorated cycles, handcarts or prams went to Barry Pilgrim and Joshua and Ivo Marienfield ; The decorated cars with trailers and small pickups prize went to the Garrett House Residential Home and STV for their Harry Potter float; The winner of the contest for the best fancy dress costume for a group of more than seven pedestrians went to Mr Pinson and co for the Pied Piper; winners of the fancy dress on wheels contest was Mrs Sunnaway and Mr Ellie with their circus theme; The Louisa Moore Cup for best tableau went to The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by the Calfell Musical Academy; The Ball Cup for the overall winner went to “the gaggle” for their Aladdin theme.

East Anglian Daily Times (Online). Published 19 August 2003. Updated 24 February 2010

1948: Lifeboat Turntable

A device which aids in the rapid turn-round of a lifeboat: the Aldeburgh Lifeboat, Abdy Beauclerk, on a special turntable on the new slipway.

On this slipway, the boat can be brought ashore at any tide and immediately and easily turned round for a fresh launching.

Illustrated London News, 11 September, 1948

1947: Vicar to Preach in Cinema

“More of our people go to the films on Sunday evening than to church,” says the Rev. R. C. R. Godfrey, 34-year-old vicar of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, so after Evensong service on Sunday, he will go along to the local cinema and preach to the audience. “I think it is my business to seek them out,” he says.

Hull Daily Mail, Wednesday 27 August 1947

1940: Billet Pledge to Mothers

Naming three more coast towns as evacuation areas and giving parents in eighteen towns another chance to register their children the Government stated last night.

Since parents suppose some of the children registered under the Government’s present scheme may be sent to Canada, Australia or other Empire countries, the Government wish to make it perfectly clear that none of the children at present being moved will be sent outside this country.

Any scheme which may arise from offers made by the Dominions, which are now under consideration by the Government, would be entirely separate, and no child will be sent abroad except at the wish of parents.

The three new evacuation towns are Aldeburgh and Southwold (both in Suffolk) and Hythe (Kent). Schools will be open there today and on Thursday for the registration of children.

In response to appeals from parents whose children were not evacuated when the movement from the south-east coast took place on June 2, the Government has decided to give them another chance to register today and tomorrow in these towns:-

Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Harwich, Clacton, Frinton and Walton, Southend, Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Sandwich, Dover, Deal, Folkestone, Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester and Sheerness.

The date of evacuation from Aldeburgh, Southwold and Hythe and the other towns will be decided after registration has closed. It will be as early as possible but adequate notice will be given. The children will go to the Midlands and South Wales.

Arrangements have now been completed for the six-day evacuation, which begins on Thursday, of 120,0000 registered schoolchildren from Greater London. None will be taken to the Eastern Counties. The great majority are going to Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Wales.

Daily Mirror Wednesday 12 June 1940

1940: Florence Nightingale Of The Storm

“Dovey” is always ready! Seventy, but is she tough!

Miss Pettit

Aldeburgh, Suffolk, Saturday

The tempest whines. Huge breakers crash upon the shore. And all who can, seek shelter from the black-out and the storm. But one lone figure remains – the figure of Miss “Dovey” Pettit. Little Old Lady of the Wrecks.

Clad in man’s trilby, gum boots and sou’wester, this seventy-years-old woman stands waiting for the lifeboats to land their human salvage.

Then she gets busy. Steaming drinks, hot baths, dry clothes, she prepares them all, and soon the men who have looked death in the face begin to smile again.

Today I met this Florence Nightingale of the Storm and, helped by local fishermen pieced together the story of her years of service to seafaring men.

Eighteen years ago the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Society sought for a local agent. But no one would take on the unpaid post. Then a fisherman said jokingly: “Why not try Miss Pettit? She’ll take on any job if it is for a good cause.”

Since then hundreds of seamen from dozens of foundered vessels have had cause to thank the kindly, white-haired soul who has come to their aid. I can’t report what she has done during this war. Censorship forbids. But many a night the old lady has risen from her bed and made her way through the inky black-out to the look-out station in answer to the alarm.

Not even the blinding flurry of a snowstorm kept her from her post. Take one wreck that occurred within the past 12 months. From Aldeburgh’s two lifeboats 80 men, soaked to the skin, some of them fainting from exposure, were landed. The old lady met them all and in no time escorted them to a local hall. Baths were provided; food, too. But clothes. That was the problem. Miss Pettit only had clothes for seven or eight men, that being the number for which she usually had to cater.

Somewhat varied

But the Florence Nightingale of the Storms was not going to be beaten. She has powerful lungs and marched through every street shouting:-

“Anybody got any clothes for the shipwrecked me? If so, please take them to the Jubilee Hall.”

Aldeburgh answered her call and within an hour she had more than enough garments.

“Although they had undergone a terrible experience, the sailors just had to laugh at themselves when they were dressed,” she told me. “One man wore a straw hat, white flannels and a dinner jacket; another evening dress trousers and a fisherman’s blue sweater.”

The old lady is regarded by tough local fisherman as one of themselves. They all call her “Dovey”, her childhood nickname.

The People, 3 March 1940