Foxearth & District Local History Society – Report of meeting on 13th October.

The premier department store in Sudbury, Winch and Blatch, has existed for 70 years having been established in December 1945. In a fascinating talk to the Foxearth and District Local History Society on 13th October, Mrs Judith Blatch – Company Secretary and Financial Director – described the development of the enterprise starting with a description of the store’s oldest building. Housing the main store this listed building is thought, from its decorated and octagonal crown post, to have been constructed about 1300. Other buildings were added in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mr Winch was an established trader in King St in 1800. A disastrous fire on New Years Day 1922 destroyed a whole parade of shops after which Mr Winch acquired the old building mentioned above. Mrs Blatch showed some very graphic photo slides of the devastation. Delays in dealing with the conflagration resulted from attempts to draw water from a 33 foot well with a 30 foot hose and the fact that Sudbury and Long Melford fire appliances operated on differing gauges of hose! In the 1960s John and Vera Blatch – who were already trading in the town as drapers – bought the premises from Mr Winch and later acquired the shop of  R S Joy, silk merchant and draper, which ultimately became the present menswear department. The present homewares store is on the site of an inn, the Rose and Crown, which was replaced by a cinema in the 1930s and later by a supermarket. Mrs Blatch emphasised that diligent research has shown rumours that tunnels lead from the old building cellars to various other buildings in the vicinity to be completely untrue!

This was a most carefully planned and interesting talk with some excellent illustrations and Mrs Blatch was warmly thanked by Chairman Alan Fitch on behalf of 18 members and guests present.

The Chairman reported that he would endeavour to book The George at Cavendish for this year’s Christmas dinner hopefully on the second Tuesday of December.

Next meeting: Tuesday 10th November 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall for an archive film evening.

Ken Nice

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