Archive for January, 2016

Foxearth & District History Society – Meeting report 12th Jan 2016

On 12th January the 2016 season got underway with an archive film about the floods in East Anglia during 1912 to 1953; a topical subject in view of the dreadful situations which occurred before and after Christmas in northern parts of England and Scotland. Secretary Clare Mathieson is to be congratulated on finding film so relevant to the recent tragic circumstances. The film opened with scenes of the Fens in 1912 when water levels rose by 8ft, following over 4 inches of rain, which washed away defensive banks built in Roman times. Then in February 1938 the Norfolk coast was lashed by terrible storms and 1947 saw the coldest winter in memory with heavy snow and later persistent rain causing the rapid thaw that did so much damage to arable land. At one time the water was rising by 1ft an hour. All of these events had been filmed mostly by talented amateurs to show houses submerged to the eaves, fishing boats in the middle of village greens, people being rescued and debris everywhere. Perhaps the most awesome pictures were those dating from 31st January 1953 when a freak tidal surge – with a gale measured at 113 mph – hit the East Anglian coast causing widespread flooding. There were many deaths from Harwich to Hunstanton. The people of Norway donated timber houses and American servicemen based in the area helped in the enormous clear up operation. Industry was badly affected particularly the large margarine factory at Purfleet. where the factory floor was 15ft under water. As the water receded the full horror of the damage and contamination was revealed and it is an incredible fact that moving from disaster back to normality took just 43 days. In this time every piece of equipment had to be completely dismantled and cleaned or replaced; gallons of anti-bacterial chemicals were used in repeated procedures in which all the staff and many volunteers helped. It should be remembered that this was a generation for whom memories of the blitz and warfare were still vivid and it is to their great credit that they just got on with the job. In 1953 there was no central warning system of floods – but this was to be set up within a year or two.  This was a gripping film albeit with some very sad reminders of the past.

Next meeting: Tuesday February 9th 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when Kevin Kitcher will talk about the Tower of London and what goes on there.

Ken Nice


Foxearth Local History Society Christmas Dinner – Report

Once again the Cavendish George was a comfortable and festive venue for the Christmas dinner of the District Local History Society. On 8th December 25 members and guests enjoyed traditional fare – with crackers of course – in a relaxed and happy atmosphere. Chairman Alan Fitch reflected upon an active year for the Society which had included a guided tour of historic Long Melford, local explorations with metal detectors, President Ashley Cooper’s talk on the excavations at Goldingham Hall, a dog walker’s view of East Anglia and the history of Sudbury’s department store, Winch and Blatch, as well a a couple of archive film evenings. Secretary Clare Mathieson gave an outline of the 2016 programme when there will be talks on the dissolution of the monastries, Foxearth in the Great War, the Tower of London ( by our locally-living Yeoman Warder), the history of the Harwich picture palace, local history through Essex ballads, Nurse training in the 1960s at Walnut Tree hospital and some facts about budgerigars by a member!  In prospect are possible visits to the Whitechapel bell foundry and Ely.  Clare will communicate with members about these. The President expressed appreciation for the way the Society was progressing and in particular for the leadership shown the Chairman.

The evening provided a convivial end to an interesting season and the promise of a full and varied   diary of events for the coming year.

Ken Nice