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Foxearth & District History Society – Report of meeting 13th Feb 2018

The Foxearth and District Local History Society began its 20th season on February 13th 2018 with a Film archive evening. As we watched “Yarmouth in days gone by” we were taken on a herring fishing trip in raging seas and on a hair-raising big dipper ride; these really were moving pictures and not for the faint-hearted!

Yarmouth was a town built on the abundant herring fishing at the height of which some 800 million fish would be caught in a season. Until the early years of the 20th century sailing boats comprised the fleet but the advent of the coal-fired steam drifter greatly increased the yield as these, much larger  vessels, were not reliant on the wind; there were 1,000 registered drifters at one time.

This industry was highly labour intensive and hundreds of women were employed in cleaning and preserving the fish by salting and smoking. Many girls came down from Scotland to work and such “imported” labour swelled the population of the town by 10,000 in the season. The export trade thrived. To protect their hands girls bandaged their fingers and the experienced ones could gut herrings at the incredible rate of 65 a minute. The inevitable result was that they took back to their lodgings the stench of their workplace and put newspaper on the walls in an effort to absorb the odour. Herring fishing was considerably curtailed during the second World War with many of the drifters being diverted to patrol and mine detecting work and by the mid 1950s the white fish trade had largely taken over.

The other aspect of Yarmouth life from the beginning of the 20th century was its development as a holiday resort. Visitors had always come to bathe believing that the sea would cure many ailments and the provision of railway links led to the town’s rapid transition to a major attraction with its two piers and associated amusments,rides, circus and theatre. Stars like Tommy Cooper,

Charlie Chester and Arthur Askey brought in the fans. The harbour became a venue for pleasure craft taking holiday makers on tours and to the Broads and – away from the seaside – there was the race course and aeroplane flights over the area. All of this made Yarmouth the fifth wealthiest town in England for a period.

This was a very thougthfully composed film, full of interest  from start to finish and applauded by the 25 members in attendance. Members were reminded that a deposit of £5 was requested from those intending to go on the trip to Ely on 14th August.

Next meeting: Tuesday 13th March at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall. This will be the Annual General Meeting to which members (and new ones will always be welcomed) are asked to bring old photographs of Foxearth and surrounding villages.

Ken Nice

Foxearth Sparkles

Foxearth Village Hall was the scene of a Christmas spectacular on Saturday evening, 16th December when – to cheers from a large gathering of villagers – the lights of a large Christmas tree outside were ceremoniously switched on. Carols were sung and mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls consumed. Reindeer headgear and fancy hats were shown off and our sincere thanks are expressed to the team who worked to kick-start this year’s celebrations.

Ken Nice

Liston Quiet Lane – Consultation Meeting – 5th Dec 2017

Following a request by the Parish Council for Foxearth and Liston, via the Braintree Local Highways Panel, for the designation of Liston Lane as a “Quiet Lane” a public consultation was held in Foxearth Village Hall on 5th December. About 30 local residents attended to hear a presentation by two representatives of the Highways Department.

The Quiet Lane concept was described as a way of protecting the character and tranquility of country lanes by increasing awareness of the needs of walkers, cyclists, horse riders and the mobility-impaired. The idea is to encourage vehicle users to be more in touch with  their environment and the other users they may encounter. It seeks to emphasize the rural aspect by allowing roadside hedges and verges to be less restricted; “letting nature take back a bit more control” was how one of the presenters summarised the concept. The Liston proposal would run from Liston Church to the lane’s junction with New Road and  – if approved  – would be one of four trials in Essex,   It was noted that Norfolk and Suffolk already have a number of operating quiet lanes. There would be an explanatory sign at each end of the designated area and the system would be reviewed after a year.

In the subsequent question and answer session there were one or two comments about whether this was really neccessary but no objections were voiced.. In particular it was felt that it might be a useful deterrent to drivers of very large vehicles who occasionally have taken the unsuitable lane and who have been observed spending up to two hours to extricate themselves. There would be no speed limit and the experiment could start in March 2018. Other comments related to concern about the two  bridges on the lane and the need for the Rodbridge exit to be improved including a suggestion that priority at that bridge should be for vehicles approaching from the Suffolk side rather than as at present.

At the end of the meeting there appeared to be a general acceptance that the proposal was a good idea and worth a try.

Ken Nice