KIRTON IN 2017 – LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER’S REPORT
EA One – as work ramped up for the new off-shore wind farm, 2017 witnessed humanity’s most significant impact on the Kirton landscape, greater, perhaps, even than the building of the sea walls back in Tudor times. At a cost of £2.5bn, the project involves 102 turbines producing 714MW – enough to supply almost 600,000 homes. En route to Bramford, the cable makes landfall in Bawdsey, passes under the Deben to Falkenham, on to Kirton crossing Park Lane, down to and under the Mill River to Hemley. Burying the cable entails a 55m corridor, 9m for a subsoil bund, 11m for topsoil with the remaining 35 m being stripped of topsoil for ducting and the haul road.
There have been negatives. In June the erection of a traffic sign in Park Lane severed the BT cable, disabling both telephones and the Internet for several days. Later in the year, traffic volumes greatly increased as deliveries of aggregate and tarmac headed down to create and then fill a compound in a field to the south of Park Lane. At year end around a dozen cabins occupied the site, one inhabited by a watchman who had been there since the work began. Thankfully, owing to the intervention of the Parish Council, HGV traffic came off and back to the A14 via Innocence Lane rather than past the school as EA One had proposed. Unfortunately, the alternative of using the farm track alongside The Manor was declined by the Parish Council in favour of Park Lane despite the implications for some eighty residences. At least most of the negatives should prove to be time-limited.
On the other hand there have been positives. Firstly we have been spared pylons and may be proud at being part of one of the most innovative construction projects in the UK. Then, as a condition of approval, the path of the cable has been subject to the most intense scrutiny ever and from a variety of perspectives – landscape, trees & wildlife and not least geology and archaeology. As to the latter, a document called “A Written Scheme of Investigation” was produced in February. This ran to 778 pages and reflected the findings of detailed desk-research, metal-detecting and trial trenches of which there were 625 – 88 of them in Kirton alone:
It was exciting to learn that the only evidence of a structure along the entire length of the corridor was found in one of the Kirton trial trenches down towards the Mill River.
The Investigation also served to identify sites warranting full archaeological excavation. These were undertaken later in the year but the reports have yet to be published. Up to 250 archaeologists were deployed on the work at any one time. The lead archaeology company was Wardell Armstrong whose Outreach Officer, Claire Halley, organised several “Meet The Archaeologists” events. Many of the digs were subcontracted. In Kirton, a Bury St Edmunds firm, Archaeological Solutions, did the excavations and two of their team – Vincent Monahan & Andrew Peachey – took obvious delight in the public sessions. On 13th December EA One held an information event at the Pavilion.
Innocence Farm – On 3rd January, Bidwells, on behalf of Trinity College, sprang into action by sending SCDC a “Proposed Scoping Document” (DC/17/0010/SCO) with their thoughts on the contents of a potential Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for a logistics park envisaging daily traffic movements of 3,200 HGVs and 600 cars:
As this was not a formal planning application, SCDC consulted only with “relevant statutory parties” i.e. the abutting Parish Councils but not with the local residents. Nevertheless, close on 200 people made representations, almost unanimously expressing opposition to any development along the lines suggested. In its response on 27th March, SCDC drew the landowner’s attention to the nature, scale and strength of feeling of local people as well as identifying specific areas which should be addressed in any EIA. These included:
• highways along with the traffic impact of the development itself and cumulatively in relation to approved and prospective developments
• alternative sites along both the A12 & A14 and potential within the port and its hinterland
• archaeology – a full evaluation as prescribed by the County Archaeology Service
• air quality & land contamination
• flood management
• landscape & visual effects
• ecology & habitats
SCDC were reminded that a study they had themselves had commissioned in 2008 from GHK in association with Haskoning – “Felixstowe Ports Logistics Study” – had identified 28 possible sites, the majority outside the Colneis peninsula. Unsurprisingly, none of these other sites is in the ownership of Trinity College. The report is available on-line at:
SCDC – Issues & Options – A New Local Plan to 2036 – a consultation was undertaken from mid-August to the end of October seeking views on the likely growth in housing demand and jobs and where that growth should be located:
Integral to the document was the depiction of sites submitted by landowners, developers and agents in response to earlier SCDC “Calls for Sites”, the most recent being in 2016. A Village Meeting was held at the Church Hall on 18th September to discuss the 173 page document and in particular, the impact on land in Kirton & Falkenham and the adjoining parishes. Over 140 people attended. Discussion was greatly facilitated with an impressive, double-sided A4 leaflet summarising the implications of 18 sites prepared by Jack Cade and distributed by the Parish Council to each household. The proposals concerning land would be potentially devastating to the village’s rural setting on the relatively undeveloped east of the A14, in particular:
Site 706 Innocence Farm (see above) – 115.5 hectares for Storage or Distribution
Site 356 Ham’s Farmhouse – 92 hectares for Mixed Use
Site 327 East of Walk Farm – 65 hectares for Housing & Employment
Site 755 West of Trimley Road – 10.2 hectares – 203 Houses & Open Space
Site 1037 Opposite 14-32 Park Lane – 126 Houses
Site 654 Rear of 101-137 Bucklesham Road – 108 Houses
Site 552 Fronting Falkenham Road – 100 Houses
SCDC staged a Public Exhibition at the Pavilion on 2nd October which was well attended. The Parish Council sent in a 35 page response with 151 comments, again pulled together by Jack Cade. The next step will be a first Draft Report in Spring 2018 after SCDC have considered all 6929 comments, followed by a draft Final Report in the Autumn.
The Tale of the Rev. Weir’s 1928 Postcard of the Rectory – It all started with a rather battered old postcard on the eBay website. We already had a more pristine copy but what drew us to this one was the message. It had been sent in February 1928 from the Rectory by “W” to “Mrs Weir at 74 Northumberland Road, Dublin”, thanking her for “the birthday presents. Gloves & doll” and enquiring after “…the new arrival & Ethel”. We knew straight away that it had been sent by “our” Rev. William Weir to his mother and that “the new arrival” was his daughter Mary Weir now Mary Harley living in Strathpeffer. We had been in touch with Mary over the years and she had kindly sent her collection of Kirton material for the Archive some time ago.
We set out to put the card in context on the family tree site Ancestry. There we found the Bird tree listing Weirs and links to a family called Wilson which in turn led the Brown tree. So far, so interesting, as just another little local history quest.
Then, up on the Bird Ancestry website popped an obituary of the Ven. John Hewitt Wilson who had been Chaplain-in-Chief to the RAF and had married a Joan Weir. Then to our amazement, the website indicated that the same article featured on the family history pages of my own second cousin. The phrase “small world” would seem inadequate in light of the coincidences. In a nutshell, I am technically related to the Weirs & Wilsons by virtue of my second cousin’s father being a third cousin to Ven. Wilson and his wife being born a Weir.
Almost 90 years on then, we sent the card to Mary Harley as it had been sent by her father to her grandmother and referred to her. She replied with a hand-written letter. Later we had a surprise visit from Alison Black (Mary Harley’s daughter, granddaughter of “our” Rev. Weir) accompanied by her cousin Alison Wintgen who had lived at the Rectory for a time.
In the course of these researches we finally drew up a couple of family trees, one depicting the links between the Wilson family of Cork & the Weir family of Dublin and the other the Weir:Longman links – Rev. Weir’s wife Sybil had been born a Longman and her ancestors included the publishing group of that name along with Dickinsons, the stationery company and John & Arthur Evans, the renowned archaeologists.
- Old Estate Maps – Charles Posford of Falkenham kindly took photographs of estate papers and maps held in his family archive.
- LIDAR Photography – in January local archaeologist Tom Lucking was researching a possible medieval deer-park at Lodge Farm in the course of which he obtained a LIDAR photograph of the area. The technology – Light Detection and Ranging – is a remote sensing method that uses pulsed laser to measure topography. Tom’s hunch was found not to be.
- WWII Evacuees – a lady, Christine Ward, got in touch to establish whether Kirton had been the village to which her mother, aunt and two uncles had been evacuated. She sent two photographs in her family’s possession which confirmed that this was the case – one of soldiers with children including the Jacobs boys had featured in the K&F Old Photographs book published back in 2003 – and the other of a house called Fernside on the Falkenham road. The latter meant that her mother had been staying at the Runnacles house and indeed Joan Cone nee Runnacles had mentioned in her memoir the very short stay of the two girls in question. We have yet to establish where the boys might have stayed. Along with many others, they had been evacuated from Dagenham and sent to Felixstowe on a steam paddle-boat en route to Kirton. Later another lady was in touch – Georgina Southall – who was researching another, apparently unrelated, Ward family and by coincidence her mother and aunt had also been evacuated from Dagenham by sea but they were destined for Lowestoft. A wealth of interesting material relating to the Evacuees was found on the Internet.
- Exemplars of Family History Studies – Georgina’s ancestors were at Bucklesham and Brightwell and she kindly shared her write-ups where she took the bare bones of dates along with photographs and wove them into delightful narratives. By coincidence Georgina works at the school where Mr Stock had been headmaster before his move to Trimley St Martin.
- Elections: Local in May & National in June – there were no surprises from voters in our area but we are all having to live with the Tory Government’s dependency on the DUP as they approach the challenge of Brexit. Copies of campaign literature have been kept.
- Community Emergency Plan – on behalf of the Parish Council, Peter Lickert conducted a survey with a form to every household to identify people potentially vulnerable in such a situation along with those who may be able to help.
- Brown Bins – SCDC decided to introduce a charge of £43 pa in the next financial year. The decision seems not to have been universally welcome with many people anticipating an increase in fly-tipping.
- The Kirton Community & Countryside Conservation Facebook Group founded by Julie March and Paul Durrant grew in popularity closing the year with going on 300 members.
- Local History News – we had a meeting with Liz Rastrick, the new Recorder for Trimley St Martin taking over from Rosemary Gitsham who had served for many years. The potential move of the Suffolk Record Office to a new waterfront building – “The Hold” – was generally welcomed but not so the prospect of closing the Lowestoft office. Also regrettable was the decision by Suffolk Libraries to cancel some of their online subscriptions: The Times Digital Archive; British Library 19th Century Newspapers; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Oxford English Dictionary and a number of other, specialist information resources. The Suffolk Local History Council, which operates the Recorders Scheme is keen to recruit more individual members. Its Calendar of events is now on-line and the website has a list of parishes both with (but no names) and without a Recorder.
- Community Shop – two meetings were held in July organised by Susan Harvey and Joanna Perry to establish the level of support for a community initiative in the old shop in Falkenham Road.
- A Sonic Boom on 4th October – startled people across East Suffolk when two Typhoon jets intercepted a Ryanair plane en route from Lithuania to Luton and escorted it to Stansted – in the event it was a false alarm.
- A Mains Water Flush was undertaken by Anglian Water at the end of February: they also installed new manholes in Park Lane in July.
- The Friends of Kirton Church had a church warden attend its AGM in the Church on 9th July.
- Stephen Harvey’s 25 years as a Licensed Reader were celebrated in a service at the Church on 29th October.
- A Defibrillator was installed at the Pavilion sponsored by Kirton Kestrels and the Felixstowe Road Runners. Falkenham electrician David Cox carried out the installation pro bono.
- The Merger of SCDC with Waveney DC to form the East Suffolk DC was confirmed in November without public consultation. The number of councillors will be cut by almost 40% – from 90 to 55.
- The Felixstowe Police Station was closed – they now share accommodation with the Fire Station.
- The Merger of the Ipswich Hospital with its Colchester counterpart was announced – the former is a Trust hospital whereas the latter has Foundation status with a democratically elected Board of Governors and was subject to enforcement undertakings in January.
- The Orwell Bridge closed for eight hours on 20th October owing to a fatal accident. The lay-bys either side of the bridge have been designated exclusively for the emergency services.
- The Average Suffolk Wage was established to be £17,827 in a survey by Grant Thornton of “Suffolk Limited” made up of the 100 largest Suffolk companies.
Sad Departures included:
Brian Greening Stephen Mulley Peter Fosker Deborah Dickerson
Keith Slaughter Ernie Veitch Hester Doggett Frank Grace
Len Lanigan – Kirton Local History Recorder