KIRTON IN 2018 – LOCAL HISTORY RECORDER’S REPORT
Another year against a backcloth of Austerity and Brexit, despite which Village life continued to flourish. The Kirton & Falkenham Review addressed a wide range of activities and happenings and constitutes a fine record of village life over the year – copies have been retained as usual.
THE DRAFT LOCAL PLAN cast a shadow over much of the year. Within the Parish, a local landowner’s plan for housing on back-land to the rear of 31-37 Bucklesham Road (SCLP12.51) drew considerable opposition but to nobody’s surprise, it made it into the Final Draft nevertheless.
Just over the border in Trimley St Martin, Trinity College’s relentless determination to develop Innocence Farm as an off-port logistics facility (SCLP12.35) drew a great deal of attention from within the Parish and all along the Colneis Peninsula.
On 24th July SCDC held a well-attended exhibition of the First Draft Plan at the Pavilion. The full scale of opposition, however, was first revealed when the Parish Council called a special meeting on 24th August – the Church Hall was filled to standing-room only. The surprise of the evening was when Stephen Wrinch of Innocence House took the floor to announce he had already made plans to harness opposition to create a force with which SCDC would have to reckon. He received a standing ovation and the campaign “Kirton & Trimley Landgrab” was under way. At a public meeting on 12th September in Trimley St Martin, again standing room only, Stephen and his team set out their plans. Alongside Innocence, the Group would also be mounting opposition to the development, again by Trinity College, of 360 houses at Howlett Way set against the wider backcloth of innumerable schemes along the Peninsula ranging from Brightwell Lakes to the Garden Neighbourhood in Felixstowe. Within thirty-six hours a petition to SCDC had secured 978 signatures only for their legal department to rule it “an excluded matter”.
At each stage of the process, what would later become the Kirton & Trimley Community Action Group (KATCAG) made its views known, writing to each Councillor in October threatening to field their own candidates in the May Elections and in December to the SCDC Scrutiny Committee. Support was garnered by leaflet drops, a website and a presence on Facebook. The Group also launched an on-line petition to Trinity College – currently 1400 signatures – and engaged the services of a barrister with expertise in Planning.
There was a significant change in the Innocence proposal between the First and Final Drafts whereby SCDC pulled back from the “high” case in the Lichfield Report, the sole evidence base for the Policy, to the “median” case of 67Ha which was, in reality, no more than a simple average between the high and low cases. SCDC argued, naturally, that this was in response to local concerns and sought further to sweeten the pill by promising extensive buffering along with woodland and possibly extra parking for the School on the eastern flanks of the site.
Trimley St Martin School itself became a cause of significant concern with the Final Plan depicting SCC’s plan for a new school at the Reeve Lodge development, implying the closure of “our” own. Major funding would come from levies on housing developers and, no doubt, the new school would be run by “a sponsor” i.e. taken out of the control of the LEA and effectively privatised. Generations of Kirton children have attended the School and its potential demise in favour of a much larger establishment has filled both past and present pupils, parents and teachers with dismay.
The next stage in the process was the approval of the Final Draft Plan by the full SCDC on 3rd January. Members of KATCAG attended in force only to see the Plan adopted despite the opposition of several councillors and an eloquent presentation by Susan Harvey. A video of the long – two hours twenty-five minutes – meeting is viewable at:
Subsequently, the Final Draft Plan went out for Consultation seeking “Representations” to the formal Inquiry by the Planning Inspector. Technically this is now in 2019 but our own “Representation” to the Planning Inspector addressed the broader societal challenges exemplified by the Innocence Farm over the course of 2018:
“Finally, we come to the democratic deficit – the growing apathy and indeed antipathy to the way we are governed. The saga of Innocence Farm is a text-book example of why people have become so disaffected and cynical. A common refrain is ‘It’s all back-handers mate’.
The nature and scale of local opposition to an Innocence Farm allocation has been voiced on numerous occasions including:
• the 2017 Issues & Options
• the 2017 Scoping document
• the 2018 First Draft Local Plan
• the 2018 Final Draft Local Plan
While theoretically rigorous, the system, it would seem by intent, simply wears people down. Its procedures are complex and unfamiliar. People have very busy lives. The need to respond time after time amounts to a war of attrition. And then, at the end of it all as the full council approves the Final Draft Plan, the Council Planning Chief, radiating annoyance and disdain, snaps: “It wouldn’t matter if a million of you objected.” We cannot but fear we are entering dangerous territory.
This is a significant Inquiry. A very heavy responsibility rests with the Inspector. If the Colneis Peninsula is to survive as we know and love it and if people at large are to feel as if in some way they matter, then we are all depending on his or her conclusions.”
EA ONE – work on the cabling for the new wind farm continued apace over the course of the year. HGV traffic along Innocence Lane thorough the village and down Park Lane was relentless as evidenced by erosion of the verges and pot-holes. It was only in December that the cables arrived – previous months having been devoted to embedding the ducts. The valuable cables were accompanied by the installation of a sophisticated and highly (overly?) sensitive alarm system (Armadillo). At least in the early days, its going-off gave many passers-by a fright and the sound of the siren could be heard far and wide accompanied by a stern Northern Irish voice in a loop sounding out: “Warning – your presence has been detected – the owner and police have been informed”. Vincent (Vinny) Monahan, also the lead archaeologist on the Kirton excavations, featured on television in June with the most remarkable find of the whole project – a Neolithic ritual site on the outskirts of Woodbridge.
In Kirton, beyond prehistoric field systems, the most promising site – a possible Roman farm building – was found to have only a single wall remaining. The full report on the archaeological investigations along the cable route has yet to be published.
Recordings of Long-Term Kirton Residents – Jane Bradburn kindly delivered copies of cds she had made between 2006 and 2011 of conversations she had recorded in the course of her Memories Project. Several of her interviewees have since passed away. The recordings relate the unique life experiences of the individuals concerned. They are and will remain a valuable resource for people interested in local history. The following people were interviewed:
Les Leggett – 21st January 2007
Dionne Sheriff – 5th March 2008
May Copping – 6th June 2007
Ken Mowles – 7th August 2007
Joan Cone – 22nd June 2011
Gladys Lloyd – 22nd June 2011
George & Joyce Haines – 13th August 2007
Eddie Clowe- 19th July 2007
Basil Smith – 6th August 2007
David Kirk – 21st May 2007
Ted Baxter- 8th May 2008
Arthur Smith – 10th April 2007
Charles Posford – 25th May 2007
Owen Barber- 9th June 2007
Ann Quinton – 7th June 2007
Russell Kemp – 21st July 2007
June Shepherd – 16th August 2007
Tony Lewis – 3rd May 2007
Val Churchyard – 29th August 2006
Jane had visited in the course of preparing for a talk for the WI on Kirton in WWII – around 38 people attended.
Leggett Treasures – on behalf of the family, Adrian Leggett kindly deposited several valuable items of local historical interest. One in particular was very interesting – the Minute Book for the Kirton & Falkenham Labour Party from its inception on 14th June 1950 to its last entry in November 1972. It gives a unique insight into the political and social life of the ordinary people of the village over the period. Other items included Minutes of the Kings Fleet Angling Club 1959-1969; photocopies of Reading Room (?) & Bowls Club Minutes early 20th C. (yet to be catalogued); photographs from Mr Smy; a memoir by Basil Smith dated 2008; a 1950 Christmas card from the Rev & Mrs Weir; the sale catalogue for the auction of the Sluice Farm Samford Herd of 299 Holsteins on 22nd June 1991- the end of dairy-farming in Kirton; various photographs & newspaper cuttings and Les Leggett’s albums of local photographs for eventual comparison with the LHR’s own since we had built up our collections together over the years.
“The Autobiography of Ellen “Nellie” Mary Desborough –– Kirton’s Oldest Native” – in 1977
A copy of this excellent 21 page document arrived back in Kirton after many years in the West Country following its re-emergence at the wake for a relative of Sheila Lambert who kindly let me take a copy. It was written as Nellie approached her 87th birthday, having been born at Innocence Cottage in 1890. It reveals a fascinating picture of her life: in the village; in service in Ealing; back to Kirton at the start of WW1 when her mother died “…to take up the burden she had to lay down…” of looking after her father and brothers; and of many years “…in the rather gruesome task of laying out the dead” – “I could never refuse people in trouble…” – “Eventually the undertakers took over and did all this work. I found it rather sad as they were all people I knew and wasn’t sorry when my services were no longer required and I could stay in bed on a cold night.” All-in-all a gem.
The Centenary of the WW1 Armistice – was commemorated by the Scouts creating 100 poppies from tins and installing them in front of the main door to the Church. Ted Payne organised a trail across the village with an accompanying map to locations with notices indicating where each of Kirton’s fallen had lived. Inside the Church several poignant outlines of soldiers were installed – “Here but not Here”. The Beacon was lit on the Green on 11th November.
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) – in an apparent first, the June edition of the Review contained a two page Annual Report for 2017/2018, giving people at large an insight into their work.
Hopefully this will have set a precedent for the Church as it faces up to the challenges of an increasingly secular society.
The Weather – presented two unusual challenges. The “Beast from the East” arrived at the end of February bringing a prolonged period of unusually cold and snowy weather. The school was closed. There was an admirable response on the part of the local community who set up a team to ensure that elderly and vulnerable people were safe and well-supplied with food. In March we had prolonged period of bitterly cold Easterly winds. Then from the 1st June we experienced a lengthy drought with no meaningful rain until the end of July. Our own well has yet to recover at the time of writing. Across the country and most notably in Ireland, the lack of rain revealed a wide range of crop-marks of previously unknown structures below the land surface. It had been hoped to secure a drone to survey the Innocence site, known to be in the midst of Neolithic crop-marks and possible a cursus but an appeal for a pilot was unsuccessful. On the 22nd December a solitary bumble-bee was observed.
Health – it was revealed to general dismay that the Felixstowe Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) would from April 2019 no longer offer a walk-in service. As ever, resistance proved pointless. Efforts on-line to find the precise respects in which our MIU failed to meet the new NHS standards were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile the NHS were also looking at abolishing the maximum four hour waiting time at A&Es which are often referred to nowadays as “Emergency Departments” in a patronising attempt to dissuade people from attending. At GP surgeries decline is ongoing. Very often no appointments are available on the day. Calls queue – our record is being 18th in line – to be answered by what are now described as “Care Navigators” and a call-back offered if one remains insistent. During December, a vicious, long-lasting and recurrent infection seemed to reach epidemic proportions such that people when they met were saying “Have you had that cold”. Finally, an interesting statistic was that in Suffolk in 2017, there were more deaths (7,345) than births (6,417).
Local Recorders – a useful meeting was held with Liz Rastrick and Rosemary Gitsham, the current and previous St Martin Recorders along with Jane Banning, the St Mary Recorder. Working with Liz, an expert on libraries and on-line research, has been of great benefit.
New Old Photographs – liaison with John Smith resulted in an exchange of photographs. John still has copies of several of his books for sale – not least “Village Life In and Around Felixstowe”:
House, Van & Car Break-Ins – there seemed to be occasional flurries over the year.
The Kirton Community & Countryside Conservation Facebook Group – grew to around 560 members. It has added considerably to the sense of community and has become an important news medium for the village but not without the occasional frisson of controversy, for example the shooting & trapping of magpies, the clearance of thickets at The Splash. Several interesting local history threads have been woven:
Wooden Posts – were erected around the Green so as to prevent parking.
Retail News – the announcement of the closure of M&S in Felixstowe in April 2019 caused great disappointment. Meanwhile a huge new Lidl on Beach Station Road was opened on February 22nd.
People in the News
Susan Harvey revealed she would not be standing in the May elections, stepping down from SCDC after eight years including a year as Chair. She had previously been a Parish Councillor for around thirty years.
Rev. Sarah Jenkins arrived in June as a curate to the Rev. Canon Ian Wilson to support him his work covering the eight parishes in the Orwell & Deben Benefice.
Lynn Allen featured on Look East in her role for Suffolk Coasts & Heaths addressing the ongoing challenge of litter on our beaches.
Sad Departures included Pam Leggett, June Shepherd, Gavin Backhouse, Linda Jacobs, Gwen Cook, Peter Hearne, John Ridgard & Ron Bennett
Kirton Local History Recorder
Kirton 568 April 2019