DECEMBER MEETING REPORT
At the Trimley Table-Top Sale on November 10th we made £28, not nearly as much as we usually make with our cake stall at the Kirton Arts and Crafts Fair, but as you know this was not held this year. The outing to the Suffolk Food Hall on November 27th followed by lunch at the Oyster Reach was voted a success. A number of us found some interesting ideas for presents there. The Group Carol Concert did not attract many people and it may be an idea to try something different next year. We are already looking forward to events in 2013 (as long as the world does not end on 21st Dec.) including the Group and Federation AGMs. For ourselves we are thinking of arranging a visit to the Hut, a possible outing to a summer show and a lunch at Shelley’s, the Suffolk College restaurant.
Our December meeting, which was well attended, had a Christmassy feel to it with crackers and gift bags provided by our president and a festive tea. Mr Phil Hadwen who is an expert on local history came to talk to us about Victorian Felixstowe and show us numerous black and white photos taken by a photographic pioneer called Emeny. This trailblazer’s studio was situated where you will find Argos today. Phil started off by flattering us – he told us we were the youngest group he had talked to recently.
At the beginning of Victoria’s reign Felixstowe hardly existed at all and communications were dire: it took four and a half hours for the stage coach to get from Walton to Ipswich. Its development as a seaside resort took place mainly during the Edwardian Era but the seeds were sown back in the nineteenth century. Modern Felixstowe was established by two rival developers: Colonel Tomlyn at the Languard Fort end and Mr Cobbold at the Ferry. Sea bathing had been instituted as a health treatment in the eighteenth century mainly as a method to cure George III’s madness, (it did not work!) and many people were keen to participate. Evidently the best month for immersion was considered to be November and along with this you were supposed to drink a pint of sea water a day. Obviously you were not actually supposed to enjoy the regime! After the dock basin had been dug out by hand Tomlyn set the navvies to work constructing a railway which he made certain would come to his end of the town while Cobbold had plans for a bridge across the Deben and even a tunnel under it. As the people began to arrive hotels were built to accommodate them including the Orwell and the Bath, although the latter was burnt down by suffragettes in 1914. In its time Felixstowe was a very exclusive resort.
Phil ended by making a very generous offer. When we visit the Hut, he said, he is prepared to act as our guide on a walk in the locality and explain a bit more about this very interesting town. I think we may take him up on that!
V E Bines