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Aldeburgh, Church Hill 1903

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Caption for Aldeburgh, Church Hill 1903

HOW pleasing to end this visual and historical journey at Aldeburgh. 'During the present century the town has considerably improved; its salubrious air and extensive beach on which there is a splendid walk of nearly two miles, having induced many families to make it their summer residence, sev- eral mansions and villa residences have sprung up with three commodious hotels. From the hill behind the town there is a splendid view of the German ocean.' This was how Morris & Co's Directory viewed Aldeburgh in 1868. Certainly the town was enjoy- ing a revival of fortune, for Crabbe's Aldeburgh of sixty years before was plainly undistinguished. The Regency fashion for sea bathing was the start of Aldeburgh's improved outlook. When Morris was writing, the railway had reached the town, and it helped to sustain the economy for century. We must not forget that there were still nearly 200 licensed fishing vessels in Aldeburgh at this time, catching herrings and sprats and sole. Between these working boats sprawled on the shingle, bathing huts were appearing; and as the Frith photographs show, the two trades lived peacefully together. Certain personalities moulded the town in its modern history. Newson Garrett was one, and the profits from his entrepreneurial skill helped to reshape Aldeburgh. He built the Jubilee Hall to celebrate Victoria's long reign, and later Benjamin Britten used the hall extensively in the first years of the now internationally-known Aldeburgh Festival. There are distinguished women too in the Aldeburgh story. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Newson's second daughter, fought tenaciously for the right to qualify as a doctor. She suc- ceeded, and later broke down another barrier when she became the first woman in Britain to hold the office of Mayor - of Aldeburgh, of course. She is a key figure in the achievement of women's rights. Like Southwold, there is a tale around almost every corner in Aldeburgh, and the images of the Frith photographers take on a special signifi- cance in helping us start to explore and under- stand the history and life of this small town on the edge of the sea.

Memories of Aldeburgh


This little girl could be me! I spent many happy hours playing with my model boat here, while visiting my grandmother, Ruth Knowles from Fawcett Road in the town. What happy memories!

A memory of Aldeburgh by Nina Wilson

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