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
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
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
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.
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