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From June 2010



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All Saints Bells

Nick Hayward and “Thalatta”

Robin Morgan and Jo Bull Marry

Launch of the Space Shuttle

Joanna Scott-Douglas

Brandeston Farmer and Lion Eggs

Stella Dixon’s 70th

Village Signs

Brandeston’s Snow Plough

A Dunkirk Little Ship


A Dunkirk Little Ship

Michael Aldrich - 14 June 2010

The recent BBC documentary ‘Little Ships of Dunkirk’ was a nice surprise. It featured my old boat ‘Hilfranor’ and brought back memories of the 1990 50th Anniversary re-enactment of Dunkirk rescue.

I saw ‘Hilfranor’ advertised for sale in early 1989. She was in very poor condition. I thought it would be interesting to buy her, make her seaworthy and make the June 1990 trip without spending much money. So I asked our Operations Director to buy  and prepare her. To give him a little incentive I said he would be coming on the trip knowing that he had never been on a small boat in his life. I am not sure whether that was my biggest mistake or was it that I had forgotten his nickname was ‘Mr Perfect?’

I then forgot about ‘Hilfranor’ until 8 or 9 months later he invited Sandy and me to launch ‘Hilfranor’. We went down to a shipyard in Bosham and found that we had hired an eminent Naval Architect months ago and that ‘Hilfranor’ had been rebuilt under his guidance. She was beautiful! She had been transformed from a near-wreck into a swan. All faulty timbers had been replaced, the wheelhouse and cabins had been rebuilt, new diesels with advanced electronic controls had been installed, plus radar, depth sounder, sophisticated R/T, electronic navigation gear and auto-pilot. The wheelhouse was like the cockpit of a 747. The cabins were luxurious.

The galley and bathroom were elegant and fully functional. Externally she looked like the old ‘Hilfranor’ renovated but under the skin she was modern and superbly appointed.

When I got over the shock and asked how much had been spent I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Actually we didn’t know the total cost until sometime after the launch.

On the other hand, this irreplaceable piece of British history had been saved for another 50 years.

After a brief work-up and shakedown cruise, both excellent, ‘Hilfranor’ sailed off to Dover to join the 70+ plus boats preparing for the 50th Anniversary re-enactment at Dover. Weather was good. She was no sea boat but she acquitted herself well in the Channel from Bosham to Dover.

At Dover the fleet was inspected by the Duke of Edinburgh and the skippers were briefed. The Royal Navy was in command. The convoy commander was an Admiral.

RN warships and RNLI lifeboats would accompany the convoy, shepherding us across the Channel and into Dunkirk. Convoy rules were to maintain position no matter what. Convoy speed was 5 knots (the best speed for some of the older boats). ‘Hilfranor’ could make 10-11 knots but it was irrelevant in the convoy. The weather forecast was good with a forecast of sea-state 2/3. We would leave at 0800 hours and allowing for all contingencies arrive at Dunkirk no later than 1800 hours. We had our own dedicated convoy radio channel.

So we set off in good spirits. The Ops Director had hired a professional skipper for the trip. He was taking no chances. The convoy formed-up off Dover. Someone said it was like the Malta convoys to cheer us up. By the time we reached the middle of the Channel and the busy shipping lanes the weather had changed and we were operating in sea-state 4/5. The convoy was in trouble. The river craft like ‘Hilfranor’ had little freeboard so high, rough waves were taking a toll. We were battened down and our new pumps were quickly clearing excess water. We were pitching and rolling but we were still in much better condition than some other convoy boats. The Admiral sounded like Jack Hawkins over the R/T as we watched a helicopter fly over to a neighbouring boat, hover over the stern as the winchman went down to retrieve a casualty injured in the boat’s motion. Up ahead an RNLI lifeboat somehow came alongside another boat and effectively organised a tow later helping the boat to limp into Dunkirk.

Our spirits were lifted momentarily when a lone Spitfire flew the length of the convoy and signed off with a victory roll. Sadly things didn’t improve. The Admiral announced that the ebb current off Dunkirk was running at 5 knots [the speed of the convoy]. For safety reasons he couldn’t split the convoy so we would just have to wait it out. And we did.

We finally crawled into Dunkirk at 2400 hours, very, very tired, 16 hours after leaving Dover by the shortest direct route! In 1940, the little ships had to take a dogleg route to Dunkirk to avoid mines. And they had to dodge the Stukas as best they could. Such a route would have been 12-16 hours and the same again to get home.

Needless to say, Dunkirk was closed. No civic reception. No brass band. We didn’t mind and anyway the French more than made up for it with the welcome the next day.

It was a chastening experience. Ever present in one’s mind was the 1940 ‘Hilfranor’ that had been badly shot up ferrying men from the beaches to larger ships off-shore. This was a small, wooden, river pleasure cruiser with a civilian crew that would still get home across the Channel, damage notwithstanding. The word ‘courage’ doesn’t seem adequate.

We kept ‘Hilfranor’ for a few years then eventually sold her. The Ops Director had fallen in love with her and became the new owner. She was a magnificent boat.
Photos: Michael Aldrich. Top: “Hilfranor” berthed. Other photos show “Hilfranor” being launched after the rebuild (March 1991); “Hilfranor” with some of our children and their spouses as the Thames crew in 1991. In one you can see the mast dismounted for the Upper Thames bridges.

The Brandeston Snow Plough

David Risk - 6 January 2010

Taken last year in warmer months, here are two photos of the village snow plough. It was operated by Ivan Leach for a good many years in Brandeston and Kettleburgh as far as Big Oak corner Easton. It is now resting at Hill House Farm.

Brandeston Village Name Signs

David Risk

Many people today may think that the three village name signs were erected by the County or District Councils but this is in fact wrong. We were among the first to have village signs and they were paid for by the Parish Council and erected by Parish Councillors.

The possibility of obtaining these signs was first discussed by the Parish Council in early 1987 and a sub committee was established to raise funds so that the cost would not come from the Precept. Margaret Diskson organized a Coffee Morning and the sub committee held a stall (with approval) at the Village Fete. There then followed a donation of £50 and the target of £300 was reached. An up-to-date quote was asked for and the signs ordered and delivered for "self erection" at a cost of £239.34.

On 24 July 24 1988, Councillors John Garratt, David Risk and Edwin Stearn erected (assembled dug holes and concreted in) signs near the Priory and Bridge Farm.

However, much discussion took place before the third sign could be erected because Kettleburgh Parish Council refused to allow it to be placed in their Parish! It was finally agreed and allowed that it could be sited on the right hand side of the road AND at a angle (both contrary to highways regulations) on the verge opposite The Forge. So, in June 1990 it was put up by Hector Moore and his assistants under the supervision of Councillor Mary Moore.

About 10 years later all villages had village name signs erected free by the County Council.

Stella Dixon’s 70th Birthday - Cardiff 2009

Photos from Bob Williams

A Brandeston Farmer and Lion Eggs

Two articles from the Daily Mail found by David Risk

David writes: James Sperling was the occupier of the old buildings at the Office Farm where he "kept " his layers in battery cages in the now dilapidated asbestos Arcon sheds.

On the ground where some of the new houses now stand, he bred mink which were mainly fed offal and in the summer created quite a stink and the subject of a good many complaints!!!

He was also in business with Sue Thurlow's father delivering “Seely Sausages” to London with his eggs two or three times a week but that is another story

Farmer v Egg Board Fight Today - Daily Mail 23 March 1965

Mr James Sperling, the Suffolk egg farmer who tried to get the Egg Marketing Board “arrested” in January, is himself a “defendant” in a board disciplinary court today.

He and three other producers will be accused in London of contravening board regulations in disposing of eggs from his 2000 layers at Brandeston. He believes it may be the court to end all board courts.

He said yesterday, “I have been seeking to have this case brought for nine months”.

The case involves two charges: selling eggs other than to the board, and selling unstamped eggs, not directly to consumers. The charges are made against a company of which Mr Sperling is a director. He will be represented by a barrister and will challenge the right of the board to hold the court, and even to exist. Also present will be farmers from other areas who have joined Mr Sperling in collecting signatures for a petition to demand a poll which could abolish the board.

He said, “There are now over 2000 signatures, twice the number required. I do not want to lodge the petition until the Minister of Agriculture reveals his plans for changing egg marketing procedure, but it may be difficult to dissuade some of our supporters from taking immediate action.”

Farmer James Tames Little Lion - Daily Mail 24 March 1965

Farmer James Sperling yesterday smashed the grip of the Egg Marketing Board on the nation’s egg sales. A charge of breaking the “Little Lion” rules by selling unstamped eggs was dismissed by one of the board’s own courts.

Afterwards Mr Sperling said, “We have broken the board’s monopoly. It is a limited victory.” And he made an offer to other egg producers, “We are prepared to give advice absolutely free to anyone who wants to know how to do it.”

Board leaders now have to devise new rules to plug the Sperling loophole before too many of their 9,000 million eggs a year slip through it.

Mr Sperling with 6,000 layers at Brandeston, Suffolk is to continue his “Little Lion-taming” plan which gives him on average nearly 1s a dozen more for his eggs. When all his birds are laying, this will mean a margin of about £100 a week and 300 dozen large eggs a day will go out from his farm.

Part of his plan was described yesterday. The hens are owned by one company of which he is controlling director. This company Hillcorse is registered with the board and sells about half the total output direct to the consumers, which is allowed. The other half is given away - not sold - to another company, Yes Laboratories, of which Mr Sperling is also director, though the majority of shares are held by Hillcorse. Yes Laboratories sells the eggs to shops where they are sold unstamped to housewives.

The board has powers only over producers and is unable to act against Yes Laboratories.

Under an earlier plan devised by Mr Sperling, retailers were given eggs free on the condition that they bought from Yes Laboratories booklets worth about 2d but costing 12s 6d. This scheme was dropped in favour of the latter, more efficient one.

Mr Sperling still has one secret - the method by which one company can give eggs to the other without going bankrupt but he is willing to share it with farmers who want to join him in beating the board.

Boots or Bags

Joanna Scott-Douglas

Why would a folk-pop duo come over from Germany to play their self composed songs in the Village Hall in Brandeston?

“Stranger things have happened,” could be one answer but a more interesting one is that after years of sailing round half the world in a boat and living in the south of France for a bit, Patience Scott Douglas (my mum) and Bob Tipper came to settle in Brandeston.

In her new life in Brandeston, Patience has found her true vocation in helping to organise fund raising events.

On one of my visits to Brandeston, I watched some of the village hall being built and the next time saw it complete and agreed with mum that it would be a great place for a concert. When “Boots or Bags” came out with their new CD earlier this year it was decided that we should go ahead.

Patience is also involved in the Mid-Suffolk Driving for the Disabled which is the organisation which gets together once a week and enables disabled people to actively take hold of the reins and drive the horses around the lanes of Suffolk. This obviously could not be done without the support of the many volunteers and they are always grateful for fund raising activities.

For this reason, on 15th August 2009 “Boots or Bags” will be playing and presenting their new album at the Brandeston Village Hall at what promises to be a very special and “unforgettable evening” with food, drinks and raffle.

Tickets ₤10.00 from Patience on  01728 685996 or timsd@uwclub.net.

More information on Boots or Bags can be found on their site: www.bootsorbags.de. The poster for the concert in Brandeston can be seen here.

Brandeston People at the Launch of the Space Shuttle

11 May 2009

Former Brandeston residents Bill and Kathy Dempsey were at the launch the latest space shuttle from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The shuttle Atlantis was on a mission to repair the Hubble telescope. After a long wait for takeoff, Bill (pictured centre above) said, “It was quite a thrill for a few seconds but well worth the wait and the heat!”

It was a historic event in that two shuttles were poised to launch at the same time. The Endeavor is standing by in case a rescue of the Atlantis crew is needed. Some photos of the launch are available here.

Robin Morgan and Joanne Bull Marry - 7 February 2009

Despite snow problems on the M25, the Severn Bridge, Edinburgh airport and many other places, guests for the wedding of Robin Morgan, formerly of The Street, Brandeston and Joanne Bull, the daughter of Laurie and Helen Bull from Bearsted near Maidstone in Kent, all arrived safely in Reading on 7 February, 2009.

The wedding took place in the elegant Victoria Hall of Reading Town Hall which dates from the C18. The bride, wearing a gorgeous ivory taffeta dress overlaid with net and embroidered with small pearls and crystals, entered to Satie’s Gymnopedies  played on the room’s grand piano. Jo’s sister, Elaine, and Jo, her friend since primary school were her bridesmaids.

Robin’s best man was his school friend, Jon Thorne from Friday Street, who flew in from Edinburgh to look after him on the day and also the previous evening when the two of them, along with their Thomas Mills and college friends, went out for dinner.

Following a few glasses of champagne immediately after the ceremony, and a serious shower of confetti that the Town Hall staff were happy to clear up, we all moved to the excellent “Bel and the Dragon” restaurant, hired in its entirety for the reception and occupying a converted riverside warehouse, for more champagne, canapés and a superb dinner served by the restaurant’s able and willing staff. Everyone was delighted with having three grans at the wedding - both Jo’s (Helen and Molly) and Robin’s grandmother, Sheila. All three enjoyed the day and joined in the dancing in their own ways.

Talking of dancing, the moment Robin was dreading and, incidentally, the moment all his friends and family were looking forward to, was his first dance with his new wife. Robin doesn’t do dancing; he has never been known to show off his moves on the dance floor. In fact, he is not known to have any moves. So, when it was time for the newlyweds to step out, all eyes, for the first time that day, were on Rob. Jo swayed silkily to the music; Rob put in a John Sergeant of a gallant effort, admired by his friends and family for being courageous rather than seminal.

It was a good day for the Bull and Morgan families and delightful to see Rob and Jo surrounded by their relatives and supportive friends from school and university.

They are spending their honeymoon in Thailand before returning to their home in Reading.

Robin and Jo with Darryl and Pat (above left)

and with Laurie and Helen (above). All photos: STM

More photos from Robin and Jo’s wedding can be seen here.

Nick Hayward and the Sailing Barge “Thalatta”

In 2007, Nick sent an article to the web site about the sailing barge “Thalatta” which he is involved in restoring. We now have an update on progress and an appeal for support in the sailing barge’s centenary. Full details on how you can help the project are contained in the article.

Nick Hayward’s progress report on the restoration of “Thalatta”.

The photo shows the barge about to sail under the Orwell bridge in September 2005.

The All Saints’ Bells

David Risk found this extract from an old Parish Magazine after Peter Arbon brought the photograph below to a Coffee Morning last year. Does anyone have any further information?

Brandeston w Kettleburgh. October 1950

1 Oct. Trinity XV11.    Harvest Thanksgiving.

8  ‘’   Trinity XV111.   (H.C.Kettleburgh 11 a.m.)

18 ‘’   St Luke A.E.

28   ‘’  S.S.Simon and Jude AM.MM

31   ‘’  All Hallows Eve.


Harvest Services.

    Kettleburgh, Thursday, 28th Sept. 7 p.m.

      Preacher, Canon J. Chapman

      Sunday, 1st Oct. 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.

    Brandeston. 1st Oct. 8 A.m. & 6.30 p.m.

        Preacher, Rev. M. Meynall.

Gifts for the decoration of the church will after the services be given to the hospital.


     Bell Fund. Acknowledged. £896. 12. 8d.

     Sale of Wood        ... ....         6.    -.  -d.

     H. Moore .... ,   .....                1     -.  -d.

     Framlingham College

     (2nd contribution) ..               20.    -.  -d.

         Total to date  -              £923. 12. 8d.

The Bishop has promised to come and bless the bells before they go into regular service. This will be either at the end of October or the beginning of November. Invitations will be sent to all subscribers to the fund as soon as we know the exact date.

A band of ringers is being gradually formed, and we hope in due course to learn the interesting art of change ringing. In olden times Brandeston men were among the foremost of change ringers in Suffolk.

All in the neighbourhood show deep sympathy with Mr. David Risk and his four young sons when on 31 at August, Mrs. Risk, after her long illness of' 6 years fell quietly upon sleep. She had borne her gradual decline uncomplainingly and with extraordinary fortitude. May she rest in peace.

Christening at Brandeston on 3rd September.

    Joan Elizabeth, d. of Maurice & Nancy Adams.

Funeral at Brandeston on 2nd September.

    Muriel Joan Risk, aged 37.

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