Although it may seem an unnecessary announcement, it is fair to say Trimley St. Martin is experiencing significant changes in 2019. Some changes, such as the new Footpath and Bridleway Bridge are manifestly apparent, not least because of their size. Other changes take place slowly and over a lengthier period of time. The village has evolved with increasing ferocity since the middle of the twentieth century. The loss of buildings or structural alterations to well-established houses occurs in such a piecemeal fashion it may be difficult to remember just when the change occurred. Many earlier local images have been well recorded in the series of books written by Phil Hadwen, John Smith, Ray Twidale, Peter White and Neil Wylie. The coverage of these excellent books is extensive and provides a fascinating insight into our local area.
It may therefore seem unnecessary to look much further than these books but curiosity impels us all and I am no exception to the rule. In the last few months I came across three small, separate caches of pre-Second World War images: some of which are instantly recognisable, whilst others test the memory. It may be others can recall the placement of the photographs and by publishing these images, I throw down the gauntlet of identification for anyone to pick up.
The first group of three photographs were developed in the studios of C. Emeny and Son of Walton and Felixstowe in 1905. It is slightly inaccurate to describe them as photographs because they are stereoscopic views, whereby two almost identical images are reproduced side by side. When viewed through a stereoscopic viewer, the images merge and assume a three dimensional appearance. The first view is as follows:
Image 1. Trimley, 1905
Image 2. The track leading to Trimley Shore, February 26th 2019
‘Trimley 1905’ is handwritten on the side of the card. Leaning against a stile, a group of six children ingenuously gaze at the camera lens. The trees in the far distance display skeletal branches. Further beyond them, barely visible, a slightly thicker, darker line underscores a clear sky. The boy has pulled himself up to his full height, the girls are dressed in dazzling white aprons, looking for all the world like escapees from H.R. Millar’s illustrations of Nesbit’s ‘The Five Children and It’, although maybe their pose suggests slightly less adventurousness.
Image 3. H.R Millar’s illustration of the five children from ‘The Five Children and It’ by E. Nesbit, published 1902
With the possible exception of the smallest child, these are children of the Eighteen Nineties and at a conservative estimate, would all be at least a hundred and twenty years old if they were alive today.
Image 4. The children from the photograph
The location of this photograph is probably familiar to many people. Earlier this year, I stood at the back of the barn on Goslings Farm and viewed the wide track leading towards the river. The stile and hedge are long gone, possibly ploughed up during the nineteen fifties or sixties when field hedges were removed and the farming landscape presented itself in a prairie like manner. (Rosemary Gitsham once told me she remembered walking to the Shore as a child, alongside a hedge of abundant wild roses.) The twenty nineteen image looks strikingly familiar. The trees are leafless, as in the 1905 photograph. The nineteen sixties trout lake adjacent to the river, is a small blue speck amongst the trees but the same far horizon allows a glimpse of the parishes of Shotley and Chelmondiston. The shadows fall at almost the same angle suggesting the 1905 image was taken at about one o’clock, as was the modern picture.
A second 1905 stereographic photograph is conveniently labelled Slaughden Cliff Lane:
Image 5. Sleighton Hill, Trimley St. Martin
Image 6. The track from Trimley Shore, leading to Thorpe Lane, February 26th 2019, 1.15 p.m.
This is a slightly less memorable landscape and therefore harder to identify but I suspect Emeny may have misspelled Sleighton Hill as Slaughden. Slaughden is the long shingle spit of land south of Aldeburgh and bears no resemblance to the image above. The trees appear to be more in leaf than those in the first photograph. In both photographs there is a slight kink to the track as it nears the brow of the hill. When compared with a contemporary image, the slight upward rise of the track has many similarities to the one leading from Trimley Shore to Thorpe Lane and it seems possible this could be the location of the 1905 photograph.
The second cache of photographs date from Easter 1930, one of the years when Easter Day arrived comparatively late as it fell on 20th April. The British population may have been hoping this would give good weather more of a chance to prevail but this was not the case. On Easter Sunday, the newspaper, ‘The People’ advised its readers the weather outlook was bleak:
‘There seems no hope for holiday makers this Easter. They are condemned to snow, sleet, hail, cold winds and the mildest cold showers. Yesterday snow came as far south as Hampshire, Kent and London…But in spite of the dismal outlook, holiday crowds – with collars turned up – lined the platforms at the main London stations yesterday, determined to get a glimpse of the sea or countryside.’
The photographs were dated by the unknown photographer. Who he was, if indeed it was a he, remains a mystery. The photos were part of a larger collection of the Photographer’s Tour of East Anglia and were sold separately to the bulk of the collection. They arrived in no particular order and although two views are immediately recognisable, the others are harder to identify. One thing you may notice when comparing the old and contemporary images is the absence of telegraph and electricity cables although this is not true of Image 7.
Image 7. Outside Trimley St. Mary Church. Easter 1930
Image 8. Outside Trimley St. Mary Church, 3rd June 2019
Using the angle of the shadows as a guide, I believe the first image was taken in the morning, maybe between nine and ten in the morning. (British Summer Time was in operation by 1930, having been introduced in 1916.)
A horse waits patiently outside The Mariners, where the life belt sign announces the pub’s presence to the World. In the far distance, a car may be seen advancing down the High Road, passing by still extant houses and Post Office. A slim weather vane sits aloft on St. Martin’s Church roof. Is this the same one donated by Samuel Kilderbee in the late 1700s? On the opposite side of the road, the currently named Shoemaker’s Cottage is entirely obscured. The buildings immediately next to The Mariners have now been demolished. The scene is entirely peaceful and only one other human is visible as he stands almost opposite the entry to Church Lane. Perhaps it was Easter Sunday and all the villagers were in Church? Apart from the solitary motor car the photo represents a timeless Trimley especially when compared with the photograph taken in 2019. The proliferation of traffic and parked cars obscure the scene.
Image 9. High Road? Trimley. Easter 1930
The second 1930 photographic image tugs annoyingly at my memory, which refuses to place the location. To the left of the image an aged brick wall slopes gently towards the road in the direction of two houses, both with two chimney stacks. The one in the foreground has a dormer window with two shuttered windows beneath. Using the angle of the shadows as rough timepiece and if this photograph was taken in the same time frame as the first, then the camera is pointing towards Felixstowe. The presence of the pavements strongly infers this is on the High Road. Perhaps the two mature trees in the centre of the image may be a possible guide to the location of this photograph. For the time being, the scene remains unlocated.
Image 10 Mill Lane, Trimley St. Martin. Easter 1930
Image 11. Mill Lane, Trimley St. Martin. 6th June 2019
Again, the third photo in this small collection looks familiar. Using the 1926 Ordnance Survey map to view Mill Lane, it is possible to locate a house set at an angle with 16 Council Houses in the distance located in Old Kirton Road, then called Drab’s Lane. The house stills stands with its distinctive Gambrel or Dutch Roof although the shape is less obvious today. The angle of the shadows suggest it may have been midday or later. When compared with a contemporary image, the furthest house is Treacle Pot Cottage. The one immediately next to it has may have been significantly altered or demolished. The gateway is roughly where Brick Kiln Court now stands. If you look to the right of the road, just passed the gate, you may see a thick streak of white. Perhaps this was one of the late falls of snow forecast in ‘The People’. My regular correspondent, Robin Biddle tells me the original house was demolished about ten years ago, prior to the building of the house in Image 11.
Image 12. The Unknown Tourist outside the Hand in Hand
Image 13. Outside The Hand in Hand, 3rd June 2019
Image 12 is immediately identifiable as being outside The Hand in Hand although the Pub itself isn’t visible. As the road curves around, opposite Mill Lane, the two old wooden houses are visible. In the background a wall-sized advertisement promotes the business of G.W K. Giles, local builder, while to the left a man looks disinterestedly towards Ipswich. Is he waiting for bus? The subject of the photograph stands in front of a large post, smiling at the camera with his walking stick tucked under his arm and a camera case slung over it. In his right hand he holds a cigarette. As ‘The People’ predicted, it was ‘collars up’ for our man. He wears a warm coat with leather gloves and as was the convention of the time a black hat sits firmly on his head. Is this the Photographer posing for his own photo? I would like to think it is. The bright sunshine of the morning appears to have gone. No shadows appear on the compounded earth ground and although it is not easy to be certain, the skies now appear to be overcast. Image 13 taken very recently presents a greatly altered appearance. The Hand is now fenced in, a road runs to High Hall Close, the wall has been white-washed and Giles’ advertisement has gone. Cars are parked and cables loop across the sky.
Image 14. Trimley. April 1930
Image 14, the final photograph from this collection is by far the hardest to locate. Two houses stand joined together. A crooked flue emerges from the chimney. A small group composed of two young children and a woman holding on to a perambulator faces the camera. Presumably there is a baby inside the pram but who can say for certain? In the distance a house with a gambrel roof stands obscured by the wooden hut structure. The white gate to the house is highly reminiscent of the railway gates at the pedestrian crossings. If these buildings sit next to the railway line, all that may be deduced is that it is not the Grimston Lane or Thorpe Lane Gatehouses. Maybe the white gate is a false clue. Who were the children and young woman?
Image 15 Reverse of photograph of a ‘Farm in Trimley’.
Image 16. ‘Farm at Trimley 15th August 1939′
Image 17. The view and approach to Grimston Hall from the adjacent field. 3rd June 2019
Image 18. Grimston Hall, 3rd June 2019
The final photograph was taken on the eve of the Second World War. It lacks the clarity of those of 1905 and 1930. On the back someone has written ‘Farm at Trimley 15.8. 39’. The handwriting looks old-fashioned even for eighty years ago. No other information is supplied and it is a process of elimination to guess which farm house it might be. I speculate it may be Grimston Hall, when viewed alongside with a contemporary photograph.
Although the avenue of trees is greatly altered it does suggest the comparison is not idle. The Farm House has a chimney stack to the left and there are three windows and a door in close proximity. The front porch on Grimston Hall was not there in 1939 as it was added during the late nineteen eighties. The large field from which the older photograph was taken matches with that of twenty nineteen. But this is not positive proof.
Everything changes, everything stays the same. The Mariners in St. Mary’s, the Hand in Hand in St. Martins, Sleighton Hill and Trimley Shore are still recognisably themselves. Other views have been absorbed and altered to fit contemporary society. These are my speculations and I am open to any considerations or comments from others. In particular I welcome any thoughts about Image 14 and its location.
If you have any comments or would like to be part of the Trimley St. Martin project, please contact me at:
Felixstowe: more views from the past. (comp.) Hadwen, Phil. Twidale, Ray and White, Peter. 1986
Felixstowe from old photographs: 100 years a seaside resort. Hadwen, Phil. Smith, John Twidale, Ray. White, Peter and Wylie, Neil. 1991
Village Life in and around Felixstowe. Smith, John 2003
Other titles may be found in Suffolk Libraries online catalogue: http://tinyurl.com/y667jw4v
 British Newspaper Archive. The People 20th April 1930. “Collars turned up.”