“Halesworth Street Names and Places” by Derek Newby
On sale now at the Museum, Halesworth Book Shop and Halesworth Library. £7.95. Order from the Museum for postal delivery
“People kept on asking me, so I thought I’d better set to and write it all down”
That’s what drove 92-year old Derek Newby of Back Road, Wenhaston, to publish ‘Halesworth Street and Place Names’, a new book which goes on sale this week.
There are few people better equipped to hunt out and tell the stories that lie behind the 129 names that fill the book. Born in the Thoroughfare in 1924, Derek was the son of another keen recorder of Halesworth life, James ‘Jimmy’ Newby, Congregational lay-preacher and journalist, who wrote, among other works, the history of the Patrick Stead Hospital. Apart from war-time service, Derek has spent his whole life locally and his memory of people, events and the changing face of the town stretches back across nine decades. Many of the streets whose names he explores in this book did not exist in his childhood and, during his years after the War, working for the building contractors, Comben & Wakeling, he saw many new street names considered and adopted.
Some names are more obvious than others. Lansbury Road owes its names to a celebrated politican, Durban Close to a famous soldier and diplomat who also gave his name to the South African port. Others are less obvious. The Basley Playing Fields on Bramfield Road bring together the names of a former Town Clerk and Town Surveyor and Sparrowhawk Road has surprisingly little to do with birds.
With over 112 pages, illustrated with over sixty historical and modern images, the book has taken well over two years to compile, but a lifetime of memories have gone into it. Derek was eager to produce more than just a reference book. Why would you once have found a heavy metal chain with a large tin disc hanging round the Market Square pump? Who had a telephone exchange in their front room and where? Who first introduced milk bottles to Halesworth? The answers are all in the book.
One detailed entry recalls the birth and development of the town’s museum, which Derek has supported and championed from the start. The proceeds from the sale of his book have been given over to the Halesworth and District Museum, a gesture which Museum Chair, Pauline Wilcock, describes as ‘an extremely generous gesture which has turned Derek’s incomparable memories into a practical way of supporting in the future the Halesworth history about which he cares so much’.
‘Halesworth Street and Place Names’ will be on sale from Saturday 4 February at a price of £7.99. It will be available from the Halesworth Book Shop, Halesworth Library, Halesworth and District Museum and other outlets in the area.