Press Releases

May 2013 – Displays


Now’s the time when the Halesworth and District Museum, up at the Railway Station, bursts back into summer life. So now you have a chance to catch up with what Mike Fordham, our Curator, has been up to, assembling the new 2013 displays.

You’ll find two new subjects this year. ‘Dairying in Halesworth’ takes the story of dairying through from the days when most cottages would have their own butter churn and access to fresh milk from a local cow, through to the time when the United Dairies had their big production plant up by the Railway Station.

‘Toys and Comics of Yesteryear’ features a range of toys which have been donated, over the years, to the Museum’s collections, from Victorian jigsaw puzzles to Dinky toys, via toy trains and dolls. An ideal (and free!) outing on your doorstep for the kids during the summer holidays.

Our summer opening hours are now in operation, so come and see us between 10.00 and 12.30 any day between Tuesday and Saturday. Admission is still free.

And when you’ve done all that, there’s still more. In the Gallery at the Library is another free display, this time of farming photos from the 1920s, the time when celebrated artist Harry Becker was living and painting in Wenhaston. The Museum has been pleased to play its part in supporting the recent series of events and concerts by the Halesworth Community Choir, all celebrating the life of Becker.

April 2013


Summer? Remember it? It seems so far away. The dictionary definition is ‘The second and warmest season of the year, coming between spring and autumn’. What happens if you didn’t have a spring?

Incredibly, we’re only a few weeks away from the Halesworth and District Museum’s summer-opening period, bringing with it longer opening hours and new displays. With an enthusiastic group of new volunteers to back up our service and with the encouraging knowledge that last year more than twice as many people visited our displays and events in the Museum and the Library, we’re keen to offer as much ‘open time’ as we can. So we’ll be open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10.00 to 12.30. And in the longer term we’d like to get back to some afternoon openings as well.

This year, Curator Mike Fordham is setting up two new displays. One will describe the intriguing story of dairy production – milk, butter and cheese – in our area, through from farmhouse activity to the heyday of the United Dairies plant in Bungay Road, which overlooked the railway station until its closure in 1968.

Elsewhere, and with children of every age in mind, there will be a display of toys and comics of yesteryear from the Museum’s collections, a chance to come along and reminisce with us or, if you’re very young, to be amazed at what kept us amused in the days before Atari, XBoxes and Wii.

The Museum’s summer season up at the Railway Station starts on 1 May. Come and see us. And don’t forget: if you can’t get there in normal opening hours, you can always ring Mike Fordham to try to arrange a special visit.

February 2013


Community News February 2013


Have you still got an Abba song running through your head?  Do you still get hot under the collar about the 3-Day Week or the Winter of Discontent?

Then you remember the 1970s and you may have something to contribute to this year’s Big Museum Venture: ‘Halesworth in the 1970s’. We’re going to try to recapture a bit of the spirit of that time and awaken a lot of slumbering memories. Do you remember where you were at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee? Can you remember the death of Elvis? Or the day our first woman Prime Minister arrived at No. 10? Were you one of the lucky ones who got the first of the newly invented VCRs? Or a Sony Walkman? Even, perhaps, one of those brick-sized mobile phones?

Or maybe you were still playing with your Space Hopper and wishing you could get a Commodore PET or an Atari for Christmas, play Space Invaders or show off a brand-new digital watch at school. You young-uns can tell us a lot about growing up in the 1970s.

The 70s Project will kick off in earnest in the late summer and run for a year, during which time we’ll be staging 70s events and displays and capturing memories of that hectic decade, both from people who were in the area at the time and from those who have strong recollections of what they were doing elsewhere.

But in the meantime, watch this space and get digging at the back of the bottom drawer for those old flares you’ve never got round to throwing away or those hot pants you can’t quite squeeze into anymore, and especially those photos of you in your platforms or your sideburns. ‘Saturday Night Fever’ is returning to town!

For further details or to take part, contact Vic Gray at the Halesworth and District Museum, 01986 872437,

January 2013


Community News January 2013


We’ve had our brief pause for turkey and a mince pie and we’re off again, up at the Museum.

2012 left us smiling (perhaps a little wearily). We’d staged an exhibition for the Jubilee and another on Policing in Halesworth – our first winter exhibition. We’d sold out two editions of Mike Fordham’s book on the Blyth Navigation. We’d brought the town together in celebrating Halesworth’s Sporting Past. We’d packed out The Cut for a lecture on the newly discovered ‘Halesworth hero’, Thomas Fella. We’d raised funds, with the help of local people, to buy the fabulous Wissett Bronze Age hoards. We’d found ourselves some terrific new volunteers, doubling the number who are now helping out with all our activities. And, best of all, you’d rewarded us by showing up at our events and contacting us at almost three times the level of the previous year, while many other museums are watching numbers decline.

Now for 2013. Encouraged by your support and enthusiasm, we’re planning two new summer displays in the Museum: one on Toys of Yesteryear, the other on Dairying in the Halesworth area. We’re hoping to launch a series of history talks, open to anyone with an interest in the past. We’re going to publish a new book of Victorian photographs of Halesworth. We plan to put the Wissett Hoard on display once it’s been properly conserved. And, late in the summer we’re going to launch a big new project  on the 1970s, involving us in displaying lots of photographs and objects gathered from local people and interviewing people about local life in the Age of Abba, the 3-Day Week, Evel Knievel, ‘The Good Life’, Flares and Loons. So dust off your platforms, climb aboard your Space Hopper and come and join us. Who says museums are just bones and dust!

December 2012


Community News December 2012


December 2012


With the future of policing very much in the news at the moment, you might be interested to learn a bit more about how things have been done in the past.

Did you know there was a time when Halesworth had at least four police officers stationed  (and living) in the town? Did you know that for a few brief years, Halesworth had two policing systems operating in the town at the same time? Have you heard of the time when the Riot Act had to be read and troops called out to stop an angry protest march in the town? Do you know which Chief Constable in Suffolk ended up in gaol? Do you know how many different police stations there were in Victorian Halesworth? Can you tell us where all of them were? Or how many of them are still standing?

If you scored poorly in this little quiz, then you might like to brush up your knowledge by calling in on the special exhibition ‘Policing Victorian Halesworth’ which is on at the Halesworth and District Museum in the Railway Station until 15 December. It’s open, free, Tuesdays to Saturdays, between 10.00 and 12.30.

One important focus of the exhibition is a series of exhibits relating to the murder of Police Constable Ebenezer Tye in Chediston Street on 25 November 1862 – exactly 150 years ago. Just 24 years old, Tye had only been stationed in the town 18 months when he was beaten to death while trying to apprehend a burglar. In tribute to him, the Suffolk Police Museum has specially loaned these exhibits, which were carefully preserved after the trial of Tye’s murderer. A century and a half later they are as poignant as ever.

The Museum has usually gone over to its reduced winter hours by now but, for the first time ever and thanks to the willingness of our keen team of volunteers, we are rolling back the winter to mark this anniversary appropriately.

Finally, the Chariman and Trustees of the Museum would like to say a special merry Christmas to all those volunteers and Friends who have made possible one of the most successful years in the history of the Museum, a year in which the number of people visiting the Museum and its exhibitions has nearly trebled! Speaking of which – a very happy Christmas to all of them too!

November 2012


Community News November 2012


By the time this edition of Community News appears, the Wissett Hoard will be back in our part of the world. On 26 October, Museum Curator, Mike Fordham, and Treasurer, Brian Holmes, will at long last collect from the British Museum the two groups of Bronze Age axe heads, spears and rapier blades discovered last year by metal-detectors in a field at Wissett.

All this has been made possible by the generosity of local donors to the Museum’s Save The Hoard Campaign. Once the fifteen objects, all over three thousand years old, have been received at the Museum they will be prepared for the delicate and highly skilled conservation work which will be necessary before they can be displayed in the Museum next year.

There is still a need of further funding to cover the cost of this essential work and if you would like to be associated with the task of ensuring that this precious treasure is preserved for ever for us and for future generations, please get in touch with the Campaign Manager, Brian Howard.


Early on the morning of 25 November 1862 –150 years ago this month – 24-year old Police Constable Ebenezer Tye was positioned in Chediston Street. He was there to keep an eye on a suspected local burglar, John Ducker, who was thought to have been conducting early morning raids on local properties. When Ducker appeared, he was carrying a suspicious-looking bundle and Tye went to question him. There were shouts and then a scuffle broke out and Tye was chased to the reed beds down beside the river at the back of Chediston Street.

Later that morning, when the alarm had been raised after Tye failed to return to the police station, a search was made. His body was found in the river. He had been cudgeled to death. Ducker was subsequently caught, charged and was tried for murder. He was sentenced to death.

To mark this sombre occasion and in honour of P.C. Tye and all his colleagues past and present, who put their own safety at threat in the course of their duties, Halesworth and District Museum will be breaking with its usual tradition of limited winter opening in order to stage, with the collaboration of the Suffolk Police Museum, a small exhibition on policing in Victorian Halesworth. This will feature some of the material associated with the crime described here. The display will run from 27 November to 15 December and will be open from 10.00 – 12.30, from Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free.



A precious group of fifteen bronze tools and weapons which lay hidden beneath the ground in Wissett for thousands of years has been returned to the area to form the centrepiece of new displays at the Halesworth and District Museum.

One of the two hoards was discovered last year by enthusiasts using metal detectors in fields around the village and were handed over to local archaeologists for identification. The second hoard was excavated fully by the County Archaeological Team and careful expert examination of the objects has shown them to be over three thousand years old, dating to the Middle Bronze Age (c.1500-1150BC).

Museum Curator Mike Fordham points out that it is most unusual to find two hoards so close together and the evidence, from the identical alloy used in both, is that they are both of the same period. Evidence of Bronze Age people in this area, away from the easier land around the coast and rivers, has so far proved hard to find. “This is certainly the most important local find of its kind for decades,” say Mike.

The Hoards were purchased by the Museum after receiving a grant from the Arts Council and an appeal to local residents for funds to raise the £14,000 needed to buy, conserve and display the objects properly. To date over half the sum has been donated, covering the £4,300 needed to acquire the Hoards and to enable conservation work to start. Brian Howard, the Museum’s Treasurer and Campaign Manager for the Wissett Hoards is still eager to encourage local donations. “Despite such a magnificent response from local people, we still need help to put us in a position to show off this magnificent new material to this and future generations,” he says. Plans include an educational brochure and the production of replicas which can be handled by children as part of the educational programme surrounding the Hoards. Anyone wishing to make a contribution or offer help, should contact Brian Howard.

The Hoards are expected to go on display in the Museum next year.

For further information on the Campaign contact Brian Howard:.

For further information on the Hoard, contact the Museum Curator, Mike Fordham.

September 2012


Community News September 2012


It’s a big month for thank yous from the Museum.

First, and most important, the big news this month is that, thanks to the efforts and generosity of local people and several substantial grants, we are now in a position to go ahead with the purchase for the Museum of the two Bronze Age hoards recently unearthed in Wissett. It is going to be really exciting to bring them back to the area. We haven’t finished yet, however. We are still trying to raise enough money to preserve them properly and to put them on display in a way that will bring out their meaning and significance and at the same time be exciting for local people –and in particular local children. So there’s still need for some more local cash if you’re disposed to help. Just contact the Campaign Manager, Brian Howard.

Very many thanks also to everyone who has been to see our exhibition ‘Sporting Halesworth’, which closed on 2 September after its five-week run in the Library. We’ve received many helpful, kind and encouraging comments. Our particular thanks also to the staff at the Library who have been keen to encourage this further link with the Museum.

It’s been a good month for gifts to the Museum. We received a fascinating little book belonging to Gorge Dipson of Westhall, who used it first for his school calculations and then, much later, from 1870, for his farm accounts, giving lots of fine detail about farming at the time in the area. Then we received a beautiful Victorian watch movement bearing the engraved name of the watchmaker, the grandly christened Nelson Wellington Newson, who was a watchmaker at 13 The Thoroughfare, from 1858 to 1902.

Another fine gift was a silver cup awarded in 1931 to Mrs Gwendoline Youngman (née Rumsey) when she won the Hospital Dance Waltz Competition, put on in aid of the Patrick Stead Hospital. It’s yet another reminder of how large a part the Hospital has played in the life of the town, with so many social and sporting events staged over the years in its name.

Finally, don’t forget there’s still time, before the memory fades, to see the Museum’s Jubilee Year exhibition on Halesworth’s past celebrations of royal Jubilees and Coronations. Until the end of September we’re open up at the Station, Tues.-Sat. 10.00-12.30.

August 2012


Community News August 2012


Halesworth and District Museum’s attempt to raise enough funds to save a newly discovered local treasure have got off to a good start. Thanks to a number of generous local donations there is hope that the Museum can prevent the sale and loss to the area of the Wissett Hoards, two groups of Bronze Age axe heads, spears and rapier blades discovered last year by metal-detectors in a field at Wissett, where they had lain for over three thousand years.

The project has received a major boost with the news that the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has recognized the importance of the bid and made a substantial grant of £2,000 towards the cost of securing the treasure for local display. The Museum has plans to make the Hoards the centre of a new local educational initiative around the history of the Blyth Valley before the arrival of the Romans.

Brian Howard, the Museum’s Treasurer and the Rescue Campaign Leader is cautiously optimistic but stresses that more help is needed from the local community before we can be sure that the rescue bid has worked. The deadline for meeting the purchase price is mid-September.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution or offer help, should contact Brian Howard .


The public response to Halesworth Museum’s appeal for mementoes of Halesworth’s sporting past has been so great that the Museum has had to admit it’s too small to do it justice. “A fantastic effort on the part of the Halesworth community”, is how Halesworth and District Museum Chairman, Brian Holmes describes ‘Sporting Halesworth’ the Museum’s new display which had to be moved to a larger space and opened in the Gallery of Halesworth Library on 27 July, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. The exhibition brings together nearly 200 photographs and objects which have mostly been lent or contributed for the occasion by individuals and clubs in the town.

Made possible by a grant from Suffolk County Council’s ‘Suffolk Celebrates 2012’ fund, the exhibition tells the story of sport in Halesworth, past and present. In the course of preparing the display, some surprising new facts have emerged. Old field names, for example, show that once bull-baiting was practiced in the fields behind Chediston Street and there is a tantalizing glimpse of horse-racing taking place off the Holton Road. The Halesworth Angels Bowls Club can boast of being well over 200 years old and Halesworth Town Football Club is this year celebrating its 125th birthday.

In its section on Halesworth’s Sporting Heroes, the exhibition highlights fourteen townsmen and women who have made their mark at county, national and international level or who have made significant contributions to sport in the town. They include national champions at bowls, darts, swimming, weightlifting, an Olympic race-walker and one World Champion. But, alongside these, there are many reminders of ordinary people enjoying their sport, week in and week out. There are many faces which people will recognize and many memories to be enjoyed.

With all eyes set on the future in the shape of a new Campus Sporting Complex, the exhibition gives the town a chance to look back at previous efforts to provide sporting facilities for the town. Many Halesworth people over many generations have given generously of their time and money to create spaces for people to play and compete in. Sport has brought them together to enjoy themselves and enjoy each other’s company. It has helped bind the town together and it is only right that we should celebrate what they have achieved. It’s a great story and one the town should be proud of in this Olympic year.

The exhibition continues during Library opening hours until 2 September.

George Coleman, Halesworth resident and race-walker (No. 10 in the picture), at the start of the 20km. road walk in the Melbourne Olympics, 1956
George Coleman, Halesworth resident and race-walker (No. 10 in the picture), at the start of the 20 km. road walk in the Melbourne Olympics, 1956

For further details, contact: Vic Gray, Publicity Officer, Halesworth and District Museum.

July 2012


Community News July 2012


It’s ‘On Your Marks’ for the Halesworth and District Museum’s response to the Olympics. ‘Halesworth’s Sporting Past’ will be an exhibition tracing the history of sporting activity in the town over the past two centuries – and a very rich pattern of activities that is proving to be.

The exhibition will open on the same day as the Olympics, Friday 27 July, and will run through to the end of August. It will be staged in the Gallery of Halesworth Library and will be open, free of charge, during Library opening hours.

There are still some notable gaps that the organizers are trying to plug. If you have any photographs taken at the late-lamented swimming pool on Dairy Hill, we’d love to hear from you. Or what about the Squash Courts in the Leisure Centre at the George Maltings? And there is still (but only just!) time to nominate your Halesworth Sporting Hero, but you’ll have to be quick. Contact Vic Gray.

Meanwhile the Museum has had a very busy month. Our stand at the Jubilee Celebrations in St Mary’s Church drew much attention with its account of celebrations past, and helped us play our part in marking the occasion. The lecture on Thomas Fella, the newly discovered Elizabethan draper and writing-master from Halesworth, drew a large and very appreciative audience. Don’t forget, if you couldn’t get there, that the new book of Thomas Fella’s drawings, edited by John Blatchly and Martin Sanford, is now on sale at the Halesworth Bookshop.


Halesworth Modern School sports day 1965.
Halesworth Modern School sports day 1965.

June 2012


Community News June 2012


As the Olympic countdown gathers speed, so things are hotting up at the Halesworth and District Museum in preparation for the community exhibition Sporting Halesworth. Over the last few months local groups, clubs and individuals have been co-operating in putting together an intriguing display of photographs, trophies and memorabilia to record the story of how Halesworth has kicked and jumped and run and batted its way through recent centuries. There will be some surprises – and a few good laughs (Halesworth has long shown itself to be good at enjoying itself).

The veil is drawn for the moment over the section called ‘Halesworth’s Sporting Heroes’, but it contains some surprises. We can perhaps lift the corner and reveal one strong contender. Anyone who walked sixty miles in twelve hours, as James Lockwood did two hundred years ago, earning himself the title of the Halesworth Pedestrian, surely deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.

The exhibition will open in the Gallery of Halesworth Library just as the Olympics START at the end of July and will remain open until the end of August.

Meanwhile, while you are still celebrating the Jubilee, spare an hour and come and see how previous generations of Halesworthians have done it in style. Visit the Halesworth and District Museum and take a look at our 2012 exhibition, ‘Halesworth’s Royal Celebrations: 200 Years of Coronations and Jubilees’, open Tuesday to Saturdays until the end of September, free of charge.

The Angel Bowls Club in action, 1911


The earliest picture of Halesworth ever discovered has been found while researchers were at work on a new book to be launched in Halesworth later this month.

The picture, of Halesworth windmill, which stood between the present School Lane and Wissett Road, was drawn by a local draper in about 1590, and shows the mill standing on a traditional wooden crosstree structure. The miller can be clearly seen in the window.

The picture is part of a fascinating volume of texts and images by Thomas Fella, which he called his Booke of Divers Devices and Sorts of Pictures. It has been stored in a Washington library for the last eighty years and has now been reproduced complete by Dr John Blatchly of the Suffolk Records Society and Martin Sanford of the Suffolk Biological Records Centre, who explain in their book how Fella found images and texts in the books he had read and had translated them into his own fascinating view of the world around him in Suffolk.

The illustrated talk, which has been supported by the Halesworth and District Museum, will be at 7.30 on Tuesday 26 June at The Cut, admission £3. The book will be available for sale after that date at the Halesworth Bookshop.