A postcard from Southwold 

Unless you are completely new to this blog, it won’t have gone unnoticed that we are currently on our summer holidays at Southwold in Suffolk. It’s a beautiful English seaside town which has loads of charm and character. 

It’s famous for its beach huts, lighthouse, beach and pier as well as the Adnams beer which is brewed locally. Mr Postcard grew up quite nearby, so Southwold has been a regular venue for day trips for us many times over the years while in Norfolk and Suffolk visiting his family. This time, however, is the first time we’ve actually stayed in the town. 

I thought we had probably seen all that it has to offer in the 20+ years we’ve been coming but I was wrong, one and a half weeks into our stay we are still finding quaint alleyways and new places we have never seen before. 


Would you like to join me for a look around? 

Southwold Museum

The little museum seems like as good a place as any to start… Manned by volunteers and open for just two hours a day it holds all sorts of relics from the towns past.

From figureheads from boats to fossils and mammoth teeth.

It has all sorts of bits and bobs relating to the town’s past, this little display was connected to the town’s tailor which is still operating as a clothes shop known as Denny’s. Whether they’ll make you a three piece suit out of tweed in this day and age, I’m not sure.

There were also lots of items relating to the religious life of the town with fragments of stained glass windows from the church of St Edmund’s which was close to a direct hit by German bombs during World War II.

Church of St Edmund’s

The church is home to Southwold Jack, a figure who strikes a bell with his sword. He was once part of a clock and chimed the time. He is an emblem for Southwold and even appears on the bottles of beer produced in the town.

It’s a beautiful big church…

There’s a fair amount of needlework on display here; in the choir stalls…

And in all the pews.

Riverside & harbour

Beside Southwold lies the River Blyth which offers the town a natural harbour. Here you can catch a ferry (rowing boat) across to the picturesque village of Walberswick on the other side.

It’s a really beautiful spot. We took a walk along the riverside on evening on a quest to find somewhere to have dinner. We were lucky enough to see a seal swimming in the harbour.

Along the riverside lie many black huts belonging to the fishermen who work these waters.


After a very pleasant walk we found ourselves at the Harbour Inn and enjoyed a lovely meal outside with the Little Postcards as the sun went down.


The Sailors’ Reading Room 

The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room is a really special place. It’s a kind of club for sailors but it’s open to the public to visit for free. It’s filled with photographs of sailors from years gone by and photos, paintings and models of their boats too. Cameras are not permitted inside, so I can’t show you the interior but it really is worth a visit. 



Lighthouse

The town is dominated by the Trinity Lighthouse. Nestled in amongst the terraced cottages and next to a pub, it’s open for visitors to climb the many steps to the top to look out across the sea and coastline.

RNLI

The RNLI has a strong presence in Southwold. In summertime there’s a lifeguard station and all year round there’s a lifeboat station, manned as always by brave volunteers. There’s even a museum dedicated to the great work these amazing people do and have done over the many years they’ve been on duty here. 

On our first day here, we were lucky enough to see a display by the local lifeboat and the larger lifeboat (below) from nearby Lowestoft. As you can see, hundreds of people turned out to see the event from the cliffs and the beach as the lifeboat crews staged rescues of surfers, a fishing boat crew and swimmers.

The town 

The town of Southwold itself is beautiful. It’s filled with many independent shops including great food shops, a big favourite of ours was the Two Magpies Bakery (my waistline will testify to that fact!)


Behind the town lies the common complete with it’s two striking water towers, and also currently, the circus.


There are so many beautiful buildings lying up alleyways and tucked away off the beaten track.

Oh, and there’s a brewery here too… I think I may have found a new favourite tipple 😉

If you should happen to be in this neck of the woods, I would really recommend a trip to Southwold. We just can’t help keep coming back for more…

A postcard from Southwold Pier

We may be back at home in Gibraltar now, but a little bit of me has been left behind in Southwold, where we ended our lovely month in England. In fact there has been a little bit of me (and Mr Postcard) in Southwold for over a decade now, but more on that later.

Southwold is famous for many things, the pretty town centre, the beach huts, the brewery, the harbour, the fish and chips, the church etc etc but the place we always associate with our visits to the town is the pier.

In its (first) heyday, at the turn of the last century,steam liners used to moor at the end of the pier and allow holiday makers to alight and enjoy the delights the town had to offer before rejoining the ship and moving on to their next destination.

Over the years since then it’s been damaged by storms, shortened during the war, rebuilt and extended. It’s length has changed from 250m at it’s longest to just 18m at it’s shortest.

In the late 90s new investment was pumped into the pier and it was repaired and extended to the size it is now, the final T-shaped end being completed in 2002 so that the last seagoing paddle steamer, the PS Waverley could once again call at the town.

Fans, or should I say, parents of fans of the CBeebies programme Grandpa in my pocket may recognise the pier as one of the venues used to film the show. Miss Smiley’s café was on the pier.

When you first arrive on the planks of the pier, you can see beautiful mosaic tables all around you. They are for the restaurant which is situated at the start of the pier.

Most of the time that we were there during the last two weeks, all the tables were taken – I only managed to get photos of these two! Fish and chips seemed to be a popular choice on the menu when we were passing.

One feature which always has a small group admiring it is the water clock. Built by locally based inventor Tim Hunkin, it puts on a special performance every half hour.

Starting with a couple of bathers who squirt water out at you as the time approaches the hour or half hour, various parts of the clock move.

The actions move lower down the clock tower until a row of red tulips pop up and two boys drop their trousers to have a wee! (Those of an easily offended disposition; please look away now!)

There are many shocked giggles from the children and a few sharp intakes of breath from some of the adults, amazed that such shenanigans should be allowed!

Another of Tim Hunkin’s creations is the Under the Pier Show, an amusement arcade unlike any other you will see elsewhere. Full of home made machines including the Zimmer frame masterclass for crossing a road (below) to the motorised dog on a treadmill which gives players the opportunity to experience dog walking if they don’t own one themselves.

Along with eating establishments, there are also a couple of gift/souvenir shops selling beachy type things.


There’s even a micro bandstand!

Now to the plaques. Any visitor to the pier won’t fail to notice the hundreds and hundreds of plaques which run along the rails around the wooden promenade. Each one tells a different story. People can pay for a plaque to be mounted somewhere on the pier, the money is then invested in the fabric of the building to preserve it for future generations – a form of crowd funding, if you like.

Some are in memory of special people, some remember happy holidays spent in Southwold, others are for special birthdays. There was even a book compiled by a local writer who told the stories behind some of the many plaques on show.

Our most memorable wedding present was one of these plaques. It ws a great surprise for us when Mr Postcard’s Mum and Dad revealed that we were having our own plaque made. I can remember being led along the pier to see it for the first time.

Each of the Little Postcards, has been brought to the pier to be photographed in front of our plaque in their pram with the seaside town and lighthouse in the background. We have a lovely series of photos here as our family has grown and got bigger over the years.

So there you have it, that was my Postcard from Southwold Pier, a special place for us. I do hope you have enjoyed it 🙂