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Shore Stories, summer 2008

Shore Stories, summer 2008

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Published by CoastNet

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Published by: CoastNet on Jan 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Edge
Summer 2008 7
Suzanne Gattrell explores the power of words and story sharingin celebrating East Anglia’s rich coastal and community heritagethrough CoastNet’s Holding Back the Tide project.
ertrude Stein once said thathuman beings are interested intwo things. They are interestedin reality and interested in telling storiesabout it. This is certainly something I’vediscovered through my work withCoastNet’s latest community projectbased in East Anglia,
 Holding Back theTide
.The project is working withindividuals and community groups torecord local peoples' experiences of howlife and landscape have changed on theEast Anglian Coast in the counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk over the past50 years or more.It involves collecting artefacts,memorabilia, photographs, but mostimportantly it involves peoples’ storiesthrough a series of oral historyinterviews. Gertrude Stein’s wordsimmediately resonate with the sheerenthusiasm of a wide range of individuals, schools and organisationsjumping on board throughout theregion – from Scratby in northNorfolk, to Burnham on Crouch inEssex. Culminating in a touringexhibition of coastal living history forregional and local museums in Spring2009, the project looks set to unearthgreat oral riches and memory gems.As well as recollecting the coastal timesof yesteryear, youth projects are beingset up to look at the values and visionsof young people about their coastalhomes in comparison to its heritage.
Ma v i sSa  j&Jo h nB r i s to w
 S t  e eurn er&liab e t hr elli s
 S c ra t b y,No r fo l k
 Ro w hedge,Esse x
Ruth Slater,head ofSt Lawrence Primary Schoolpictured with Suzanne Gatrellfrom CoastNet.
8The Edge
Summer 2008
Scratby,Norfolk MavisSzaj and John Bristow
Mavis Szaj was one of the thousandsof people in 1950s Britain whoregularly holidayed on the EastAnglian coast.Mavis, now living in Scratby, usedto come on holiday to the townregularly in the 1950s and, afterher mother bought a house in 1959,Scratby became their summer holidaydestination of choice (see picture A-C). For Mavis, Scratby has wonderfulmemories. “Scratby always conjuresup nice memories for somebody….and everyone’sgot their own storyof aspecial summer holiday here”,she remarks.With her interest in the social andeconomic side of coastalcommunities, Mavis, along with JohnBristow has volunteered on behalf of the Scratby Coastal Erosion Group toassist in collecting oral histories fromlocal people for the Holding Back theTide project.
Rowhedge,Essex –SteveTurner and Elizabeth Trellis
Sixth generation ‘Rowhedger’ SteveTurner was the first person to have hisoral history collected by Mavis duringatraining day for all thosevolunteering to interview participantsin the project. Nestled on the banks of the tidal River Colne, Rowhedge isstill very much a seafaringcommunity today with localsenjoying the opportunity to sail,motor, kayak or row from the villagequayside (see picture D). Estuaries andtidal rivers areiconic to the Essexcoastline and Rowhedge itself has arich maritime history,enjoying itsown ship building heyday between1890 and 1914.Steve’s family tree shows that hisgreat, great, great grandfather wasborn in the village about 1780 and hisfamily has moreor less always beeninvolved with boats. His great greatgrandfather was a shipwright, hisgranny’sbrother was chief clerk at theIron works and his grandfather FredTurner,known to fellow workers as‘Turner the Burner’, was a riveter inthe shipyard. However, Fred alsocrewed on the royal racing cutter
and, as launch man, wouldtaxi King George V to shore.Also sharing her memories, was fellowRowhedge resident, Elizabeth Trellis.Recalling the amount of boat trafficon the Colne, Elizabeth commented,“Of course, what we really miss is thecoasters up and down, because it wasvery, very busy when we were herebetween 1970 and 1975. Weused tokeep a log of them, which was greatfun for the children to see where theycame from and learnalot of geography from the boats”.Today Elizabeth still keeps a log of theboats which she can see from herhouse, just across the high street fromthe quay. She is a well known figurearound the village, known as ‘the ladywho swims in the river’ – a ratherimpressive claim at 74 years old. It wasthis fame that sparked two localvillagers to ask if they could nametheir boat after her (see picture E).

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