Tag Archives: air crash

Felixstowe Pier

The logical next step after Southwold seemed to be Felixstowe. We arrived, had fish and chips (to be covered later), visited Landguard Point, photographed a Martello Tower and, finally, parked by the pier. This was not because I had a plan to accommodate a lot of sight-seeing in one trip, but because I couldn’t remember how to get to the pier.

I don’t have overly fond memories of Felixstowe Pier. We used to go there when visiting Julia’s parents in Suffolk and my clearest memories are a stony beach and architecture that always makes me think of a barrack block in the 1950’s.

It’s all changed now. Apart from the beach – that’s still stony. I don’t mind stony beaches myself but they are cheerless places when you have kids, and I did ache a bit the morning after  I threw myself full length on Hastings beach to stop a shot on goal from one of the kids. Competitive? Me?

The new pier has been open less than a year and cost £3 million. It seems like a bargain for a lovely new amusement arcade, which includes a new carpet, with appropriate logo. Compared to the old Felixstowe Pier this is a magical place, but compared to Southwold it’s a bit basic. An Arcade, some food, a carpet and some railings cannot compete. Even the gulls on the fenced-off  section aren’t enough to raise the game – without people to walk the boards a pier is merely a method to collect guano.

It was once 2,640 feet long, one of the longest piers in the country. It had an electric tramway and a pleasure steamer service operated from the end of the pier, with services to Yarmouth and London.

All went well until 1939, when the Army took a section out of the pier to stop it being used by invading Germans. I’m not really clear why piers were seen as such an important factor in the German invasion. It was probably like the metal collections that resulted in the loss of my grandparents’ garden railings. Rumour has it that we didn’t need all that ironwork, but that it was a way of bringing the reality of war home to the population. The breaching of the piers on the east coast was probably similar, being a propaganda measure rather than a serious military necessity.

After the war the pier was never repaired.

The tramway never ran again and the detached seaward end was eventually demolished. The only reason there is anything running out to sea is because it is too expensive to demolish. Eventually I suppose the whole lot will fall apart, which will be a shame, but despite all the regeneration of the seafront Felixstowe seems destined to be more famous as a container port rather than a holiday destination.

There’s a picture on the internet showing a Short 184 seaplane on the pier after crashing in 1920. Having been a seaplane base in the war Felixstowe was no stranger to aircraft accidents.Though it’s virtually unknown these days the Short was a notable aircraft in its day, with a number of records to its credit.

Felixstowe also saw the crash of the Felixstowe Fury. Having missed the chance to fly the Atlantic non-stop when the Air Ministry decided to leave the attempt to commercial interests, the Fury was being prepared for a record-breaking flight to South Africa when it crashed in the sea off Felixstowe, killing the radio operator. At the time it was the largest seaplane in the world and the largest ever British aircraft. With a wingspan of 123 feet it was 21 feet wider than an Avro Lancaster.

I’ll leave it there because, although I’m fascinated by early aviation, it’s not really anything to do with the pier.


Felixstowe Pier


The weight of history

It’s Armistice Day again (is it my imagination or is the old name making a comeback after years of Remembrance Day) and time to take a walk up to the Screveton air crash memorial.

On 14th April 1944 a Lancaster and an Airspeed Oxford collided over the village. Margaret Rose, mother of farmer David, was playing with friends when she heard a tremendous bang and looked up to see two aircraft falling to earth.

The pilots both steered the aircraft clear of the houses, crashing in open fields on the edge of the village with the loss of all eleven crew on board.


We go every year because it’s just on the side of the road by the farm. This year we had the company of a charm of goldfinches in a blackthorn tree.


I’ll finish with a poem. It’s not one that I’ve seen before, but I found it whilst looking for Adelstrop, as the blog has mentioned birdsong and the war it seemed to fit in nicely with the poem and the death of Edward Thomas on the Western Front. This seemed more fitting for the day, though I also found this one.

Killed in Action (Edward Thomas)

Happy the man whose home is still
In Nature’s green and peaceful ways;
To wake and hear the birds so loud,
That scream for joy to see the sun
Is shouldering past a sullen cloud.

And we have known those days, when we
Would wait to hear the cuckoo first;
When you and I, with thoughtful mind,
Would help a bird to hide her nest,
For fear of other hands less kind.

But thou, my friend, art lying dead:
War, with its hell-born childishness,
Has claimed thy life, with many more;
The man that loved this England well,
And never left it once before.

W H Davies

The next post will be more cheerful!