Graphic: The day six Suffolk villages moved into Norfolk - and it definitely wasn’t an April Fools’ joke

The river Waveney at St Olaves The river Waveney at St Olaves

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
8:58 AM

It was a move that sparked opposition, outrage and even protests as the geographical and political map of the UK was changed forever.

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Moved villiages graphicMoved villiages graphic

The Local Government Act – which came into force on April, 1 1974 – resulted in a nationwide shake-up of council borders as Westminster sought to bring in a simpler system of power at a local level.

And in East Anglia it caused ramifications that are remembered to this day as Norfolk snatched six villages from Suffolk, cutting off its northern tip and wiping an ancient district from the map.

Belton, Bradwell, Burgh Castle, Hopton, Fritton and St Olaves were all Suffolk communities, lying within the confines of Lothingland Rural District Council.

But 40 years ago today they were all transferred to Norfolk to help boost population numbers for Great Yarmouth’s parliamentary constituency, while bringing income into the town, as villagers’ local rates went into Yarmouth’s coffers rather than Suffolk’s.

Fritton village sign.
The village of Fritton close to Bradwell and Belton.

Picture: James BassFritton village sign. The village of Fritton close to Bradwell and Belton. Picture: James Bass

For Ted Howlett, who was working as a PC for Suffolk Constabulary and living in Bradwell, the shift saw his village and job move to Norfolk.

The 74-year-old was transferred to Norfolk police and spent 15 years at each force, ending his career as a sergeant in Yarmouth.

He said: “It did mean quite a lot of change and people weren’t very keen. The rates were far lower in Bradwell under Lothingland and I think people always thought they were better off in Suffolk.

“I don’t think some people ever really accepted it; Suffolk people still consider themselves as Suffolk. I still feel I’m akin to Suffolk.”

A national shake up

The Local Government Act was introduced into parliament in November 1971 and became law on April 1, 1974.

It sought to streamline local government by simplifying it to a two-tier system, that of county and district councils.

The shake-up also extended to Wales but the distribution of power was slightly different, with district councils given the option of taking on libraries – a power previously held by county councils in England.

But the act attracted criticism and objection from all over the country.

In Berkshire, a campaign was launched to return the Uffington White Horse back within the county borders, while the removal of Gatwick Airport from Surrey into West Sussex attracted fierce opposition.

The names of some new authorities created under the act also caused controversy and there was opposition from some councils about the loss of local control.

John Redrum, 60, who was born and brought up in Burgh Castle, said for residents in his village however, the boundary change made sense.

“I think we all considered ourselves Norfolk,” he added. “We were right on top of the border and to be honest by that time we never really took a lot of notice of the border changes, other than you could get your road tax in Yarmouth and didn’t have to mess around with having to go to Ipswich.”

For heritage buffs the reshuffle signalled a blow as historic Lothingland was wiped out.

David Butcher, a member of Lowestoft Heritage Centre who has lived in Corton for 43 years, said: “At the stroke of a bureaucratic pen over 1,000 years of history were wiped out. Lothingland is a very ancient district, going back to the Anglo-Saxon period.

“Many people now have no recollection that those six northern parishes were part of Suffolk, it’s a historical loss.”

The move also saw the natural geographical features that separated the counties become blurred, as the traditional border that had followed the River Waveney was altered.

Mr Butcher said: “The River Waveney, Breydon Water and Yarmouth harbour – that’s a pretty major geographical boundary that

no longer exists as far as

civic practices are concerned.

“It was done in the interests of electoral and governmental efficiency, but it didn’t always take account of local feelings.”

LOCAL HISTORY LOST

Suffolk’s loss of Belton, Bradwell, Burgh Castle, Hopton, Fritton and St Olaves was the a major shake-up in the region

under the Local Government Act.

The political change was drastic historically as it removed one third of the settlements in the Lothingland Half-hundred – an ancient Suffolk administrative unit dating back to the late Anglo-Saxon period.

It was argued at the time that the majority of people in the villages saw Great Yarmouth as their local town, so it would only be right that it take the income from local rates.

And for one of the six villages, it gained a new name as well as a new county under the changes.

Hopton became Hopton-on-Sea for the first time in history after the village was given a thin strip of coastal Corton – the remains of the former parish of Newton mostly destroyed by erosion in the 16th century – which ran up to the boundary with Gorleston.

Previous border changes in 1835 also saw Norfolk snap up Thetford, which sits both sides of the traditional Little Ouse River county border.

11 comments

  • Surely Gorleston\Bradwell is better than Yarmouth? The rest of GY borough is, basically, a war zone. GY town looks like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, filled with all sorts of degenerates and costing the taxpayer a fortune in terms of social support.

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Hmm V-from a northern village perspective we see all the facilities disappearing over the bridge making journeys more expensive and longer, most of the industry and employment opportunities and the retail sucking the life out of the town centre and quite a bit of the spending. The Flegg villages may not be large and may not contribute as much in total as the Lothingland lot but I would wager the average per head council tax is higher. Cant remember the last time I saw a northern village mentioned in the Borough review either-and for some Norwich is closer than Beacon Park.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Maybe if Norfolk annexes Lowestoft from Suffolk we might get a third river crossing?! Purely to protect the native Norfolk folk that live in the town of course. We could be called Yartoft.... hmm now where have I heard that before....!!!

    Report this comment

    ollie

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • We mustn't stop here! We need to gather troops for the next invasion of Suffolk. We'll take Center Parcs and Lowestoft, then they will be running scared!

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • The focus on tourism is a disgrace as well. We lost pretty much every industry just to become a sand pit for cockneys on £9 Sun holidays. Disgraceful.

    Report this comment

    Steady On

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • @ Steady On - You're welcome to them. Have Pleasurewood Hills as well.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Exactly. Yarmouth is like a war zone and basically a no go area on a weekend nightime. Daisy. Yarmouth has had it too good for too long. Stealing tax money from the southern parishes and giving nothing back in return, all to be spent on their "lovely" seafront. As for employment, what do you expect ?. A lot of good small companies are forcibly being given their marching orders, just to facilitate that council vanity project laughingly called the Outer Harbour. Not many of these will re-open, so why do you think the reason is that companies who can afford to move are doing so across the water. To get away from all that. As for retail, all you have to do is refer to all other previous blogs on previous newspaper articles to find out the reason they are all moving out, being built out of town. The same old faces (regardless of politicial persuasion) are on the council, and they think it is their right to be on there to systematically destroy the very fabric of the town, for their own vested interest ends. How many "funny handshakes" do you think there are on there ?. I will just say, lots.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • An awful piece of legislation from Ted Heath,removing powers from the towns and parishes and handing them to the districts,and for the city doing the same but handing them to the county council.40 years on, this 2 and 3 tier system is no longer affordable or desirable.Soon after,Thatcher became the milk-snatcher too.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • What a load of rubbish, Most of North Suffolk should be in Norfolk, including Lowestoft and Beccles . . They have nothing in common with Suffolk, who goes to Ipswich there noone, Even the accent is more Norfolk, I moved from Lowestoft to Norwich, my mum was born in Suffolk my dad Norfolk but i honestly feel much more drawn to Norwich and Norfolk, Dont like Ipswich at all, never felt any connection to it,nor do many other Lowestoft people i know .Lowestoft would be better in Norfolk, might get a third crossing, no hope of that with Suffolk!,

    Report this comment

    june muskett

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Can we give them and Gorleston back please. It is not natural to have them in Norfolk and they suck the life out of the rest of GY borough. If not that, please someone let the northern villages of GY borough join Broadland or North Norfolk or create a new constituency and district council.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Perhaps its time for these & Gorleston to move back to Suffolk, seeing as they are the very poor relation to Yarmouth, then we will see how Yarmouth gets on. At least they might be treated differently than they are now.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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