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National Trust exhibition celebrating 100 years of taking over Blakeney Point. Ancestors of Blakeney Lifeboat crew, left to right, Margery Gray, Mary Long, Sheila Wood and David Constable. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY
By DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP, Reporter
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
In August 1912, banker and keen entomologist Charles Rothschild launched a public appeal to raise £695 to buy one of Norfolk’s jewels – Blakeney Point.
After the success of the appeal the funds were then gifted to the National Trust, an organisation which has looked after the Point ever since.
And to celebrate the centenary of the Trust’s ownership of the area the Blakeney Area Historical Society has put on an exhibition entitled The Tidal Lands.
Hundreds of visitors have attended Blakeney Village Hall to view the exhibition which covers the coastal villages of Morston, Blakeney, Wiveton and Cley and includes photographs, maps and exhibits on local ships, the Blakeney lifeboat and coastguards and the sale of the Point.
But the real gem of the event, almost as precious as the Point itself, is the attendance of the living relatives of the oldest generations of Blakeney’s history.
The Society has focused on the local communities and on hand to talk about his experiences was the founder of the country’s first business school, Prof Ronald Beresford Duw.
His late great-grandfather Thomas Duw was a sea captain for more than 40 years, sailing with cargo ships to places such as Norway and Algeria and when he retired he became the harbour master for Blakeney.
The 96-year-old, of Wiveton, said he was proud to be part of the town’s heritage and although geographically he did not believe the town had changed much, in other ways he thought it had.
“Between 1900 and 1920 my family kept a log of all their activities and our visits to the town and the Point,” he said.
“We now have more tourists, but as a boy I remember we had no visitors to the town.
“This exhibition is cracking and absolutely superb and all of its elements have come together to bring the area’s history to life.”
The Blakeney Area Historical Society was established in 1990 and in 2003 opened the History Centre at the rear of the village hall. As part of the exhibition the Society has interviewed local residents about their families in the community.
Ancestors of Blakeney lifeboat crew, Margery Gray, 90, Mary Long, 85, and brother and sister David Constable, 60, and Sheila Wood, 75, have been relaying their memories of family life to History Centre manager Pam Peake.
Mrs Gray’s family, the Starlings, have lived in Blakeney since the 1600s and Mrs Long’s family have lived in Blakeney since the 1870s. They are both the granddaughters of the town’s last coxswain of the lifeboat, William Starling.
Mrs Long said: “We are part of the area’s history and always have been, we’ve also contributed to the exhibition with family photos and data – the families have always lived and worked here.
“There was no health and safety when we were younger. We could go out doors and no one would worry about us. In those days there were 50 to 60 children living in the High Street.”
Mrs Peake, who has been documenting the history of Blakeney’s ancestors, said the work carried out in the village to preserve the history was “positive”.
“This exhibition has been very ambitious for us and these people play a really large part in the village history. We want people to appreciate their heritage.”
The final day of the four-day exhibition will take place today (Tuesday) at Blakeney Village Hall from 10.30am-4pm. Entrance is free and refreshments will be available. There will also be car parking facilities.
● For more information about the Society visit www.history-blakeney-area.org.uk