Celebrations to mark 150 years of reading room

Southwold Sailors' reading rooms will soon be celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Southwold Sailors' reading rooms will soon be celebrating its 150th anniversary. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A flotilla of vintage and modern boats will gather in Sole Bay this weekend to launch a day of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Southwold Sailors' Reading Room.

The building on Southwold's East Cliff is hosting a day of music and talks on Saturday.

The event will begin at 11am when the boats take a salute to Southwold's fishermen past and present from local dignitaries and supporters of the reading room, who will be assembled outside the building.

The flotilla will include Lowestoft sailing trawler Excelsior, Victorian gaff cutter Leila, the Southwold lifeboat Annie Tranmer and high speed rigid inflatable Coastal Voyager as well as fishing vessels and sailing boats from Southwold Harbour.

The Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums will perform a selection of tunes as the boats sail past before a programme of talks, readings and music gets under way.

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The president of the reading room, John 'Dusso' Winter, will give a talk on some of the brave heroes and rogues from Southwold's past, Douglas Pope will give guided tours of the reading room, and actor Donald Gee will read a selection of 'Fishy Tales'.

The Saint Felix Preparatory School Choir will give a performance at noon and there will be folk music on the cliff from 2pm to 4pm.

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Coastal Voyager will be offering trips out to Excelsior and Leila and back from their harbour stage and there will be a snooker ball potting competition at the reading room. A prize draw will be held at 4pm and reading room merchandise will be on sale.

With the reading room acting as a small museum and a warm place for people to meet or read their daily papers, Southwold's mayor, Simon Tobin, said: 'This is the first event of its kind to be held in Southwold, and is a very special occasion for the Sailors' Reading Room. I hope as many people as possible will come along for a full day of entertainment and activity, and will become members to support this wonderful place.'

Chairman of the Sailors' Reading Room, Teresa Baggott, said: 'We attract the public all the year round, but some of our visitors may not appreciate how this iconic place evolved, and what it stands for now. Besides celebrating our 150th anniversary, we'd like this special open day to raise our profile.'

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