Memories preserved for a corner of the Broads

From the eccentric landlady who refused to serve more than a pint to customers to learning to swim on the Shipmeadow Lock – memories of a corner of the Broads near Beccles have been chronicled and preserved for years to come.

At a ceremony outside the Locks Inn in Geldeston on Tuesday a short film, podcast and an interpretative information sign for visitors were unveiled.

The joint initiative between the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Charitable Trust and the Broads Authority, made possible with a grant from the Geoffrey Watling Charity, has seen memories of the lock, which straddles the River Waveney, recorded.

It is the best preserved of three locks which enabled trading wherries to reach Bungay for 150 years until its closure in 1934.

Charles Thacker, now 89 grew up in Geldeston and remembers swimming in the lock.

He said: 'I used to come down here as soon as I could swim.

'We used to spend all our summers down here. We used to go and see Mr Money the lockkeeper and buy a penny of nuts if we had a penny. That was all he sold to us.

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'In the winter we used to come down to the marshes because they would freeze over.'

Douglas Money, 80, is the grandson of a former lock keeper.

He said: 'My granddad was a lock keeper, but I was never old enough to get down here when he was lock keeper. It wasn't a job that paid a lot. He was a man of very few words.

'I think this is a really nice thing to do. It will be nice to have it on disc.'

Clare Weller, who was responsible for the project and filmed people talking about their memories and did the podcast, said: 'So many people have come forward we couldn't possibly interview them all but everyone had great stories to tell – from ice skating on the frozen river in winter to tales of the exploits of the wherrymen and some of the rather eccentric landlords.

'When you think that the Lock's Inn has no mains electricity even now and has always been prone to flooding, you can imagine that it takes quite a character to run it.'

Waveney Valley ranger Colin Hart said 'There were lots of stories which still existed which hadn't been collected. These people aren't getting any younger.'

To see the film and download the podcast go to the Broads Authority's website www.enjoythebroads.com. It will also form part of a permanent exhibition in Beccles Museum.

annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk

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