Southwold’s famous Sailor’s Reading Room was built in 1864 in memory of a Captain Rayley, who had been an officer at the Battle of Trafalgar, and had died the previous year.
I knew the building as a boy and remember thinking it was as fabulous then as I think it is now. It really hasn’t changed in close to 50 years, and the only sadness is that photography is forbidden and I can’t show you how splendid it really is.
What I can say without fear of contradiction is that the old reading room is packed with a huge variety of treasures, including photos, models and other memorabilia of the local fishermen, sailors and coastguards of years gone by.
Often generations of brothers, fathers, sons and cousins worked at these trades at the same time, and because they so often bore the same name they were often given colourful nicknames – I particularly like the name of one bearded old salt whose photo appears on the Reading Room’s walls. He must have gloried in his handle of ‘Crikey’ Rogers!
Of course, many of them were also lifeboatmen, and since we’ve been to the old town recently in a day or two thanks to some great local friends I’ll add some photos of the restored local lifeboat now on show in a new home near the beach, and some shots from the harbour – including the wonderful Leila. Make sure you come back!
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