Benjamin Britten wearing Orfords – the Suffolk fishermen’s ideal in trousers

Britten in a pair of Orfords

Our fashion correspondent writes: Orfords are a traditional style of simple rugged canvas seafaring jeans said to have been much favoured on the Suffolk coast between the wars – and now you can buy your own pair online from Old Town Clothing.

I gather Benjamin Britten had two pairs made up in chambray by an Aldeburgh tailor for himself and Peter Pears, who in turn knitted two fetching bobble hats. Sadly I haven’t been able to obtain a photograph of Britten and Pears wearing the local fishermen’s garb, but I Old Town’s William Brown rustled up the image above showing how composer Britten might have looked in his Orfords.

Now, if anyone does have a photo of Britten and Pears in those bobble hats and sailors’ trousers that they’d like to share with a wider public, do please get in touch at gmatking@gmail.com.

My thanks to Otis Luxton for pointing this one out.

I don’t know why it is, but I have to say that I haven’t found a pair of trousers that made me smile as much as this since I discovered a photo of my Dad wearing blue jeans some time in the mid 1950s. He never wore anything like that again…

PS – Chambray, or cambric, is a fine fabric woven with white threads across a coloured warp, and gets its name from Cambrai in Northern France.

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Wrecks and working boats of the Ore

Working boats at Ore Working boats at Ore 2

Working boats on the  Ore 4 Wrecks on the Ore Working boats at Ore 3

Click on the thumbnails for much bigger photos!

The coast of East Anglia is well known for its crab boats, lifeboats, beach punts, beach yawls and Southwold luggers – but I can’t say that I’ve read much about the little boats with their sweeping sheers show in these shots.

These photos come from Orford, but similar craft can be seen along the Deben and on the Alde.

From looking at my copy of the marvellous but almost unobtainable Chatham Directory of Inshore Craft, I’d say that many of the small wooden working boats in these photos are relatives of what it calls the Felixstowe Ferry lobster boat, a lug-rigged 15ft open boat made at Woodbridge that died out in the 1950s.

There must be a story to be told about the history of these little craft. I’m struck that quite a few of the local modern plastic tenders have something of the same form.

Looking at these shots I can’t help but think they have more than a touch of the Norse about them, but it’s not just a matter of history: the advantages of that pronounced sheer line are obvious when you see the confused water of the bar they must cross to reach the sea (see below).

I was also tickled by the Laser converted for rowing by the addition of a sliding seat (which must be seriously wasted in a hull this short – see Rowing for Pleasure comment), and by this splendid shed.

Confused water at the mouth of the Ore Laser sliding seat converted for rowing Ore boatshed

Elegant mystery yacht at Orford

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Beautiful yacht at Ore

Beautiful yacht seen at Orford

We spotted this intriguing and wonderfully elegant yacht at Orford in Suffolk while strolling and photographing working boats and wrecks a few days ago. Can anyone help? What’s her name, what is she? Is she Scandinavian? And what’s her story? If you know, please either contact us at gmatkin@gmail.com, or use the comment button below.