• “Wool and woollen cloth represented the bulk of English exports in the last centuries of the Middle Ages and the rise in the proportion of woollen cloth to raw wool in export figures can be taken as an index of the increasing weight of manufacturing in the economy. The transition from a stage characterised by massive exports of indigenous raw materials to a stage increasingly characterised by manufactured goods made from raw materials is a typical step on the road to economic development”.
C.M. Cipolla, 1976


4.1 Needs and wants
4.1.1 Food and drink¬ 4.1.2 Clothing¬
4.2 Trading networks
4.2.1 The high-trust culture¬
4.3 Money from hemp
4.3.1 James Aldred; manufacturing draper¬
4.4 Money from malt
4.4.1 East Anglia and malting¬
4.5 Botanical riches
4.5.1 Badeleys and Woodcocks¬ 4.5.2 William Jackson Hooker¬ 4.5.3 Botanical imperialism¬
4.6 Barley business
4.6.1 Malting at Halesworth¬ 4.6.2 The malting infrastructure¬ 4.6.3 Patrick Stead ¬
4.7 Trading on a restless coast
4.7.1 'Murder of Southwold¬ 4.7.2 Malting: an historical milestone¬
4.8 Other manufacturing businesses
4.8.1 A truly local newspaper¬ 4.8.2 Mass production¬ 4.8.3 An educational model¬

4.1.Needs and wants

The increased consumption of goods and services is ultimately what economic growth is about. Economic growth cannot affect our spiritual welfare. It can be diverted to purposes which are damaging to others, such as the construction and use of weapons, or which are positive in the long run but have no immediate effect on welfare, such as investment. This leaves increased consumption as the only end for which economic growth is much use, at least to the people who are involved.

After 1815, relatively little was spent on weapons and war. Other forms of government expenditure also remained low. Investment, which rose as a proportion of income until the mid-nineteenth century, was stable thereafter. By a combination of their own volition and the actions of the outside world, the British people spent most of their extra income from economic growth on consumption. The basis of consumption for most people in this period was food, drink and clothing. Although the middle classes didn't stint themselves on food, they still had much more disposable income than other purchasers. In the eighteenth century, their consumption of semi-durables like china was an important component of demand. The proliferation of cheap Staffordshire ware in the early nineteenth century shows that these tastes extended down to the working class when they could afford to indulge them. Clothing was the most important semi-durable, although with the reduction in the cost of material, the actual proportion spent on it may not have changed much. Of equal or greater importance than semi-durables as an item of consumption was housing, spending on which was growing rapidly throughout the period. The substantial detached villa of the middle-class Victorian family must have been much more expensive than the neat Georgian terrace.

4.1.1 Food and drink
In poor societies, people inevitably spend much of their income on food. For poorer members of the working class in the early part of the period, this proportion was around three-quarters. Much of this expenditure went on bread, and it was a measure of English wealth as compared with the Continent that the English mainly ate wheaten bread, made as white as possible by milling out the husk. This was more expensive but offered a higher protein content than rye bread. More important to the consumer, it was digestible. When bread was the main item of diet, an excess of fibre, the Holy Grail of modern diet, was as unpleasant as its absence can be deleterious. By contrast, in Scotland, originally a much poorer country, oats had been and remained an important part of the diet, their persistence in the menu showing the importance of custom as well as income in dietary habits. Although bread was the mainstay of the working-class diet in the eighteenth century, tropical luxuries were penetrating working-class homes, as they were middle-class. Consumption of sugar and tea in particular was burgeoning. The relative wealth of Britain at this time, and access to cheap supplies of these commodities, fixed an enduring taste for them in this country, which was marked by the rise of the grocery trade. The first record of a grocer in Halesworth, who probably vended dry goods, is in the Parish Register for 1680.

As income increased, diet diversified, although food and drink still dominated working-class budgets, food alone accounting for over 50 per cent of working-class spending by the end of the nineteenth century. Tea and sugar consump­tion also went on rising throughout the century. Contrary to the fears of contemporaries worried about its effect on the health of the nation, tea is simply a mild stimulant. However, most foodstuffs were not bought for health but to provide variety, although they might bring nutritional benefits. Meat, milk and butter consumption all rose steeply in the later nineteenth century. Not shown in the statistics, but often referred to in accounts of working-class life, were tinned salmon and pineapple. The fish canning industry was one of the first developments of Victorian mass production adding value to cheap perishable, seasonal mass-catches, such as pilchards. There is substantial oral evidence that much of the benefit of this diversification went to working males in the family, who were thought to need meat in particular. The continued heavy spending on food has been represented as an adherence to traditional patterns of consumption, but a moment's thought shows that diversifying a diet consisting largely of bread and potatoes would be anyone's priority in the same position. This diversification could only be achieved by buying more expensive foodstuffs such as meat. It was human nature rather than tradition that accounted for the continued predominance of spending on food in family budgets. In 1851 there were three butcher’s shops in Halesworth that seem to have possessed their own integral abattoirs. This situation may be contrasted with Prime’s open stalls in the Market Place, and adjacent abattoir, in the 16th century.

Fig 4.1 Advertisement in the Halesworth Times (18th December. 1855)

Alcohol consumption rose until the 1870s, to a level of 270 pints of beer and 1.5 gallons of spirits per person, per year; most was consumed by adult males. Beer was by far the bigger market in volume, but spirits and wines come close with regards alcohol consumption (Fig 4.1). In the 1870s, a change in taste happened. The rising real wages of the next twenty years were not marked by any further rise in alcohol consumption, and in the 1900s it declined. At its peak in 1876, it took 15 per cent of consumers' expenditure. It was on the back of this growing habit that Halesworth’s brewers became bankers and entrepreneurs.

4.1.2 Clothing
The making of cloth, like the growing of food, is one of the earliest economic activities of human societies. At a primitive economic level, the raw materials are pro­duced in the ordinary course of farming, and the same labour which handles the wool, flax or hemp also tills the fields. For many centuries there was therefore a very intimate connection between the making of clothes and the growing of food. Moreover, so long as the tool employed, distaff, spinning wheel or loom, was simple and could be worked by hand, the industry remained dis­persed in the countryside. There was no great advantage in concentration. In the Middle Ages, the woollen industry was carried on in most counties of England; and as early as the reigns of Henry I and II there were weavers' guilds in London, Oxford, Lincoln, Nottingham, York and Huntingdon. Most villages had at least one weaver, and every cottage had a distaff. Spinning was an occupation that employed the leisure hours of women of all ages and classes.
The cloth used by the masses for clothing in these early days was coarse. At quite an early date some districts, like the West Country and Yorkshire, were specializing in weaving, possibly because of their suitability for sheep rearing and to the number of streams which supplied abundant water for the main processes of cloth-making. By the fifteenth century the woollen industry was so important that export of cloth, handled by a national corporation called the Merchant Adventurers, had become the chief item in England's foreign trade. In 1355 between five and six thousand cloths were exported; at the end of the fifteenth century the Mer­chant Adventurers alone were shipping abroad annually some 60,000 cloths; in 1509, 84,789; and in 1547, 122,354. By the middle of the sixteenth century, the value of England's total exports in normal years stood perhaps at some £75,000 per annum. Woollens of one sort or another accounted for over 80 percent of all exports, with raw wool down to a mere 6 percent. Most of the English trade was still limited to Europe. The English mercantile marine was as yet of small consequence, perhaps about 50,000 tons, and much of the country's foreign trade, even when handled by English merchants, was carried by foreign vessels, many of which used the East Anglian ports of Lynn, Yarmouth, Southwold, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Ipswich.

New fashions influenced and were influenced by the clothing indus­tries. In the seventeenth century Lancashire was laying the foundations of the cotton industry. At first, raw cotton from Cyprus, Smyrna and the Levant was spun, and a coarse cloth called fustian, half cotton and half linen, was made. Before 1700 the various East India companies and the interloper traders were pouring Indian cottons and silks into Europe, and there was hardly a country that did not view with alarm the decay of its native woollen industry. English pamphlets were loud in their denunciations of the foreign trash.

"Cotton is as fine and soft as Wool, it may be spun as small or as large, it may be Milled and Drest, it may be Dyed and Stained, and when the English merchant shall send over Cloth-Weavers and Dyers, and Throwsters, as well as Silk, I question not but we shall have Cotton-Cloth and Knaves enough to make it a Fashion and Fools enough to wear it," said one writer.

Nevertheless the new cotton goods caught on. The extent of the popularity may be seen from the inventory of a Preston draper in 1688. There were for sale white calico buckram at under a shilling a yard; white calico, printed and glazed calico at 1s. 1d.; brown calico at 10d.; black, blue, and "coloured" calico at l d.; broad glazed calico at 1s.; stained calico at 1s. 2d. and 1s.; narrow flowered calico at 9d.; and, finally, coloured calico at 1s. 7d. In the 1660s to 1680s six drapers were operating in the Halesworth, no doubt vending these materials.

The calico-printing industry, fostered by the importation of plain calicoes from the East, was a significant development of the closing years of the seventeenth century. Hitherto, designs had been executed by hand and were accordingly expensive. Now elaborate designs could be printed cheaply. Women's clothes became brighter. About 1690 the woollen manufacturers began to agitate against the use of Indian goods, and so strong was their influence that in 1701 an Act was passed forbidding "the use and wear, in any form, of Indian and Chinese silks, and of Indian printed or painted calicoes and striped or checked cottons." This, it will be noticed, did not prevent the importation of plain calicoes and the printing of them in England. The printing industry naturally took full advantage of this Act, so much so that in 1707 the woollen manufacturers were complaining of its competition as:
  • "more prejudicial to us than the importation of painted calicoes was before the passing of that Act. For whereas then the calicoes painted in India were most used by the richer sort of people whilst the poor continued to wear and use our woollen goods, the calicoes now painted in England are so very cheap and so much the fashion that persons of all qualities and degrees clothe them­selves and furnish their houses in a great measure with them".

Printed calicoes were used for frocks, aprons, quilts, and other articles purchased by the rural housewife. In the interests of the ancient woollen industry, Parliament imposed excise duties on printed linens and at double the rate on printed calicoes. From time to time, these duties were increased, and though this checked the sale of such articles, the woollen manufacturers were still dissatisfied. In the depression of 1719 the agitation was renewed on an extensive scale. This culminated in the Act of 1721 that prohibited the use and wear of any kind of calico, except calicoes dyed blue, which were probably used for aprons and smock frocks. However, there was no stopping the producers of cotton cloth, and under the stimulus of an expanding market and power production, the chief change in dress material during the industrial revolution was the substitution of cotton for wool and linen. The drapers of Halesworth played their part in disseminating both home-produced and imported cloths as well as ready-made outfits (Fig. 4.2).

Fig. 4.2 Advertisement in the Halesworth Times (18th December. 1855)


4.1.3 Housing
William Harrison, a parson, in 1577 recorded the improvement in household conditions that had taken place since his father's day, ' not among the nobility and gentry only but likewise of the lowest sort in most places of our south country.'

  • ' Our fathers [he writes] yea and we ourselves have lien full oft upon straw pallets, covered only with a sheet, under coverlets made of dagswain or hop harlots and a good round log under their heads instead of a bolster. If it were so that our fathers or the good man of the house had a mattress or flockbed and thereto a sack of chaff to rest his head upon, he thought himself to be as well lodged as the lord of the town that peradventure lay seldom in a bed of down or whole feathers. Pillows were thought meet only for women in childbed. As for servants, if they had any sheet above them, it was well, for seldom had they any under their bodies, to keep them from the pricking straws that ran oft through the canvas of the pallet and razed their hardened hides.'

Straw on the floor and straw in the bedding bred fleas, and some fleas carried plague.
  • Harrison also notes that chimneys have become general even in cottages, whereas ' in the village where I remain," old men recalled that in ' their young days ' under the two Kings Harry,' there were not above two or three chimneys if so many, in uplandish towns, the religious houses and manor places of their lords always excepted, but each one made his fire against a reredoss in the hall where he dined and dressed his meat.'

The increasing use of coal, siphoned off the east coast trade from Newcastle to London, instead of wood for the domestic hearth made it more dis­agreeable not to have chimneys, and the increasing use of bricks made it easier to build them, even if the walls of the house were of some other material. Harrison also records a change during his own lifetime 'of treen [wooden] platters into pewter, and of wooden spoons into silver or tin.' The age of forks was not yet come; where knife and spoon would not avail, even Queen Elizabeth picked up the chicken bone deftly in her long fingers. Until her reign ' a man should hardly find four pieces of pewter in a farmer's house.' Of china there was as yet none. Wooden household utensils, such as butter moulders, continued to be used for centuries to come. Until relatively recent times the home brew continued to be made with an assortment of specialised wooden aids, which are captured in the following account by old Reuben Noy of Westleton, as related by Alan Jobson.

" All the things thet wur used in brewin' wur made o' wood, an' wunnerful clean and smooth they wur. They cum fro' the coopers, barrels, tubs, pail, tongs or rack, wedges, spickets and fawsets, even the funnels (' tunnels' we called 'em) ; an' thur wur the wilsh made o' osiers. Thet wur like a little wicker bottle, an' wur used tew strain off the hops from the beer when thet wur runned off. We used tew buy them from owd Daines o' Dennington, same as used tew make the skeps and baskets in his little shop near the church."

Common houses and cottages were still of timber, or of ' half-timber ' with clay and rubble between the wooden up­rights and crossbeams, and a thatched roof. An idea of the character of Halesworth in the age of wood may be glimpsed in the old photograph of such a house and bakery that once stood at the bottom of Station Rd, next to the Oriental Public House (Fig. 4.3). This property was destroyed by fire in the 1930s. Its latter day retail history as a bakery can be traced from the 1844 to 1929 as follows:
  • White's Directory 1844; David Fisk, baker
  • 1851 census for Bungay road: David Fiske, age 48, master baker (Halesworth) wife, Sarah Fiske, age 42 (Tasburgh Nfk)
  • White's Directory 1855: Frederick Fiske, baker
  • Kelly's Directory 1896: Edward Dykes, baker
  • Kelly's Directory 1925, Nathan Mills, baker
  • Kelly's Directory 1929, Nathan Mills, baker

Fig. 4.3. Nathan Mills’ Bakery, Station Road

Brick was replacing wood in Suffolk by the end of the 17th century. It is from this time that the designation ‘Red House’ became commonplace to emphasise the novel feature of the first brick-built houses in town and country. There were two properties so named in Halesworth, ‘Red House’ close to the junction of Bridge St and Quay St and another ‘Red House Farm’, on the boundary with Walpole. These have not been dated, but it is probable that they were constructed in the mid-18th century. The large-scale use of bricks to rebuild properties in the Thoroughfare awaited the growth of local brick making on an industrial scale. Designations, such as ‘Tilehouse’, indicate that thatch was giving way to new ways of roofing.

4.2 Trading networks

In the first half of the 16th century, the population of East Anglia gained from the initiation of a golden age for English exports, later boosted by the chaotic devaluations of the pound, which Henry VIII debased to finance his extravagant military expenditure in France. Economic development of Halesworth hinged on the east coast trading networks of prosperity emanating from the London-Antwerp mercantile axis. This fact explains the tendency during that period for eastern England to be the richer and more active area of the economy, sucking in people, goods, and trade from other parts of the nation. However, many provincial traders found themselves unable to compete against the increasingly rich and powerful London merchants. The commerce of the old and important west-coast port of Bristol declined, and a similar fate even befell such long-established Eastern ports as Hull and Boston. Some were able to develop other types of trade, and in this respect, Southwold was ideally placed to serve the coastal maritime traffic to a local purpose, importing coal from Newcastle, and exporting cereal grains to meet the demands of the rapidly growing London economy. The development of the road from Harleston to Southwold via Halesworth was a measure of the importance of Southwold in the regional economy.

Elements of continuity with the past were numerous and significant, and yet in more than one sense, by the middle of the sixteenth century, England looked very different from what it had been a century earlier. There was more concern with property and the first descriptions, of ‘who owned what’ in central Halesworth date from this time. Literacy, to take one indicator of development, was rapidly spreading among the population, and society as well as the economy was undergoing a process of substantial change. The fact of the matter is that the period 1550-1650 was characterised by England's entry into a new stage in economic development, a stage in which other manufactures besides woollens began to play a major role in the economy. These new sectors had begun to expand and to achieve a steadily increasing importance in the economy from about the middle of the 16th century. The shift from one type of economy to another occurred gradually, and even at the end of the 17th century, woollen textiles still accounted for about 48 percent of exports. However, change was evident in the increased production of iron, lead, armament, and new types of cloth, glass, and silk. The rural blast furnaces of England and Wales produced some 5,000 tons of iron per annum around 1550 and 18,000 tons per annum around 1600. The output of lead reached 3,200 tons in about 1580, and that was not all. Joshua Gee mentions that:
“the manufacture of Linnen was settlled in several parts of the Kingdom.... Also the manufacture of Copper and Brass were set on Foot, which are brought to great Perfection and now in a great Measuere supply the Nation with Coppers, Kettles and all Sorts of Copper and Brass ware. The making of Sail cloth was began and carried on to great Perfection; also Sword Blades, Sciffars and a great many Toys made of Steel which formerly we used to have from France”.

The following, a remarkable summary of a century of British achievement, was written in the Edinburgh Review of 1813:

  • "The lower orders . . . have still less good fortune (than the higher and more instructed orders of society) to reckon on. In the whole history of the species there was nothing at all comparable to the improvement of England within the last century; never anywhere was there such an increase of wealth and luxury-so many admirable inventions in the arts-so many works of learning and ingenuity-such a progress in cultivation-such an enlargement of commerce -and yet, in that century, the number of paupers in England had increased fourfold, and is now rated at one-tenth of her whole population, and notwithstanding the enormous sums that are levied and given privately for their relief, and the multitudes that are drained off by the waste of war, the peace of the country is perpetually threatened by the outrages of famishing multitudes".

This was by way of a provisional progress report on an unprecedented mixture of industry and charity that was the British Industrial Revolution. By the time of the 1851 census a well-defined phase of economic development was complete. Steam-power and machinery were victorious. The technique of big-scale manufacture was in large measure understood, and appropriate specialists to carry forward both trade and industry were rapidly being produced through educational reforms. Negotiation rather than violence came to workers' minds to take issue with employers. The farm labourer had become stoical about the workhouse as the probable home of his declining years; the resentment of the displaced hand-loom weavers was passing with their final extinction; the country boys were "off to Philadelphia" instead of their nearest town. The country, measured by days' journeys, had grown nine-tenths smaller and safer.

4.2.1 The high-trust culture
Of importance to this discussion is the highly individualistic culture, which prevailed in Halesworth for much of the period. Philosophers and political economists like John Stuart Mill and Thomas Malthus, as well as the later well-known populists like Samuel Smiles, promulgated a philosophy of self-dependence as the key to improved economic and social betterment. They believed that personal success ought to be measured by a common standard, regardless of means, and that those who succeeded in life did so because of their hard work, thrift and ingenuity, while the poor suffered as a result of personal fecklessness. In simple terms, it was the individual's responsibility to pull himself up 'by the bootstraps' and exploit the opportunities available, rather than rely on others, or the state, for succour. Self-help was the key, encouraging those without adequate resources to believe that they could emulate outstanding individuals like Richard Arkwright, the twelfth son of a barber, who, by the time he died in 1792, owned large landed estates and had been knighted for his services to industry after a career as a successful industrial innovator.

One must treat much of this proselytising about the benefits of self-help with great caution, because while it is true to say that the myth of the self-made man and the ideology of self-help were deep-rooted in British public opinion, there were actually very few recorded cases of working class entrepreneurs in this period. In Suffolk there were only two native self-made entrepreneur engineers, Richard Garrett of Leiston and James Smyth of Peasenhall, both pioneers in the mass production of agricultural machinery. It was the very few successes that produced Smiles generalisations about the importance of self-help. Therefore, it is important to stress the contribution made by the lower middle classes to the growth of a business community at this time, because having started off with relatively modest capital resources most of these men were probably 'architects of their own fortunes'. Halesworth has several examples of people falling into this class. It is also important to stress that the belief in self-help was further compromised by economic reality. Extensive local social networks for the mobilisation of finance, talent, or information were utilised as an essential aid to management. These networks were primarily based on what has been described as a 'high-trust culture', which sustained the finely spread business structure prevailing at that time, and within the regional context especially, elite groups of businessmen collaborated extensively to reduce the transaction costs arising from the high levels of uncertainty. Religious groupings were especially successful in building up networks, particularly the Quakers and other non-conformists, who utilised their common bonds to build a mutually supportive infrastructure in the North East Suffolk linen industry. Religion, however, was by no means the only bonding agent at work from the mid-eighteenth century, because it was 'the region' that took on a crucial importance as an integrated unit. It provided not only the key factors of production and vital technical and commercial information, but also forged a community of interests. This regional dynamic was to become the abiding characteristic of Britain's first phase of industrialisation, and for businessmen struggling with market uncertainties and deficient knowledge, it provided and encapsulated a 'high-trust culture', which would minimise transaction costs external to the firm. In this context, the self-help philosophy had an important negative influence on business development at this time, largely because it placed so much emphasis on the individual as the key to success. This often led to a managerial constraint on business growth, through too much reliance on one man as an arbiter and decision maker. The ultimate failures of Smyths and Garretts are good examples of the original entrepreneurial force petering out in their founder’s descendants.

Halesworth was an epitome of this age of personal adventure with regard to individuals and their extensive regional networks. In particular, the importance of personal capital and the high trust culture are features that characterised the careers of Halesworth's local self-help hero, the industrious Scot, Patrick Stead, and William Jackson Hooker, a refined and well-born dilettante scientist. They dominated Quay Street, which was the town's new centre of ideas on how to make lots of fast money.

But the character of a place cannot be gathered from its exceptional figures. It is revealed in the lives of the typical and the humdrum that inhabited Chediston St, the Market Place and The Thoroughfare. These people are exemplified by Halesworth's manufacturers and traders, competent, self-assured and complacent, who were content with an order of things, which allowed them to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market. A third social group was the urban artisans for whom work was a monotonous round of disciplined toil. Then there were the tenant farmers enfranchised in 1832, but as tenants-at-will, they were often the political vassals of their landlord in the 'big house'. Such was the power of the Plumer’s and then the Parkyns’ of Chediston Hall. Finally, there was the labourer of the farm, who was politically voiceless and socially isolated. It has been said that this kind of social mix was a British civilization that had strength without grace. People worked hard and saved hard. They passed on the technique and the products of the new industrialism to other countries; they exported their capital, and a considerable fraction of their population, so that a big contribution to boost a world economy was made. On a national scale, the Great Exhibition of 1851 showed a solidity of achievement, which could not be mistaken. Up in Halesworth, the goings on in Quay Street were making a small, but significant contribution to this national whole. However, at the terminus of the scale of prosperity were the paupers of Chediston Street, where Halesworth displayed more than its fair share of family misery.
The continual rise in the population made it indeed impossible to provide work for everyone. Agriculture had absorbed all the hands it required, and many traditional kinds of rural occupation were disappearing. Great national industries, like cloth, were migrating back out of the country districts to which they had moved in the later Middle Ages and Tudor times, to the rapidly growing new industrial towns. The village was becoming more purely agricultural; it was ceasing to manufacture goods for the general market, and, moreover, was manufacturing fewer goods for itself. In this sense, the story of Halesworth as an economic island extends into the sea of village life that surrounded it. With the improvement of roads and communications, first the lady of the manor, then the farmer's wife and lastly the cottager learnt to buy in the town many articles that used to be made in the village or on the estate. The ' village shop ' was now often set up with goods from the cities or from overseas. The self-sufficing, self-clothing village, became more and more a thing of the past. This was a beginning of a process that dragged on to the last quarter of the 20th century. One by one the craftsmen began to disappear; the harness maker, the maker of agricultural implements, the tailor, the miller, the furniture maker, the weaver, sometimes even the carpenter and builder slipped away, till, at the end of the second World War, the village blacksmith was in some places the only craftsman left, eking out a declining business in horseshoes by mending the punctured bicycle tyres of tourists. Young lads, who in the 1930s were apprenticed to village craftsmen, such as harness makers, after the War found themselves in charge of tractors.

This time was also the birth of a mythical countryside fostered by those confined to the sparse greenery of urban streets. In the face of change, the life of the village children, let loose to play in the hedges, heaths and thickets, was conflated as being entirely wholesome and sweet. This was the first whiff of nostalgia for the countryside and its biodiversity as first depicted by Bewick, Wordsworth and Cobbet, who were actually people with boyhoods that were connected with the realities of a previous generation. William Howitt, George Borrow and other writers actually shared the life of the common people in lane, field and cottage during the 'twenties and 'thirties, and as successful popular authors they left a largely false impression of much widely diffused rural health and happiness. It is ironic that Halesworth's contribution to local economic and national intellectual development came from two contrasting aspects of its local natural resources, the intensive production of barley, and the scientific wealth of its untrammeled hedgerows and meadows, both of which were in opposition. In this respect, William Hooker and Patrick Stead, both temporary residents of the town, exemplify the two pillars of cultural ecology, the 'biological' and 'industrial', which are now starkly revealed as being in need of an economic bridge to conserve the country's green heritage assets.

4.3 Money from hemp

The production and weaving of hemp linen fibre has a very long history in Blything Hundred. The first indication that these were widespread activities in medieval times comes from a taxation list of 1342. In this year the laity were made liable for a ninth part of all tithable products. This one-off Royal tax to pay for a war against the French was collected from each parish, and those Blything parishes returning a tax on flax and hemp are shown in Fig. 4.4.

Fig. 4.4 Parishes of the Blything Hundred taxed on hemp and flax in 1342

About 45% of the communities were growing hemp or flax; the record does not distinguish between the two materials. It is significant that down to the 18th century about two thirds of these parishes were recorded from wills and inventories as having linen weavers. The latter evidence, collected and analysed by the local historian Nesta Evans for the entire county, emphasises the importance of North Suffolk in the production of linen cloth (Fig. 4.5.). Taking the county as a whole, about 60% of the villages had weavers. The total mapped area contains 82% of the villages in Suffolk where weavers made wills. In the area enclosed by the black line, about eight out of ten of the villages had weavers.

Elsewhere in England, where records are more abundant, it was the wool-manufacturing sector that was the first to show the effects of the boom in exports. But in economics, waves travel far when the expanding sector is a key one in the economy. English woollen shortcloth exports tripled between 1500 and 1550, and much arable land was turned over to sheep pasture. As the favourable economics of textile production spread through East Anglia, those places such as the Blyth valley, where there was an old tradition of growing hemp, saw an expansion of the local manufacture of Suffolk linen made from hemp fibre. Small fields were given over to hemp production, retting pits (to separate the fibres) were dug where there was a clay subsoil, and meadows were designated for the drying and bleaching of locally woven cloth. Although the evidence is patchy it seems that the production of Suffolk hempen cloth reached a peak in the 18th century following duties of around 50% imposed on French linen cloth.

Fig. 4.5 Distribution of linen weavers in North East Suffolk (adapted from the Historical Atlas of Suffolk)

Halesworth was well placed to participate in satisfying an intensification of the demand for home produced linen, and local families, who were prominent in town life during the 16th century, emerged in the 18th century hemp trade as weavers and drapers. Thomas Cox remarked on the impact of the hempen linen on Halesworth as a cottage industry around 1730:
‘The town is populous, and the Market good. There is plenty of linen yarn, which the women of the county spin, partly for the use of families, and partly for sale. Good commodity for trade’

The prosperity from trade in linen cloth is highlighted in two house inventories of the time, referring to Richard Wincop, a Halesworth grocer (1726), and Nathaniel Briggs. Briggs was a Blyford farmer, and probably a part-time producer of dressed hemp, who possessed 140 skeins of fine yarn at the time his death.

The brothers, Anthony and Henry Sones were late examples of this phase of development, who established businesses in Halesworth as weavers and dressers of cloth, during the last quarter of the 18th century. Local people were still investing in hemp during the first decade of the 19th century, but these enterprises did not fulfil their apparent promise. The momentum really came from the more favourable economics of the previous century. The number of weavers and drapers operating between 1800-30 (Table 4.1) could not be sustained. By the 1840s the retail trade was in decline and there are examples of weavers who were on workhouse relief. A few were taking up other livelihoods, and yet others were migrating to find work.

Table 4.1 Persons engaged in the hemp trade:1800-30 (Fordham, 2004)

Cloth maker
Garrod & Banks
Henry Hindes

Sarah Delf

John Mayhew

George Bardwell

Richard Smith

Paul Bowen

Nathaniel Minns

William Hutchinson

John Naylor

Edward Sparkball

James Aldred

James Aldred

Thomas Bardwell

John Paxman

Edward Hewitt

Henry Sones

Daniel Gobbett

Joseph Felmingham

John Hatcher

Henry Scarle

Charles Bardwell

Moses Moore

Thomas Bayfield

James Bishop

James Clark

Samuel Baker

Thomas Butler

John Chaston

Edward Brewster

Daniel Delf

James Tilmouth

Edward Seamon

Bracket Tilmouth snr.

Bracket Tilmouth jnr.

From all accounts the East Anglian hemp business began to fail in the last quarter of the 17th century, the decline first becoming obvious in West Suffolk. The pace of this decline accelerated in relation to the increased production of cheaper mass-produced cotton cloth from water-powered mills in the north of England. There was also growing competition from cheaper and better quality linen imports from Ireland. With regard to sackcloth and rope fibre, this was produced more cheaply from jute in the factories of Yorkshire and Scotland. The hempen cloth producers of Bungay turned to silk weaving but the Halesworth enterprises were on a smaller scale and were not adaptable to the changing economics of hemp.

According to Fordham, during the period of terminal decline between 1830 and 1842 the Halesworth hemp craft involved nine weavers, two hecklers, four dyers, two rope makers and two twine spinners. Ten years later, none of these occupations were listed in the 1851 census. However, the Halesworth hemp business continued for a while in the form of a manufactory for sacks, rope and twine run by Robert Peachey, and after his death in 1863, by his wife.

The only evidence to estimate the scale of family business in the Blyth valleys on the raw material side is to be found in the Tithe Apportionment (1839) for Bleach Farm, Wissett. Eight fields (about 7 acres) are described as ‘hempland’ Most of these were less than an acre and the largest was only about 2 acres. This use of small enclosures for growing hemp was typical of many Blything farms. Four more fields between 2 and 7 acres were designated at Wissett for the laying out of cloth for bleaching (total of 17 acres). In the 1820s this farm (84 acres) was leased to John Aldred. As a young man John appears to have entered the linen trade as a weaver. From his will of 1827, in addition to renting Bleach Farm, he also owned four properties for rent in Halesworth.

Bleaching was a slow and laborious process until the discovery of chlorine at the end of the 18th century (Fig. 4.6.). The method followed was to boil the cloth with ashes and then with sour milk. Thereafter it was exposed for long periods to sunlight until the required whiteness was obtained. Bleaching therefore tended to become a highly specialised rural business involving considerable outlay of capital and employment of large numbers of seasonal part time wage earners.

Fig. 4.6 Working in a bleachfield

Aldred’s hemp/linen enterprise was clearly an adjunct to a traditional ‘eighty-acre’ Suffolk arable farm, with some property dealing on the side. It is likely that his Halesworth operations were made possible by additional income from the hemp business. His accumulated assets were passed on to his sons. One, James, was probably the Halesworth linen weaver, with looms and a drapery in Chediston Street. James also had a farm at Sotherton. Another son Robert, who was the main legatee of his father’s will, and farmed in Wissett on a big scale, appears to have abandoned his father’s interest in hemp. He eventually gave up the lease on Bleach Farm, sold his property in Wissett, and moved to Norwich.

It is not known for certain how large the Halesworth hemp production system was at its peak in relation to that of the Waveney valley region. In particular, we have hardly any information about the situation during the 17th century, when the outlook appears to have been most favourable for investment. With regards the growing and processing of hemp in other Blything parishes, in addition to Wissett, out of twelve other contiguous parishes, nine had hemp designations in their field names included in the Tithe Apportionments, two had no such designations, and one had no named fields (Table 4.2). Four of these parishes had paid a hemp and flax tax in 1345. On the whole the evidence, such as it is, favours relatively small-scale operations satisfying a local market for cheap and durable materials for farmers and their labourers. This scale may be contrasted with the account of Suffolk hempen sailcloth in the Victoria County History. This has much to say about the production of cloth for sails, and to make sacks for transporting coal and grain, but little about hempen clothing. Sailcloth was exported in large quantities through Ipswich. This material appears to have been produced in the villages of West Suffolk during Elizabethan times. However, by the 18th century the large-scale manufacture of sailcloth had moved to towns north of the Wash. The reputed ‘sail loft’ in the Swan public house may be taken as evidence that Halesworth played a small part in sail-making, probably in association with the needs of the local community of bargees.

Table 4.2 Fields in 12 villages* with respect to ‘hemp’ designations in the Tithe Apportionment

Field No.
Field size (acres)





Retting Field

Retting Pit

Rotten Pit Meadow

Linstead Magna


Linstead Parva



Part of Hempland



Hempland Meadow








House & Hempland











*Huntingfield & Withersdale:- No fields named designated for Hemp. Walpole:- None of fields had names.

4.3.1 James Aldred; manufacturing draper

With respect to the decline of the Halesworth hemp trade, it is particularly interesting to study the Aldred family in relation to the trajectory of James Aldred’s Halesworth weaving/drapery business.

James’ place of birth is not known, but it appears from his age at death that he was born in 1778. Baptisms of his siblings begin in Wissett with Rachel, daughter of John and Mary Aldred (nee Nighton) in 1786. The actual baptisms of this family recorded for Wissett are:

Rachel 21.05.1786
Charlotte 22.07.1787 *
Robert 17.08 1788
Harriot 7.03.1790
Edward 12.01.1794 buried 25.05.1794
Robert 9.10.1794

The other village connected with the Aldreds at this time is Stratton St Mary in Norfolk. This comes to light through the marriage in Wisset of a James Aldred to Mary Aldred of Wissett. Their marriage indicates a union of cousins and suggests ancestral connections of the Stratton St Mary Aldreds with Wissett kinfolk. In the 1836 White's Directory for Stratton St Mary, a James Aldred was a corn miller. This only adds to the mystery of James Aldred’s birth, who would have been a contemporary of his namesake the miller, and the birthplace of his father John. Rachel was probably the second child of the aforementioned weaver John. There is an eight year gap between the birth of Rachel and her brother James, and this may be connected with the family origins in Stratton St Mary.

Shortly after her son Robert’s birth, Mary Aldred (nee Nighton) died, for on 2.10.1810 the Wissett Register records John Aldred, widower, marrying Jemima Clarke, a widow. A reciprocal connection between the Aldreds and Clarkes is evident from the marriage the previous day of John Clarke of Halesworth, Jemima’s son, to Charlotte* Aldred, John’s daughter.

John Aldred was buried in Wisset, age 74, 30.01.1829 and Jemima Aldred was also buried in the village, age 67, 19.06.1833. In John Aldred's will of 1829 one of his executors was John Clarke of Halesworth, baker, probably his son in law.

As a second generation entrepreneur, the turning point in James Aldred’s fortunes seems to have been around 1827 when, from the Court records, he borrowed £500 from Joseph Mayhew, a dissenting minister living in Wissett. This seems to have been an over-optimistic investment in marketing. He advertised his new enterprise in the Ipswich Journal of 1827 as a grocery, drapery, hosiery and haberdashery. Another advert in 1830 was for James Aldred’s ‘Real Suffolk Hemp Cloth Manufactory’. Reading between the lines it seems that he was having to reduce his prices, and in order to move stock, and had to share his profits with agents in Ipswich, Norwich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Beccles, Benhall, Stradbroke and Peasenhall. At the end of the decade his adverts proclaimed that he had moved to new premises in Halesworth Market Place and was promoting himself as a woollen draper and silk mercer, as well as a dealer in linen cloth manufactured in his own workshop. With regards his own production, he again stressed that he was selling hemp cloth at very reduced prices. Furthermore, he no longer had his network of local agents, and also appeared to have had difficulty in renting his old shop in Chediston St (‘the rent is very low’). The writing was well and truly on the wall for the extinction of Suffolk hempen linen when Thomas Leavold, a prominent Ipswich draper, kin of James Aldred and one of his former agents, declared that ‘he had a great assortment of Irish linens and sheeting as sound and strong as Suffolk Hemp for sale’.

The Leavolds appear to have originated in Beccles. The following baptisms are the register of Beccles Independent Church.

William and Sarah Leavold - Sarah 12.9.1786
- William Henry* 2.8.1792
- Thomas 10.2.1795
*James and Sarah Aldred named their second son William Henry

The executors of James Aldred's will were William Leavold (father or brother?) of Beccles and Thomas (brother?) Leavold of Ipswich)
Hemp and linen manufacturers were up against mass production Although hemp and flax fibres were more difficult to handle by machines than cotton, these technical problems were eventually conquered. By mid century, flax and hemp mills were producing great economies of scale (Fig. 4.7) and James Aldred in his small collection of sheds and buildings off Chediston St was helpless against the might of far distant factories.

Fig. 4.7. Interior of a flax mill in the 1850s

After James Aldred’s death in 1846, his executors were unable to sell the property in Chediston St, which was maintained by his wife as a grocery and drapery until she died in 1849. In the 1850s the shop and property was in the hands of Daniel Croft a master shoemaker, and had been adapted to house two additional families and seven lodgers.

It is clear from the above potted biographies of two generations of the Aldred family of entrepreneurs that the production and marketing of hempen cloth was not to be relied on to earn a living, let alone establish a commercial dynasty. This would also have been the verdict of the weavers, dyers and hecklers of Chediston St, who were classed as resident paupers in 1830. Nevertheless, at first sight things appeared to be looking up for a fresh economic cycle in the town, a pointer in this direction being the conversion of James Aldred’s old premises to house a new wave of immigrants. However, these were economic migrants from the countryside, fleeing from agricultural unemployment in search of non-existent jobs. Halesworth, like its hinterland was suffering an economic depression that was widespread through East Anglia.

Although the Aldreds abandoned the hemp trade, after James Aldred’s death, one of his sons William Henry took over his father’s drapery shop at the corner of the Thoroughfare and the Market Place. He went on to became the second of Halesworth’s self-made ‘millionaires’. This story is told in Chapter 5.

4.4 Money from malt

There was another Halesworth business cycle beginning at the time that the hempen cloth trade was in decline, and this was based on barley, the Suffolk clayland’s greatest asset of primary productivity. Production of barley by eleven contiguous Blything parishes in the 1840s is given in (Table 4.3). As now, the most profitable return for barley was as a source of malt for the brewing industry, and much of Hales worth’s 19th century development is taken up with the successful realisation of this potential.

Table 4.3 Comparative productivity of barley of parishes (totals per parish taken from their Tithe Apportionments of the 1840s)

Barley (bushels; 1 bushel = 8 gall. dry measure
Linstead Parva
Linstead Magna

In a national perspective the development of the malting industry was largely a product of rising demand for beer consequent upon the unpre­cedented increase in population after 1750, supplemented by more efficient transport and progressive urbanisation of consumers. During the eighteenth century, agriculture was the greatest prime mover of the national economy. In such an economy, where a successful harvest was so important, the brewing industry had a far greater significance than in the industrialised England of our own days, where barley is also a major source of food for intensive livestock production.

In European history, barley has always been the first mainstay of alcoholic fermentation. Barley grain is germinated in the dark so that the seed’s store of starch is converted to sugars suitable for yeast fermentation to yield beer. This process of controlled germination is called malting. In this perspective, malting experienced the application of mass production very early in the Industrial Revolution, to a process that until the 18th century had been a small-scale cottage affair serving the demand of neighbours.

4.4.1 East Anglia and malting
During the 16th to mid 19th centuries, malting developed from a domestic process centred on the retail production of beer for ale houses in villages and market towns, to the concentrated mass production systems of town and city breweries, which satisfied the needs of urban consumers. Family brewing, which for millennia had been a mainstay to make the drinking of water a safe, palatable and pleasurable experience, became all but extinct.

The revolution in processing the primary raw material that made possible the entire process of industrialisation of brewing can be studied with reference to two centuries in the socio-economic history of Halesworth. Locally grown barley provided the raw material, and the national economic driver for the development of the town was the increased demand of London breweries for East Anglian malt. The basic idea was that the mass malting of barley close to farms that grew it, added local value to the crop. To get what they wanted the London brewers had to fashion their own commercial links with these provincial producers, and penetrate new farming areas with the spearheads of direct demand. Crisp Brown, a well-known Norwich maltster and merchant in his own right, wrote to Whitbread, his London employer, in 1812:
  • "I find so much competition in our Market for fine barley that I have this week hired a Premises at Ranworth, where I shall meet the farmers every Monday, it is an excellent district for quality and quantity, and I expect frequently to purchase a good deal, the delivery being so very convenient for the Farmers in the neighbourhood of Blofield and South Walsham. I assure you I think myself very fortunate in serving such an excellent situation".
By such means did the development of urban demand and industrial efficiency in the brewing industry make themselves felt in the agricultural economy of Eastern England, where most of English malt was made. Indeed, Suffolk was its greatest producer of malt at the turn of the 18th century (Fig. 4.8).

Fig. 4.8. Malt production (bushels) in Eastern England 1801-2


4.5 Botanical riches

For more than a century, the processing of locally grown barley to serve the brewing industry was the dominant industrial activity in Halesworth. The timelines of the six main Halesworth enterprises that processed these botanical riches are summarised in Table 4.4.

Table 4.4 The major maltings in Halesworth 1750 to 1890

Woodcock’s Bridge St Brewery
Prest’s Quay St Maltings
Prime,s Bungay Rd Maltings and Brewery
George’s River Side Maltings
Knight’s Angel Yard Maltings
Parry’s Station Yard Maltings
1770 built for John Woodcock

C 1750 Built for Thomas Knights

1792 Development of Creek Side Quay

1809 Bought by Dawson Turner and William Hooker
1801 Built for Messrs Prest, London corn factors.Managed by Hammond Ringwood

1821 Sold to Patrick Stead & John Robinson*, and enlarged.
Bought by Ringwood after Prest’s

1837 Enlarged with new malthouse and kilns
1839 Sold to Patrick Stead and enlarged
1839? Built for Edward Prime?

1845? Built for Thompson George
1845? Owned by William Atmer

1850 Sold to Truman Hanbury Managed by Robert Burleigh
1850 Sold to Truman HanburyManaged by Robert Burleigh

? Sold to Messrs Croft & Flick

1883 Managed by James Parry
1883 Managed by James Parry
1866 New malthouse built

1890 Built by James Parry
*Also owned maltings in South Norfolk and East Suffolk

The two people associated with this trade who stand out, as having risen above the confines of their provincial environment are William Jackson Hooker and Patrick Stead. The former used his position as managing director of the Bridge St Brewery as a base from which to launch an outstanding career as a professional botanist of national note. His life was devoted to promoting the botanical riches of global biodiversity. Stead, in contrast, used his excellent managerial skills, coupled with exceptional inventiveness and drive, to generate above average wealth from controlling the biochemistry of germination, which he dispensed with great generosity for the long-standing benefit of his adopted townsfolk. Neither Hooker nor Stead was self-made in the sense that they both started life with sufficient family resources to take advantage of local and national networks. This enabled them, with luck in their favour, to seize opportunities not available to most people. They in fact came together in an unlikely conjunction in 1821, when Hooker’s share of the Bridge Street business was up for sale consequent upon his appointment to the Regius Chair of Botany at Glasgow University. Stead bought the concern as an addition to his growing collection of maltings scattered through South Norfolk and North East Suffolk.

4.5.1 Badeleys and Woodcocks
There are questions still remaining as to the origins of the Bridge St Brewery, but the story seems to begin with the Badeley’s of Walpole. They were one of the founding families of Halesworth’s fortunes, who in the 1750s had property interests in Halesworth and were in business exporting barley, wheat and malt and importing coal. In 1765, Samuel Badeley the younger described himself as a wholesale brewer. It is possible that it was the Badeleys who built the Bridge St Brewery and a residence for the manager, known as Brewery House, in the 1760s. It was about this time that the Woodcocks, father and son, arrived in Halesworth from Harleston, where they were drapers, with a farming enterprise in Pulham Market. They settled in a property called The Mansion House in the Market Place, which they purchased from John Durban. When it went to auction on 1799 it was described in the Ipswich Journal of 13th July 1799 with:-

  • "vestibule, good stairs, breakfast Dining and drawing rooms 20 x 18 feet each, kitchen, offices, cellar, shop. 6 chambers and closets, 3 garrets, chaise house, stable, garden etc. situated in the centre of Halesworth, a suitable dwelling for a merchant or banker with a large family, for many years in the occupation of John D'Urban".

In any event, it was by way of the Bridge Street brewing enterprise that Badeley went into partnership with John Woodcock the younger. By the end of the century Badeley and Woodcock were Halesworth bankers, and it was this precarious financial arrangement that brought the pair to bankruptcy in 1799.

The Halesworth Trade Directory of 1793 lists John Woodcock as a maltster and brewer. In his will of 25 Nov 1802 (he died Dec 1801) there is mention of his interests as a common brewer, liquor merchant and farmer. According to Rachel Lawrence’s research, the Woodcocks in this period lived in a mansion off the old Bungay Rd (site now occupied by Magnolia House in Station Rd). She drew this conclusion from a perusal of the deeds. However, in the 2006 description of this property given in the Council’s appraisal of the town’s conservation area, Magnolia House is described as having been built after 1841 for a parson. So it is not at all clear where John Woodcock lived at the time of his death. On the other hand, Michael and Sheila Gooch believe that he occupied Red House in Bridge Street.

Red House was one of Woodcock’s properties, copyhold of Rectory Manor, a spacious dwelling in Bridge St, to the east of the Congregational Church, in the grounds of which there was the source of the brewery’s water supply. The latter makes it likely that Badeley or Woodcock as part of the Bridge Street Brewery development built Red House. This property eventually came up for sale in 1811, together with a farm in Pulham Market (the genealogical homeland of the Woodcocks), a freehold dwelling at Southwold, and lands with growing crops in Halesworth.
In 1803, the two Turner brothers and Samuel Paget, another Yarmouth financier, bought the Bridge Street Brewery, along with some public houses and an associated villa called the "Brewery House" from Woodcock’s executors. We do not know whether Woodcock had lived in Brewery House or Red House.

The Court Book for 1852 states that the ‘Red House’, together with a stable, chaise-house and outbuildings, then unoccupied, was purchased by the 15 directors of the Halesworth Savings Bank, one of whom was Patrick Stead. The Red House, having had the role of a temperance hotel, was demolished when the eastern bypass and roundabout were constructed.

The Court Book of Rectory Manor records that in 1809 the same partnership paid £28,000 for copyhold property that had been surrendered to Elizabeth Woodcock from John Woodcock the younger. It is from several copyhold transfers during this time that it seems that Rectory Manor had many pockets of land in the Quay St/Bungay Rd area which consisted of closes and pightles with named messuages, such as the King’s Head and Nag’s Head public houses.

4.5.2 William Jackson Hooker
The life of William Jackson Hooker is a sharp commentary on the complex social mix that comprised England’s ‘high trust culture’ at the turn of the 18th century. Financiers, intellectuals, retailers and artisans lived together, cheek and jowl, up and down England in small towns like Halesworth, yet maintained independent streams of wealth, intellect and mobility. Biological science was largely in the hands of gifted amateurs, usually in receipt of sufficient wealth from a previous generation of entrepreneurs to indulge their personal interests in collecting, travelling and writing. Such was the life of William Hooker, who’s brief contact with Halesworth, reveals much about the role of inheritance, luck and opportunism that set careers in motion from small beginnings to the very heights of the English scientific establishment. Attitudes to science were changing. In particular there was a growing need for well-trained specialists to research the worlds natural resources upon which the British industrial revolution depended. By the time William Hooker’s son had followed his father into the directorship of Kew Gardens, botanical science was part of a professional scientific establishment, and the age of the amateur contributor was rapidly fading.

William Hooker was born in Norwich July 6th 1785. He was educated at the local grammar school and later at Starston Hall, where he learned estate management. His uncle and godfather, William Jackson of Kent, left him a considerable fortune, allowing the young man time to pursue a single-minded idiosyncratic interest in botany. It may be said that his scientific career really began when, during his ramblings through the Norfolk countryside, he discovered a moss, which appeared to be unknown to science. The national expert on mosses and algae was the Yarmouth banker, brewer, botanist and antiquary, Dawson Turner, and it was Turner who confirmed that it was indeed a new species, which was subsequently named Buxbaumia aphylla. Hooker’s domestic and professional life was from then on closely tied to that of Turner and his family.

Dawson Turner was born at Great Yarmouth on 18 October 1775 to the brewer-banker James Turner and Elizabeth Cotman, the only daughter of John Cotman, mayor of Yarmouth. He received his early education at the public grammar school and afterwards privately by Reverend Robert Forby, a botanist of some ability, from who it is believed that Turner might have acquired his penchant for botany. He entered Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1793, only to leave a year later maybe in part because his father was ill. His father died that same year. Following in his father's footsteps, he joined the family’s Yarmouth Bank in 1796. During the same year, Turner married Mary Palgrave by whom he had 11 children. The fortune left to him by his father gave Turner the opportunity to pursue his foremost interests, botany, more specifically cryptogamic botany, and also the study of antiquities. At this time the scientific establishment was composed of gifted amateurs with independent means or rich patrons. As part of this national network of experts, Norwich was an important regional centre for research in natural history.

Turner devoted most of his leisure time to botanical tours. In 1799 for instance he made an extensive progress through the western counties in England and on his return published a catalogue of the rare plants collected on the expedition. In the following years he visited and collected in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Turner was most notably interested in mosses, lichens, and algae, describing in publications four new species of lichens between 1802 and 1804. Between 1797 and 1803 he was elected a fellow of the Linnaean Society, the Imperial Academy, the Royal Society, and the Society of Antiquaries. His earliest papers reveal that he was a field-oriented person. Living by the sea, he was able to carry out observations on the seaweeds of the shore, year-round, and thus in 1800 he contributed one of the first-ever studies on the life history of seaweeds. Turner published numerous works on the subject of botany including, The Botanist's Guide through England and Wales and the Natural History of Fuci. He also contributed several articles to the Transactions of the Linnaean Society and formed large specimen collections, predominantly of seaweeds. At the turn of the century, when he was producing his monograph on British seaweeds, he asked William Hooker to prepare the drawings for the first two volumes. These were published in 1802 entitled Synopsis of the British Fuci. This was the year when Turner was elected a member of the Royal Society.

As a result of Hooker’s discovery of Buxbaumia aphylla, and a growing friendship with Turner, Hooker was elected a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in 1806, at the age of twenty-one. Over a thirteen-year period, starting in 1806, he became practically a member of the Turner family, staying in "Bank House" Yarmouth and eventually completing 234 plates of the total of 258 plates in the Fuci , the last volume of which was published in 1819. In 1812 the Turners persuaded the Norwich artist John Sell Cotman to settle in Yarmouth, and they arranged for him to tutor their daughters in draftsmanship and water colouring. Turner had the means to serve as the lifelong patron to Cotman and essentially had a "cottage industry" under his roof. Drawings and etchings by his wife and six daughters enriched his publications. In the summer of 1814 Turner travelled with his wife and two of his daughters (Maria and Elizabeth) along with Hooker to Paris. This was the first time English citizens were allowed to set foot on French soil because of the preceding years of the Napoleonic wars. The party was able to visit the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle and to attend meetings of the "Academie des sciences". Also at those meetings were such celebrated scientists of the time as Lamarck, de Jussieu, Alexander von Humboldt, and Labillardière.

At about this time, Halesworth was brought into William Hooker’s vision through Dawson Turner’s links with the town as a financier, with a branch of his bank in The Thoroughfare managed by his brother James. James, was probably also managing the Bridge St Brewery, which had been bought by the Yarmouth partnership in1803. By 1809 it appeared to Dawson Turner that his friend William Hooker was in need of a business arrangement to stabilise his domestic situation and he and his partners agreed to offer Hooker a quarter share in their Halesworth business. The offer was made on Hooker’s return from an expedition he made to Iceland on behalf of Sir Joseph Banks, who at that time was associated with the embryonic Kew Gardens. An important feature of the partnership was that Hooker was to move to Halesworth and superintend the day to day running of the brewery. It was clear to Hooker that his godfather’s legacy was not going to be sufficient to maintain his independence, and, investing most of his inheritance to the venture, he took up residence in Brewery House in November 1809. His special relationship with Dawson Turner grew closer when he married Turner's eldest daughter, Maria, in 1815. The couple set up home in Brewery House where two boys, William Dawson, and Joseph Dalton, and also two daughters, Maria and Elizabeth were born.

From his base in Halesworth, Hooker continued networking through the Linnaean Society, and in particular he appears to have cultivated a good relationship with Sir Joseph Banks. Banks had been the first director of Kew Botanical Garden since 1772. He obviously thought highly of Hooker’s scientific abilities when he sponsored him in the expedition to Iceland, all expenses paid. After the expedition, he even offered him unpublished notes from his own expedition in 1722, as almost all of Hooker's collections and notes had been destroyed in a shipboard fire from which he had barely escaped with his life. With Joseph Banks' support, William Hooker was able to realise his true vocation by obtaining the Regius Chair of Botany at Glasgow University. He left Halesworth for Glasgow in 1821.

His departure coincided with the sale of the Brewery enterprise, and this is documented in a series of notices in the Ipswich Journal in February and March 1821. The property in Halesworth was probably his quarter share in the Yarmouth partnership and is summarised in the newspaper entry for February 3, 1821. The sale notice states that the beer brewery and public houses were for sale ‘in consequence of the death of the resident partner’. The partner was probably James Turner the banker, who died in Halesworth aged 33, and was buried on January 7th 1820. In other words, when Hooker left for Glasgow, there would be no member of the Yarmouth partnership left in Halesworth who could take up the business.

In detail the sale consisted of 15 public houses, with another 3 on lease, the brewery, a counting house from which the business was conducted, and a nearly new maltings. There was also a ‘genteel dwelling house, with gardens, vinery etc. adjoining the premises’. On March 3rd it was announced that the inns and public houses, together with a piece of upland pasture (Linstead), and a malthouse with two cottages adjoining (in the Angel Yard) were to be auctioned on 14th March. At the same time there was to be sold ‘a comfortable and very excellent family residence with large-well appointed garden, hot house and vinery’. This is very likely to be the property referred to above as a ‘gentile dwelling house’. W. J. Hooker was in occupation and on March 10th the Ipswich Journal carried the following description of it.
  • A comfortable and very excellent FAMILY RESIDENCE, substantially brick-built and sash fronted; comprising a neat vestibule, staircase with area, mahogany hand rail, handsome drawing-room, dining-room and breakfast room, 4 principal bed-rooms and dressing-rooms, water closet, servants room, housemaid’s closet and attics, a second staircase, capital kitchen, butler’s pantry, store room, cook’s pantry, wash house, in which there is a new lead pump, a forcing pump with pipes to supply the upper floors, excellent cellarage, usual domestic offices. Large pleasure and kitchen gardens, walled round and planted with choice wall and standard fruit trees, abundantly cropped with every description of seasonable vegetation, good green house, communicating with the dining room and vinery The Premises are in a complete state of repair, having been lately re-built and improved at considerable expense, are fitted up with much neatness, judiciously arranged, and well connected, containing ample accommodation for a highly respectable family, now in the occupation of W.J. Hooker, Esq. who will give immediate possession.
We learn several important things from this description. First the house was very large; second, it had been recently rebuilt; third, important architectural features were singled out that were probably part of the rebuild. These included the main staircase with a mahogany rail, a neat vestibule and the front with its sash windows. These are features that can be located in present day Hooker house, and taken together, they indicated a building date circa 1810. The gentle pitched overhanging roof, the railed first floor rear veranda, the elongated ‘floor to ceiling’ rectangular windows, white-brick façade, the rectangular brick pillars, and the iron balustrade of the central staircase with its mahogany rail, epitomise a stripped down version of the grand Regency style. The source of the money for this makeover for the newly-weds may well have been Maria Turner’s dowry.

Other Hooker property that was listed for sale on 19th March 1821 consisted of livestock, implements and furnishings of a farm at Holton.
We owe to William Hooker’s youngest son, Joseph, a glimpse of family events in Halesworth, Yarmouth and Norwich on the eve of the family’s departure to Glasgow. These are his earliest recollections. He was four years old when the family left Brewery House and his reminiscences are preserved in an autobiographical fragment, set down late in his life.

“I was born [he writes] June 30, 1817, at Halesworth, Suffolk, being the second child and son of William Jackson Hooker and Maria, nee Turner, of Great Yarmouth. My brother was older than myself and my parents had subsequently three daughters. I was named Joseph after my Grandfather Hooker, and Dalton after my godfather, the Rev. James Dalton, M.A., F.L.S., Rector of Croft, Yorkshire, a student of carices and mosses and discoverer of Scheuchzeria in England.

My memory reverts to a very early age-when only three years old to my father's house at Halesworth, and incidents connected therewith, amongst others the gardener, in mowing a damp meadow behind the house, slicing the frogs with his scythe, and my brother running along the top of the garden wall to my mother's alarm. He died in 1840. Curiously enough I have no recollection of a magnificent dog, a Newfoundland I believe, that my father kept, and which was notorious for its thefts from the butchers' shops of the town.

My Grandfather Hooker's house in Magdalen Street, Norwich, I remember even better, where my grandmother used to show me the glazed drawers of his insect cabinet. On leaving Halesworth for Glasgow, my father sold his insects to Mr. Sparshall of that city, a well known
collector. The collection is now in the Norwich Museum. Also I well remember his little garden and greenhouse of succulent plants, and on seeing a Coccinella on a post, repeating to it the stave:

Bishop Bishop Barnabee
When will your marriage be?
If it be to-morrow's day,
Take your wings and fly away.

Of my Grandfather Turner's house in Yarmouth, I remember being carried there in my nurse's arms early in 1821, on the eve of my mother taking myself, brother and sisters to Glasgow, where my father, who had taken up his Professorship in the previous summer, was awaiting us. My grandfather occupied the house of Gurney's Bank, of which he was a resident Director. I remember distinctly the railings before the Bank, its drawing-room, and my aunts' seizing me from my nurse, dancing with me round the room, and striking the harp to amuse me. Also I remember the walls of the room being covered with pictures of which my grandfather had a small but very choice collection. This collection was sold after my grandfather's death in 1858. Some of the pictures, notably the Titian, a Hobbema and, I think, a Greuze and one or more Cotmans are in the Wallace Collection.

Of the journey from Yarmouth to Glasgow by post horses I have a distinct recollection, during which my mother caught ague in crossing the Fens, with which she was troubled for many years. Of incidents I can only remember my brother running to eat a cake of white soap, mistaking it for an apple. I also distinctly remember the picturesque place, Inn of Beattock Bridge, in Dumfriesshire, but why I cannot tell.
My next memory is the arrival in Glasgow by night, and going into lodgings (No. 1, Bath Street) which my father had taken pending his obtaining possession of a new house which he had purchased in West Bath Street (No. 17), in which lodgings I found my Grandfather and Grandmother Hooker, who had accompanied or followed my father to Glasgow with a mass of furniture from the Halesworth and Norwich houses, on some bedding from which I slept, for the first night, on the floor.”

Mea Allen in her book on the Hooker family published in 1967 refers to Joseph’s birthplace as ‘Brewery House’. She has a photograph of it taken in 1930 by Prof. F.W. Oliver when he attended a gathering to unveil a plaque to the Hookers in the parish church. The caption states:
“The window of the room in which Joseph Dalton Hooker was born is the upstairs one second to the right”

Other important information from the particulars of the 1821 sale, are that the maltings seem to have been a recent development, and there was a counting house, which was described as an integral part of the commercial complex. The latter is probably the ‘manager’s house’ mentioned in Pevsner’s ‘The Buildings of England: Suffolk’, 1961; rev. 1975’, where in the entry for Halesworth is the following description of the maltings opposite the Congregational Church:
  • “The continuation of Thoroughfare is Bridge Street, and from this, past the bridge, QUAY STREET turns off, where opposite the CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of 1836 is THE MALTINGS, a very picturesque group of buildings round a courtyard. The little quay at the back still exists under a wide archway (On a keystone adjoining Creek Side the date 1792. DoE). The manager’s pretty house also faces the courtyard”.
The heart of this collection of buildings was probably the Badeley/Woodcock brewer. The ‘pretty’ manager’s house referred to by Pevsner could have been the courtyard house, known as ‘Creek Side’. The site of the courtyard, Creek Side, and quay is now occupied by a close of private houses.

Regarding the winding up of the Yarmouth partnership’s interests in Halesworth, in 1821, the Rectory Manor minutes record that £850 was paid by the Rev Lombe Athill to Samuel Paget, Dawson Turner, Charlotte Turner and William Jackson Hooker, brewers and co-partners for the absolute purchase of copyhold hereditaments (2 messuages, one stable and a pightle of land called Taynt Close). The premises had been transferred to James Paget from Samuel Badeley in 1811 and this was probably one of the last remnants of the co-partnership’s commercial involvement in Quay St.

4.5.3 Botanical imperialism
William Hooker’s move into academia coincided with a shift in his father-in-law’s interests. After 1820, Dawson Turner seems to have directed his attention to the study of antiquities. He gave the whole of his herbarium to his son-in-law, with possibly his most notable antiquarian contribution the, Account of a Tour in Normandy, undertaken chiefly for the purpose of investigating the Architectural Antiquities of the Duchy. His daughters illustrated this.

Many of his family's drawings supplemented the nearly 8,000 volumes that comprised Turner's extensive personal library. The library was a leading interest throughout his life, and he continued to collect books nearly to the end. He was also an avid collector of manuscripts. His collection included the literary and scientific correspondence of many prominent men such as, Sir Isaac Newton, John Pinkerton, and Henry Baker, as well as some 25,000 autographed letters. He continued to work as a banker in Yarmouth until 1851 when, after his wife had died, he married a woman, whom his family did not approve, causing him to move to London. In 1855 Turner's health began to fail and he died in London on 21 June 1858.

During this time, William Hooker seems to have detached himself completely from his East Anglian roots. During the twenty-one years of his tenure at Glasgow, he not only revitalised the botany department but also developed the city's botanical gardens. When his son Joseph was six years old, he would accompany his father to the university almost every day and attend his lectures. Although he was immensely popular as a professor, William Hooker found that his income was not sufficient to support his growing family.

The opportunity to move upwards, financially and scientifically came in 1841 when there was a vacancy for the directorship of Kew Botanical Gardens. For some years the Gardens had been in something of a managerial crises, and in 1838, one year after Victoria came to the throne, the decline was so serious that the Treasury appointed a full-scale commission to enquire into the state of the Gardens. The committee, headed by Dr John Lindley, was strongly critical of the current management and recommended that Kew 'should either be at once taken for public purposes, gradually made worthy of the country, and converted into a powerful means of promoting national science, or it should be abandoned'. The report had clear ideas, too, about Kew's wider role:
  • 'A national garden ought to be the centre round which all minor establishments of the same nature should be arranged . . . receiving their supplies and aiding the Mother Country in everything that is useful in the vegetable kingdom. Medicine, commerce, agriculture, horticulture, and many valuable branches of manufacture would benefit from the adoption of such a system... Government would be able to obtain authentic and official information on points connected with the founding of new colonies; it would afford the plants these required'.
This is in tune with a general Victorian sentiment that examination systems and scientific endeavours should be aimed at providing specialists to further Britain’s command of the world’s natural resources. At first the government resisted Lindley's report but eventually it gave in to public and scientific pressure. In 1841 Kew was put under the control of the Commissioner of Woods and Forests. It was by exercising his many connections and influences that in 1841 William Hooker, who by that time had received a knighthood, took over the management of Kew and was appointed as Director. It seems that this happened after complex and protracted machinations to secure the position, and deny his serious competitor John Lindley that honour. Under Hooker’s energetic leadership Kew began to flourish again, and the linking of science, public interest and colonial expansion recommended in the report (and implicit in Kew since its beginning) was made official policy. The scientific expertise was strengthened and the Gardens expanded up to nearly 200 acres. They were thrown open to the public, and to the insatiably curious Victorians became one of the most popular pleasure resorts in London.

Kew was suddenly at the hub of all kinds of botanical enterprise. It was again sending out plant collectors and helping to familiarize ordinary gardeners with the new plants they brought back. It advised and staffed a growing network of botanical gardens in the colonies. At home it was the scene of an almost continuous botanical spectacle of global biodiversity: giant cacti, aroids, water lilies and orchids such as Cattleya skinneri, six feet high and bearing 1,500 flowers.

Botanical illustration flourished once more at Kew, not least because Hooker was himself an enthusiastic and proficient artist, an innate skill that he had successfully developed in his early rambles in Norfolk, and honed in Brewery House as a scientific illustrator. Since 1834 he had been editor and principal illustrator of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, an illustrated journal started by William Curtis in 1787, and intended for 'such ladies, gentlemen and gardeners, as wish to become scientifically acquainted with the plants they cultivate'. From the beginning of W.J. Hooker's directorship, Curtis's Botanical Magazine has maintained a relationship of varying degrees of closeness with Kew. In 1984 it was relented as the Kew Magazine, with the intention of paying special attention to plant ecology and conservation. Throughout these two centuries the tradition of using original coloured paintings as illustrations has been maintained, and the magazine has been a showcase for most of the finest botanical artists associated with Kew over these years.

William Jackson Hooker was a singularly social creature who cultivated many important friendships and maintained life-long correspondences with many of them. Over the years he was able to use his considerable charm and tact to expand the garden by acquiring many of the surrounding royal grounds, as well as initiate the construction of several glasshouses, including the famous Palm House, and organize the garden's beds in a more logical and scientific manner. He was also largely responsible for opening a greater portion of the garden for public viewing. He maintained his position as director until his death in 1865, at which time his son, by then Sir Joseph Hooker, took over as Director. Joseph had gained an independent reputation as a field botanist and plant illustrator that was equal to, or even higher than that of his father. He made a significant impact upon the study of the embryo science of plant biogeography in his travels through India and the Himalaya, and his collections, particularly of Rhododendrons, have enriched temperate gardens the world over. There was no thought of conservation at this time. His expeditions pillaged literally tons of living material on porter’s trains a hundred strong at times. Seven loads of a single orchid species were taken from their habitat in this way. Very few of these cargoes of living material survived the journey back to England. This was indeed an age when Earth seemed a vast unexplored storehouse filled with limitless natural resources, ready for the taking. It is interesting now to contemplate this lost world through Joseph’s evocative drawings and his exciting accounts of his perilous journeys through an exotic Indian sub-continent, and at the same time remember the long-lasting impact made on his young mind by the wet pastures on the banks of the Blyth behind Brewery House.

4.6 Barley business

In the 18th century most of total malt exports of England and Wales went through the Norfolk ports of Yarmouth, Lynn, Wells, Blakeney and Cley. In the period 1738 to 1780 Norfolk’s production ranged from 96 to 79% of the total. Of these ports, Yarmouth’s malt exports were by far the greatest (about 50% of Norfolk’s production), most of which was sent to Holland. The key to Yarmouth’s success was that it was at the head of the comprehensive Broadlands network of waterways, the arms of which reached deep into Norfolk’s upland cereal farms.

Unfortunately, comparable figures for malt exports are not available for Suffolk, but it is known that the ports of Aldeburgh, Dunwich, Walberswick, Southwold and Woodbridge were all involved with grain exports, although in contrast to the Norfolk shipments, as much wheat as barley and malt was being sent coastwise, invariably to London. If Halesworth was to become involved in the mass-production and export of malt, it had to have improved preferential communications with its local port of Southwold. As it happened, the main investment of money and know-how came from Yarmouth, via the Lacon family business, which had pioneered the combined development of malting with brewing and banking in Yarmouth and Norwich. The family also controlled the local consumption of beer, for by the 1780s the Lacons of Yarmouth had nineteen public houses valued among their assets, being among the first to invest in the ‘tied trade’.

Southwold is the nearest port to Halesworth, and from the earliest of times Halesworth merchants dealing with bulk products, such as lime, coal, timber and grain, had to rely on road transport by horse-drawn wagons to reach the ships involved with coastal trade between Suffolk’s ports and London. As far as Halesworth is concerned, this meant using the quays of Southwold Harbour at the mouth of the Blyth, or the Reydon and Wolsey Bridge quays, which were linked to the sea through Southwold harbour by way of Buss Creek (Fig. 4.9) The most important factor for the economic development of Halesworth was therefore an efficient link with these quays.

Fig. 4.9 Wolsey Bridge and Reydon quays (from Hodskinson’s map of 1783)

At the start of the 18th century the Reydon quays were owned by the ancient Platers family of Sotterley, and in the 17th century a London branch of the family ran a fleet of sloops, schooners and sailing barges on the Thames and along the coastal waters. The first record of development at the quays is the improvements made by Sir John Platers of Sotterley round about 1740. The first local merchant to use them intensively was William Lenny, a yeoman farmer of Sotherton. Lenny dealt in timber, the production of burnt lime, and grain exports. He had granaries at Reydon and traded from Reydon with Yarmouth and London. At this time, the townsfolk of Southwold and the Reydon merchants were very much concerned with the natural processes of wind and tide that were blocking the mouth of the Blyth with shingle and silt. Efforts were made in 1741 to raise capital to improve the situation with harbour works. This was of great interest to those using the Reydon quays, which were the traditional outlet for local merchants in adjacent parishes, such as Wangford, who also dealt in grain and timber. Miles Barne, who bought the Sotterley estates from the Platers, together with William Lenny, backed plans to stabilise Southwold Harbour, and Lenny supervised the construction of a new South Pier in 1751. On Lenny’s death in the 1790s, a local family, the Barfoots, took over his interests in Reydon. It was probably the Barfoots, together with the Reeves of Wangford, who led the merchant interest in backing an idea to canalise the Blyth and link Halesworth directly with Southwold Harbour. Having a water link with Halesworth would stimulate trade with farmers and villagers in the hinterland of the Blyth catchment. This project would also boost the development of large-scale malting as the most profitable use to which locally grown barley could be put. Indeed, Robert Reeve of Wangford was a prime mover in tapping into Blything’s barley production for the beginnings of large-scale malting and brewing in Halesworth during the 1750s. At the same time it was to the malting properties of barley, that Blything farmers turned their attention, encouraged by London brewers anxious to maximise the efficiency and quality of their raw materials.

There is no doubt that trade in locally produced barley provided the economic spine for the development of Halesworth. This is summarised in the following time-line (Table 4.5). It is a sequence of events that turned Halesworth from a small, relatively impoverished closed manorial community, straddling an important bridging point on the road from Harleston to the port of Southwold, into a thriving 19th century market town, replete with many fine brick built middle class residences and commercial premises.

Table 4.5 Timeline of the development of brewing and malting in Halesworth (based on research of Michael Fordham)


In the Halesworth Tax List of 1568 John Pryme held lands to the value of £1, while Robert Pryme had goods to the value of £7. In 1577 John Pryme’s property included a cottage and house next to the Angel Inn, butcher’s stalls in the market and six and a half acres of land, mostly in Chediston St. Robert’s property included the Angel tenement and 21 acres of land.


John Pryme the elder was a churchwarden and another John Pryme lived at the Angel Inn.


Mr Pryme was at the Lyon Inn and Robert Pryme at the Angel; both men were probably retail or victualling brewers.

John Browne is described as a common brewer late of the White Hart.

There were 10 brewers, innkeepers and victuallers in the town.


John Prime the younger died leaving his property to his daughter Alice. His will mentions an inventory of the attached brewhouse, namely one copper and guld set (tub for fermenting), one mash vat, one wort vat, and underbecke or spout, a cooler and two forms.


There were 6 inns and taverns in Halesworth including the Angel, Lyon, Kings Arms and White Hart. There were two common brewers, George Meeke and Thomas Thurston. Thomas Thurston, brewer in his will left his wife £50 and his eldest son £20.


Francis Rushmere, widow bequeathed to her son ‘a pair of mill stones, one brewing tub, three shallow tubs, four beer vessels, a half barrel and a copper couldron’.

John Wigg brewer


Manor of Halesworth Minute Book: Nathaniel Chilston and Walter Winston were chosen as ale founders and tasters for the Town of Halesworth. They were provided with ‘One Winchester quart and one pint of pewter, a set of weights ranging from a quarter of an once to eight pounds, a book of directions for officers, one brand to mark the measure and a pair of brass scales’.


Thomas Woodward maltster (Halesworth?)


Robert Rufhurst brewer


Thomas Gooch brewer also owner of the Beer Hall


John Jefferson, maltster (Halesworth ?)


Inventory of William Barfoot, alehouse keeper and brewer. The inventory of his possessions made after his death in 1705 provides a description of his ale-house. It was small containing hall and parlour with two chambers above, and only the hall and hall chamber were heated. There was also a garrett in the roof, a buttery and wash house in a backhouse behind the ground floor rooms, and a cellar possibly below the hall. The beer was drunk in the hall as it contained one table two stools and fourteen chairs. The beer was provided in pewter tankards and pots, ranging in size from a half-pint to a quart. In the backhouse rooms were the brewing vessels. These were a ‘tyn boiler and cover, one iron pott, two old tubbs, three keelers, two empty half barrells and four empty barrells.’ In the cellar were ‘two barrells of beer one decayed.’ The value of the whole inventory was £29 9s 0d, Ranked according to wealth, ale-house brewers were just above poor labourers and widows (whose inventories ranged in value from £15-£20). They were of similar status to shoemakers (£32) but well below farmers (£79-£400) and merchants (£181-£443). William Barfoot may have been related to Robert Barfoot a Reydon merchant. In the 1770s Robert was working lime kilns and importing coal for domestic use from his quay at Wolsey Bridge. He lived at Kiln Farm, Reydon, which was linked by lanes and tracks to the communities of Henham and Wangford. In 1775 he shipped 9,800 quarters of grain to London, of which half of this was barley or malt.


Samuel Pallant brewer

1731 John Moor maltster, Daniel Scholding maltster.


The initiation of Thomas Knight’s brewery and malting enterprise at the ‘Angel’ and ‘Angel Yard’.


John Skimming brewer, owned the George


Thomas Knights maltster and brewer


Crisps of Wangford. Yeoman farmers. John Crisp (dissenter of the Independent Church, later ‘Congregationalist’, died 1778) of Elms Farm. John and his brother William married daughters of the Rector of Wrentham, John Steffe. Widow of Rector, acting on the last wishes of her husband, transferred to the Independent Church with her family. John Crisp exported barley to London on a substantial scale. Had 6 sons and 1 daughter. John’s son, Steffe, sold Elms Farm and maltings to Lord Rous. They were then tenanted by Robert Reeve.


Inventory of Phillip Knights beer brewer, also innholder of the White Lion (uncle of Thomas Knights of the Angel/Angel Yard alehouse, brewery and store.


John Skimming brewer owned the Red Cow


Robert Reeve of Wangford married a daughter of Richard Smith, timber merchant of Sotherton. Moved to Halesworth in the 1750s where he became established as brewer and maltster.


Robert Reeve took lease of maltings in Pound Pightle (Soap House Hill Maltings; ‘Elephant House’ built on part of site in 1855). With his son James he bought up property in Halesworth and they owned a network of about 30 public houses in and around Halesworth. Lived in house on west side of the market place and tenanted the brewery ‘The Halesworth Brewery’, behind this property. Owned the White Hart and Castle pubs. Another son, Benjamin remained in Wangford, where he took over his uncle’s maltings (who was a bachelor also named Benjamin), where he became a successful maltster and farmer (250 acres).


‘Halesworth Navigation’ opened
Norwich Mercury; Halesworth, July 23rd 1761: This day we had the pleasure of receiving into our Bason a keel from Southwold, laden with coals and drawing three Feet of water. We can assure the Publick that the Works for our facilitating the Navigation of our River are constructed and finished with the Greatest Art, and as they afford the most pleasing probability of a particular Benefit to the Town, so do they no less promise to the Country around us a more extensive influence, especially as the Tolls imposed on the several kinds of Merchandise conveyed up and down the Blyth, are low beyond expectation. It would be unpardonable ingratitude in us, not to take the earliest Opportunity of acknowledging our Obligation to those Gentlemen, who actuated by generous Zeal for this undertaking, nor feared to bring them the Torrent of Malice, Predjudice and Interest to bring about to General Benefit. The Barge was attended from the Town Lock up to the Bason by a numerous concourse of People, assembled not more to satisfy their curiosity at the Novelty of the Sight, than to join in the General Joy and Triumph of the Occasion.


Bridge St Brewery built for John Woodcock : this was probably the start of the Bridge St maltings, a complex referred to by Pevsner as being at ‘Creek Side’. (‘The Buildings of England: Suffolk’)


James Turner of Yarmouth (1743-94) m Elizabeth Cotman. In conjunction with ? Gurney founded the ‘Yarmouth and Suffolk Bank’.


Creation of Gurney and Turners ‘Halesworth and Suffolk’ Bank

Date on a keystone of the Ceek Side Maltings- opposite the Congregational Chapel (referred to in Pevsner’s ‘The Buildings of England: Suffolk’)


John Woodcock (wealthy draper family of Harleston) married daughter of John Garneys, Yoxford surgeon and man-midwife. Listed as brewer and maltster in Halesworth Directory; premises in Bridge St. (according to Mea Allen he lived in Magnolia House, Station Road).


John Woodcock and Samuel Badeley of Walpole set up in partnership established the ‘Halesworth Bank’.


Universal British Directory Halesworth; The nearest sea port is Southwold, distance 9 miles, from which place there is a newly cut canal and barges go down three or four times a week with corn etc for the London market. A London coach comes every other day to The Angel and another every other day to the Three Tuns. The London carrier sets out every Wednesday from the Kings Arms. Thomas Adamson carrier sets out for Norwich every Friday and returns on Saturday.


Woodcock and Badeley’s business was bankrupt.

Circa 1800
Messrs Prest a London firm of corn factors built granaries and maltings in Quay St.

Woodcock and Badeley’s Bridge St maltings bought by Samuel Paget, Dawson Turner, and James Turner. One of Dawson’s daughters, Maria, married William Jackson Hooker. Hooker managed Bridge St maltings until 1820.


Messrs Prest went bankrupt

Hammond Ringwood purchased Prest’s property


Bridge St maltings bought by maltster Patrick Stead age 36 of Yarmouth. Fordham says that John Robinson was also involved. Stead moved his maltings HQ to Halesworth circa 1837. What was Stead doing in Yarmouth? Patrick Stead was of Scottish descent, born in Stead’s Place Leith Walk in 1788. Educated at Perth Academy. Trained in merchants office in London and became connected with the brewing business of Truman Hanbury & Co in the grain procurement department.


Pigot’s Directory: Great quantities of hemp are grown in the neighbourhood and the spinning of yarn with the manufacture of it into cloth gives employment to many of the inhabitants. The malting business is carried on here very extensively and a good business is done in corn on the market days.


George and Thomson George, Halesworth farming family, trading in corn, coal, lime and malt, built, or enlarged a maltings, down the Angel Pathway, which had access to the Blyth Navigation at the new Reach. Thomson owned three wherries and supplied Trumans.


Stead purchased Ringwoods maltings etc on his retirement.

Edward Prime owned a brewery and malthouse in Bungay Rd.


Whites Directory; part of entry for Halesworth: ‘This river has been navigable up to the town for barges of from 20 to 30 tons burthen of which there are a dozen belonging to the merchants here employed in carrying out corn, malt etc and bringing in coal and timber etc. Here is a large iron foundry and agricultural implement manufactury and a number of malting houses. Mr P Stead has lately obtained a patent for making malt by a new process and has erected a large kiln in the form of a tower 50 ft high divided into five storeys and heated by steam pipes and a hot air blast. The green malt is first placed on the top floor and is moved a storey lower every day and the heat of each floor increasing as it descends. It is dried off and ready for the market on the fourth or fifth day. There is also a contrivance for regulating the temperature of the ‘steep’ as well as the drying floors.
William Atmer, Bridge St
Thomson George, Bridge St
Edward Prime, Bungay Rd
Reeve and Cracknell, Market Place
J. Alf Riches, Bungay Rd
Samuel Self, Chediston St
Patrick Stead, Quay St.


Stead sold out to London based Truman Hanbury brewery.


Halesworth Directory: Here is a large iron and brass foundry and agricultural implement manufactury established in 1803 and now belonging to Messrs T Easterson and Son who employ a considerable number of hands in the manufacture of ploughs, thrashing machines, turnip cutters, chaff engines, iron fencing and gates etc. Here is also Mr Samuel Brown’s large coach and harness manufacture chiefly for the London market and employing about 60 hands. Here are likewise several large malting houses and an extensive brick, tile and drainpipe manufacture. Great quantities of hemp were formerly grown in the neighbourhood and many of the inhabitants were employed in the manufacture of Suffolk hempen cloth, but the trade was discontinued many years ago. It once gave employment to about a thousand hands in the town and neighbourhood.
William Atmer, Bridge St
Thomson George, Bridge St
Samuel Self, Chediston St
Strathern and Paul (Prince of Wales, Brewery?), Bungay Rd


The railway between Yarmouth and London reached Halesworth


Suffolk Directory 1879; The trade of the town consists chiefly of corn and malting which is carried on very extensively by Mr R. W. Burleigh and Messrs Croft and Flick and Mr Strathern. Many thousand quarters are annually sent to London by rail and the River Blyth by means of small craft to the port of Southwold. Here are also the carriage works of Messrs S. Smith and Co. employing 70 hands and the breweries of Messrs Croft and Flick and Mr Strathern.

Circa 1890
Building of the Station Yard Maltings by Mr James Parry one of Truman’s agents in charge of the Quay Maltings. The buildings were erected by Wallace Ellis of Wenhaston at a time when more than 45 tons of malt were produced in the town each week. (the maltings were taken over by Crisp Maltings Ltd of Great Ryburgh in Norfolk about 1968, and closed in September 1980).

New Cut Maltings built behind the Prince of Wales Brewery by F. Kendall-Chapman.


Kellys Directory; trade of the town consists chiefly of corn and malting which is carried on very extensively by Mr James Parry, Mr Frank Kendall-Chapman and the Colchester Brewing Company Ltd. Many thousand quarters are annualy sent to London by rail.

Kelly’s Directory; The trade of the town consists chiefly of corn and malting which is carried on very exensively by Messrs James Parry and Sons, and Watney, Combe, Reid and Co Ltd. Many thousand quarters are annual sent to London by rail.

4.6.1 Malting at Halesworth
The River Blyth was opened to navigation to Southwold in 1761, and the increase in water-borne trade to and from Halesworth via Southwold may be assessed from the River Tolls for the period 1765-1849. During this interval the total harbour dues paid at Southwold increased about six-fold (Fig. 4.10), which may be taken as an index of the rising prosperity of the port’s hinterland. These tolls reflect direct trade with Halesworth, which increased around two fold. During this same interval the returns from Harbour Dues at Southwold increased by about the same proportion, indicating that both places were participating in a general increase in local prosperity. Halesworth traffic via the Blyth Navigation would have contributed to the Southwold dues because goods had to be trans-shipped to and from sea-going vessels at the Southwold quays. However, when the trade figures are examined in more detail it is found that the river tolls, as a percentage of harbour dues, increased from between 20-25% in the last quarter of the 18th century, to peak at just over 40% in the period 1840-44 (Fig. 4.11). Furthermore, the biggest rise in river traffic occurred between 1820-44, compared with Harbour traffic, which saw its greatest rate of increase between 1805-29. From this analysis it can be concluded that the growth of Halesworth’s economy was taking an independent course from that of Southwold.

Fig. 4.10 Comparison of Southwold harbour dues with tolls paid on R. Blyth (amounts in 4-year intervals).

Southwold’s prosperity during this time can be indexed by the exports of grain and the imports of coal (Fig. 4.12). Taking coal imports, which, as the major energy source for the Blything economy, may be regarded as a general measure of the region’s economic well being, it appears that the depression that coincided with the termination of the linen of trade was lifted around 1840. For the next eight years the Southwold coal trade increased between 30 to 40%. This was also the case for grain exports. The enhanced trade in both commodities only came to an end in 1855, which was the year when the railway between Yarmouth and London eventually reached Halesworth and rapidly commandeered the water-borne traffic.

Fig. 4.11 Tolls paid on R. Blyth as percentage of dues paid at Southwold Harbour (4-year intervals)


Fig. 4.12 Trade in grain and coal through the port of Southwold (1830-1866)

Unfortunately the records do not say how much of the grain exports through Southwold were in the form of malt. Nevertheless, it is possible to separate out the trade figures for Southwold from those of Halesworth, the latter being a measure of water-borne traffic between Halesworth and Southwold (Table 4.6). The important conclusion is that between 1810 and 1840 there was a shift of trade in both corn and coal from Southwold to Halesworth. Overall, there was not an increase in the total trade in these commodities but, presumably, a trend away from using Southwold, probably due to a decline in the use of road transport to and from the quays at Reydon and Southwold in favour of the wherry quays at Halesworth.

Table 4.6 Comparison of trade in corn and coal between Southwold and Halesworth.

Southwold corn exports
Southwold coal imports
Halesworth corn exports
Halesworth coal imports
Halesworth trade in corn (% Southwold)
Halesworth trade in coal (%Southwold)



















4.6.2 The malting infrastructure
The first stage in 18th century malting was the steeping of barley in a cistern of water, to begin germination. Innkeepers malting and brewing for themselves might use quite small utensils, which they managed single-handed. However, in the industrial maltings many quarters of barley would be run into the large cisterns from a barley loft above. When the barley had been immersed, the light grains would be left floating on the water, to be skimmed off for use as animal food—escaping the duty, which was laid, on the volume of grain in the next stage of manufacture. After the requisite time (usually three days, or four days and three nights) the water was drained off and the barley left in the cistern for half a day to raise a little heat in the grain. It was then placed in a square wooden receptacle—the 'couch'—for twenty or thirty hours, at which stage it was customarily measured by the excise officers, being at the point where maximum swelling of the grain was achieved. From the couch, the grain was spread out more thinly upon the 'floor', the layer being less than a foot deep on average, but thickening at the edges where most draught occurred. Here the grain lay while germination proceeded regularly, being turned with wide shovels to prevent the sprouting rootlets from matting together and allowing all parts of the 'floor' to profit equally from exposure to air. The manipulation of the ventilators to keep the floor 'coming on' in a smooth regular progress was one of the maltster's most subtle arts. The whole process took from twelve to fifteen days, and needed to be carefully regulated, with just the right amount of air, heat and light to encourage the best growth, yet prevent mould. The London porter brewers wished the shoot—the acrospire—to proceed nearly along to the end of the grain, just without penetrating beyond it. They considered the maximum sugar content to be obtained if the germination was halted by drying out the malt when it had preceded just this far. Some of the new malt houses were designed for working large quantities of grains at one time in several cisterns, possessing several 'couches', and several growing 'floors'.

The final process of malting was drying the germinated grain upon the kiln. This was the stage of manufacture at which most of the differences were given to the various types of malt. The pale malts kept the colour of the grain because they were dried slowly over a gentle heat. For others, the colour might be graded from pale to amber to brown by varying the degree of heat involved. The tapering flues of the malt kilns gave as characteristic an appearance to the malting towns as did the oasts to a Kentish hop-village. Their general similarity in appearance reflected a similarity of function.
The overwhelming importance of malting to Halesworth’s 19th century economy is indicated by the number of families involved in the trade (Table 4.7).

Table 4.7 Halesworth persons in business as maltsters and brewers

Atmer, William, Bridge St
Badeley, Samuel
Cotman. Elizabeth
Crisp, John
Garneys, John
George, George
George, Thomson
George, Thomson, Bridge St
Hooker, William Jackson
Kendall-Chapman, Frank
Knight, Thomas
Paget, Samuel
Parry, James
Prime, Edward, Bungay Rd
Reeve and Cracknell, Market Place
Reeve, Robert
Riches, J, Bungay Rd
Ringwood, Hammond
Selfe, Samuel, Chediston St
Smith, Richard
Stead, Patrick
Stead, Patrick, Quay St.
Strathern, Fairley B.
Turner, Dawson
Turner, James
Woodcock, John

4.6.3 Patrick Stead
Patrick Stead began his Halesworth enterprise in 1821 at the age of 36 with his manager John Robinson, another Scotsman. His plan was to develop the brewery and maltings, which he had purchased at the Hooker sale in the same year. Pigot’s 1830 Halesworth Directory lists John Joseph Robinson as a maltster, so it appears that Stead had put Robinson in charge of the Halesworth operation, and had shifted the enterprise from brewing to malting. There are no further references to John Robinson in the Halesworth scene.

Before purchasing the Halesworth property Stead already had a commercial base in Yarmouth South Town where he was a major East Anglian maltster and dealer in barley. He seems to have arrived in Yarmouth from London to build upon his experience and networking gathered as the purchasing agent for the massive Truman Brewery. The Bridge St enterprise provided Stead with an opportunity to apply his comprehensive knowledge of the East Anglian malt trade, and wealth he had already accumulated, to develop a malting business integrated with the Blyth Navigation as his export facility. He immediately set about making improvements and enlarging the malting floors at Bridge Street to incorporate his own ideas for improving its productivity.

In 1837 he began building a new malting complex to the east of the Bridge St Brewery and the following year he purchased the Quay Maltings from Hammond Ringwood, a few yards to the east along the Holton Road. He then developed the enlarged site, incorporating his own patented ideas, to create the largest malting establishment in the town, of which the centrepiece was a large multi-story tower designed for pneumatic malting. The two most common methods of malting are the traditional floor malting method, where grain is literally spread across the floor to germinate. Talk about a new method of pneumatic malting was in the air, where the environment is strictly controlled inside tanks or drums. As developed and patented by Patrick Stead, moist air of a definite temperature is drawn through the germinating grains; therefore ensuring greater temperature and moisture uniformity, and expulsion of carbon dioxide formed during germination. The grain is turned from time to time and sprinkled with water to maintain moisture requirements. The time was ripe to capitalise on new ideas because the lethargy in the malting trade, and in all matters relating to malting processes, induced by two centuries of restrictive legislation, was being gradually shaken off by the malting industry under new laws. For many years, nearly all improvements in malting processes originated abroad, as numberless Acts of Parliament fettered every process and the use of every implement requisite in an English malt-house. The removal of these legislative restrictions gave an opportunity for improved methods, which promised to open up a considerable field for engineering work, and to develop a very backward art by the application of scientific principles. Stead was one of the first to apply a material change that malting had never before experienced. The failure of his Halesworth system did not deter his energies and by 1839 half of the Harbour revenues of Southwold were paid by Stead’s exports of malt and grain and imports of coal and lime. As later developed by the French maltsters of Troyes, towards the end of the century the pneumatic process system was eventually widely adopted by British malsters. A great feature that boosted productivity is the continuous manufacture of malt throughout the year instead of for a seasonal period of five to eight months.
Stead had transferred his home and commercial headquarters from Yarmouth to Halesworth in 1838. This seems to have involved modifying the Hookers former residence because the Halesworth Vestry Minutes for January 1840 state:

  • “ The assessment for the new dwelling house of Mr P Stead fixed for the present (it not being completed) at the sum of £20”.

This may be taken to mean that he set to work to rebuild Brewery House. However, although there is little doubt that Patrick Stead lived in Brewery House (alias the present day Hooker House), apart from the vestry minute, there is no definitive evidence as to what he actually did to change the property described in Hooker’s sale. As it stands today, Hooker House, apart from the rebuild of the eastern portion associated with war damage and the construction of the bypass, can be equated with the 1821 sale description. It may be that the eastern end was the portion that Stead modified. In any event, he lived there for a total of 35 years, from whence he retired to Scotland. The layout of the area in 1883 is presented in Fig 4.13.

Fig 4.13 Map of ‘Woodcock’ maltings based on the 1883 O.S Edn.

S.H.= Patrick Stead's house; CSCreek Side (accountants house) The Creek; C.C.Creek Side (accountants house) The Creek; C.C.Congregational Chapel

Table 4.8 1841 Halesworth census District 12 Patrick Stead’s Neighbourhood
(Occupations in pairs of census form)

New Court 1
New Court 2
Agricultural labourer
Independent means
Agricultural labourer
Agricultural labourer
Braziers apprentice
Agricultural labourer

Butcher (Seaman)


Agricultural labourer

New Court 3
Bridge St 1
Agricultural labourer
Farm labourer
Articled clerk
Agricultural labourer
Coach painter
Blacksmith apprentice
Miller’s journeyman

Clergyman (Lombe Athill)


House servant

House servant


Basket maker

Bridge St 2
Bridge St 3
Linen draper
Butcher (Kemp)
Straw hat maker
Butcher journeyman
Articled clerk
Grocer’s apprentice
Shop maid
Shop maid
Butcher journeyman
Printer/binder (Day)
Butcher journeyman

Fire Office Agent
Bridge St 4
Bridge St 5
Carpenter journeyman
Baker’s apprentice
Agricultural labourer
Corn merchant (Patrick Stead; 50 years old)
House servant
House servant
Dressmaker’s apprentice
House servant
Dressmaker’s apprentice
Dressmaker;s apprentice
Dressmaker’s apprentice
Independent (Elizabeth Badeley)

Independent (Charlotte Badeley)

Independent (Maria Badeley)

Independent (Maria Tuthills)

House servant

House servant

House servant


Bridge St 6
Bridge St 7
House servant
Draper’s assistant
Carpenter’s apprentice
Tailor’s apprentice
Grocer’s apprentice
Tailor’s apprentice
Grocer’s apprentice
Carpenter journeyman
Agricultural labourer




Bridge St 8
Bridge St 9
Agricultural labourer
Carpenter journeyman
Horse keeper
Agricultural labourer
Drapers assistant?

Scarles Yard


Sawyer journeyman

Quay St

Wine merchant



From the 1841 census it is possible to define the neighbourhood around Stead’s residence. In particular the social mix of Bridge St and Quay Street may be defined in terms of the occupations of his neighbours (Table 4.8). In this survey it can be seen that in this microcosm of Halesworth he was surrounded by cross section of the town’s inhabitants from paupers to clergymen with a few people of independent means. We can only assume that living amongst many townsfolk less fortunate than himself was a major influence on his decision to bequeath the residue of his estate to establish a hospital for the benefit of the community (see below).

It is worth noting that an ‘agent’ and an ‘accountant’ are listed as living next to Stead’s home. The house of the former was probably an addition made by Stead between Brewery House and the maltings. Until recent times this is where the office of the maltings was situated. The accountant probably lived in Creekside, which was the ‘counting house’ in Hooker’s day. This arrangement for housing the key managerial staff was continued after Patrick Stead sold up, as will be seen below.

4.7 Trading on a restless coast

When Patrick Stead arrived on the Halesworth trading scene, the key to profit was exporting and importing through the port of Southwold. This meant accommodating business plans to the dynamic planetary forces of southerly moving tides, which are responsible for the destruction of vulnerable communities all along the East Anglian coast. These tides also carry a southerly drift of materials to create sandbanks and low-lying promontories (nesses) at other places. David Higgins expressed the remarkable coming together of physical and human geography on the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk as follows.

  • “The coastline of East Anglia has always been restless with the sea acting like some frenetic sculptor, constantly reshaping its previous creations in the seemingly endless pursuit of perfection”.

The southern end of this cyclical pattern in Suffolk has been dramatic erosion at Dunwich and Aldeburgh with a concomitant extension of the great shingle bank of Orford Ness. A positive aspect for coastal shipping is that the marine currents have collected eroded materials into a series of substantial offshore banks, which, while being a scourge to mariners in bad weather, enclose the only relatively safe anchorages between the Tyne and the Thames, the famous Yarmouth and Lowestoft Roads. However, for East Anglian ports in general, the process is entirely negative because the shifting banks, by creating shallow sand bars across the mouths of relatively small rivers, restrict access to harbours in unpredictable ways, the channels often changing month to month according to the force of the outward flow of fresh water from the river catchments. Smaller inlets that had been important from very early times have been blocked. One such, Frostenden ’harbour’ at Covehithe, is now a fresh water lagoon (Covehithe Broad).

During the Middle Ages the port of Dunwich was the major commercial hub of Blything, with seemingly endless disputes as far inland as Blythburgh, on trade dues and rights of wreck. Dunwich had the upper hand in these confrontations because it was situated strategically at the confluence of both the Blyth and Minsmere Rivers. All this changed when coastal erosion began to destroy Dunwich’s cliff-top site, and silt up its harbour. To compensate for this, new channels were cut through the shingle bank to the north between Dunwich and Southwold. The dominance of Dunwich may be said to have ended when, in 1590, the Blyth was finally diverted by a ‘New Cut’ through the shingle bank at the point where the Blyth turned south at Walberswick. Up to this time it seems that Walberwick was more important than its northern neighbour Southwold. For example, between 1509-47 Walberwick had 17 trading vessels compared with 10 for Dunwich and 7 for Southwold. Now, the dice of maritime forces had fallen in Southwold’s favour because the shingle bank suitable for making the New Cut actually belonged to Southwold, and from 1590 Southwold became the major coastal settlement commanding both sides of the new mouth of the Blyth. Southwold’s ownership of the river, as it were, was subsequently commemorated in the annual community ceremony of ‘beating the bounds’, which in 1836 was recorded in the following Corporation minutes.

  • ‘The procession left the Council Chamber about noon; passed over East Green, went down the score to the Cliff on which the two-gun battery formerly stood; over the beach to the edge of the sea, and thus along to the piers…and….the jetty within the haven, and there entered the barges and crossed over the South Pier, and coming to the west end of it, then walked at the back of the beach for about twenty yards to the south-west of the said pier, near to a house built by Colonel Barne of Dunwich, on a place called ‘Ferry Knowle’ ; and then to the bank of the river, near the cut recently made by the Commissioners of the harbor, which runs towards the Dunwich creek, and there again taking to the barges proceeded up the river Blyth….and landed at the north-west of Black-Shore quay, where a very numerous party of men, women and children were regaled with a barrel of strong ale and plum buns’.

An important economic consequence of the New Cut for Southwold was that the town gained control of dues for unloading and trans-shipping all commodities passing to and from Blything. Eventually the Borough became the Harbour Authority (the first Harbour Act was passed in 1745).

Unfortunately, the early records of Southwold’s trade have been lost. Transcripts of the Walberswick Church Account have survived, which show that this community also prospered after the formation of the New Cut. The village was involved in shipbuilding (an 18 gun ship was launched in 1654) and, along with Southwold, was an important player in the Icelandic cod and ling fishery, and also contributed a good share of vessels to the annual East Anglian North Sea herring fleet. No doubt both communities were involved with exporting locally produced goods, such as wool, cheese and butter to London, but records are not available. However, from the time of the Southwold New Cut, there began a battle with tide and river to maintain Southwold’s harbour free from the natural forces of silting and blockage by offshore banks. In this respect, there have been many attempts over the years to design efficient harbour works to ensure the continuous commercial use of Southwold’s quays.

Another local ‘improvement project’, which involved landowners reclaiming marshes, sometimes by seizure of land, to create grazing pasture by embanking the tidal saltings, exacerbated the blockage of Southwold Harbour by beach drift. Ironically, an early developer was Southwold Corporation, who in 1547 sold the church plate to wall the Corporation Marsh. They continued to be involved in reclamation of saltings over the next three centuries. In 1847 the Church Accounts show they borrowed money for this purpose, and in 1850 the corporation enclosed Haven Beach Marshes. By 1845 between four and five square miles of salt marsh had been reclaimed. The outcome of this kind of widespread activity was the separation of the Blyth from its flood plain. Enclosure of the marshes essentially prevented the deposition of river-borne silt, which was formerly spread over a vast area of saltings. Enclosure also reduced the scour through Southwold Harbour, which had been powered by the wide estuary of the Blyth emptying between the harbour piers at each turn of the tide. After reclamation of the wetlands, the river’s total load of suspended material was dropped where river and sea met at the harbour entrance.

It was into this uncertain trade outlet that water-borne traffic using the newly created Blyth navigation channel from Halesworth to Southwold had to be inserted. In fact, the inefficiency of Southwold’s harbour works was quickly revealed as a serious problem limiting the growth of Halesworth’s prosperity. This became a major local issue when Patrick Stead’s malt exports via the Blyth Navigation came up against the forces, natural and human, that were responsible for restricting the use of the harbour.

4.7.1 'Murder of Southwold
In 1836, five years after his arrival in Halesworth, Patrick Stead became a Blyth River Commissioner, with a strong motivation to obtain direct access of his own premises to the New Reach of the Blyth Navigation, and also to ensure his exports of malt to London moved smoothly through Southwold Harbour. In the first four years after his arrival the dues collected by the River Commissioners indicate that there was a doubling of Halesworth’s water-borne trade. How much of this was due to the expansion of Stead’s trade is not known, but it became increasingly clear that the inefficient cleansing of Southwold Harbour was reducing his potential profits. Things came to a head in 1839, when the grain carrier ‘Lord Exmouth’, loaded with Stead’s barley bound for Cardiff, was trapped by the silt bar from January until April. As a result of this situation, which in this case spoiled the cargo, Stead gave up exporting grain in 1840. Armed with a professional survey stating that the harbour was short of several hundred thousand gallons of water passing back and forth between the piers twice a day, Stead pressed urgently for modifications to cleanse the harbour.

The issues for all sides, landowners, harbour commissioners and merchants were aired at a public enquiry in Southwold’s Town Hall in August 1839. Stead put the case for the merchants in relation to them being liable to additional expenses for damage, inconvenience, and detention of vessels, which shipowners constantly experienced. There were anecdotes of coaches being driven over the Walberswick ferry and cargo ships having to be hauled over the bar with huge capstans. There were comparisons of dues, in which the cost of using Southwold came out higher than other East Anglian ports, particularly Aldeburgh, where no fees were paid. Southwold had the lowest tonnage for exports of corn and malt, and the import of coal. In fact, exports were half of those through Aldeburgh and one tenth of those through Yarmouth. Stead estimated that exports through Southwold were two thirds of their potential with an average loss of £3. 5s per ton on cargoes. He pointed out that farmers delivered to ports specified by merchants who arranged the vessels, and their captains added dues to freight which the merchants had to pay. These arrangements contributed to Southwold’s neglect. He was to pursue this issue of the bar unsuccessfully with the Harbour Commissioners over most of his time in Halesworth.

Roy Clark, author of Black Sailed Traders, tells this story succinctly by putting the following words into Stead’s mouth as he imagined him passing over the bridge at Blythburgh, and viewing the reclaimed saltings to the east:
  • “Look you there, man, that’s what caused us all our misery, what broke the trade of Halesworth, and ruined Southwold. Those banks you see yonder were all put up by greedy, soul-less men who cared not a jot for what happened to the rest of us. Look well at them and remember; they stand as a monument to all those who turned Southwold into the port that was murdered”.
Clark also put the hydrodynamics of the problem in a nutshell;
  • “All right thinking persons know how important these saltings were. The saltings were to the harbour what a cistern is to a lavatory pan; they should not be encroached upon”.

In April 1849 Truman Partners, the London Brewery with which Patrick Stead did most of his dealings in malt, as part of their policy to command all major inputs to their business, made him an offer of £18,000 for his property in Halesworth and his shares in the Blyth Navigation. This was accepted and in 1851 one of their agents R.W. Burleigh took over as resident controller of the Halesworth maltings. Stead retired to Scotland where he died at the age of 81 in 1869. Eventually, after the death of his wife in 1875, the Trustees of the parish of Halesworth received the sum of £26,000, being the residue of her husband’s bequest to build and endow a hospital for the benefit of local residents. Under the ownership of Trumans, the Stead maltings continued as a source of employment in the town well into the 20th century, but with production firmly integrated with the railway system. The Patrick Stead Hospital is still serving the local population today.

However, Stead remains an enigma. The financial success of his commercial deeds has arguably had a more profound influence on Halesworth than any other of the town’s long stream of entrepreneurs, yet he is a shadowy figure on the margins of the town’s history. Compared with the Hooker family, there is no archive of his life to illuminate his character and add substance to the bare facts outlined above.
The occupation of Patrick Stead’s house by Robert Burleigh can be followed decade by decade through the census returns. He was described as living in Quay Street in White's 1855 but do not know exactly where. His entry described him as an ale and porter merchant, malster and corn and coal merchant. The census information is as follows.

  • Burleigh was living as maltster and corn merchant at 15 Quay Street in 1861 age 46 with wife Hannah and large family. A governess and 5 servants.
  • Next-door lived Josiah Walker clerk and corn merchant. The census started from the 'Wherry' end of Quay Street so he came before Burleigh. The property was probably Creekside.
  • He was still living at 15 Quay Street in 1871 with wife Hannah and two children, governess and 4 servants. He was described as maltster, corn and coal merchant employing 39 persons.
  • Next-door was, Alfred Stagoll age 33 with wife and 3 children. He was described as clerk to maltster, corn merchant. This reinforces the idea that since Patrick Stead’s time Creekside was traditionally occupied by the clerk to the maltings.
  • In 1881 Robert Burleigh was again to be found at 15 Quay Street; merchant with 36 hands, born at Sible Hedingham, Essex. Alfred Stagoll was still his clerk, born in Leiston.
  • In the next two censuses 15 Quay Street was occupied by a maltster, James Parry, born Wangford. In 1891 he had 3 children 4 servants.

4.7.2 Malting: an historical milestone
As an early candidate for industrialisation, the story of brewing is an important commentary on the questions: when did the eighteenth-century world die; when does modern history begin? Certainly there are some aspects of the twentieth-century industrial scene of mass production and mass consumption that have their parallel in the story of the brewing industry during the eighteenth century. In a sense, the period 1700-1830 saw the emergence of a modern structure of production, with its attendant developments in procurement of malted barley grain and the merchanting and distribution of beer. In this chain of mass production, the brewer became the farmer’s most important customer. These developments had begun before the eighteenth century, but national statistics for beer and malt only become available for the first time in the first half of the 18th century, so the process can only be charted from then. That century saw the innovations of porter brewing, exact measurement of ingredients, steam-power, and mechanical processing, all inventions upon which a few enterprising ‘ale house brewers' became industrialists of a different order to any the brewing industry (or the economy as a whole) had seen in previous centuries. Equally, 1830 is a useful date at which to close this phase of economic development. In that year, the ending of the heavy beer duty and the restrictive licensing of public houses set for a time new commercial conditions in which the industry was operating. A national railway network was soon to break down traditional geographical barriers to economic development, particularly the marketing limits previously set by the high cost of transporting raw materials overland by horse-drawn wagons. London names, such as Truman, soon became eclipsed by the meteoric rise of firms, which, for example rapidly urbanised the Midland village of Burton on Trent. In the second half of the 19th century the great innovation in the eighteenth century, black beer porter, was also eclipsed by lighter ales. The latter were the result of new technological innovations, which were first made at the end of the eighteenth century.

On the other hand, these widespread developments went along with innovations in malting, which quickly became one of the most closely controlled of any industry. The timing, sequence, and even the details of each process of the manufacture of malt were prescribed and inspected by revenue officers. It is not coincidental that this regulation inspired a trade association to look after the maltsters, the ‘Association of Maltsters in the United Kingdom’, which was organised with equal care. A primary aim of the association was to confer with government intent on regulating the trade in alcoholic drinks.

The eighteenth-century world was passing by 1830, although it was still a generation before the biochemistry of fermentation was fully revealed, and brewers could at last gain precise control over the secrets of their ancient art. The immediate reactions to free trade in beer were to induce a further profound change in the business environment of brewing. With the foundation of the temperance movement, which ironically established an outpost at ‘Red House’ in the heart of the brewing community, new social forces were released, and new political groupings with a modern air began. They all look back to 1830, and exemplify Halesworth as a starting-point of the modern manufacturing economy.

4.8 Other manufacturing businesses

There is an attraction for the social historian to research only the success stories of business, but these are exceptions that prove the rule that most potential entrepreneurs fail to make the grade. Halesworth has many examples of false starts and stories of initial success that faltered at the next generation, particularly in manufacturing (Table 4.9). This was particularly the case with new operations based on technological innovations in production systems. Printing is a good example of Halesworth’s failure to capture an expanding market, which was a national success story only a few miles to the north at Bungay. The business was printing, which in terms of new technology, was rapidly becoming automated at the start of the 19th century. Technology may be defined as a spectrum of ideas at one end and techniques and things at the other, with design in the middle as an operation that turns ideas into plans to make things. If we add the profit spur of business to make more things faster, then the history of the printing press, which issues a standardized mass-produced merchandise, is as good as any other industry to illustrate the entrepreneurial progress of industrialism.

Ideas to improve printing were turned into production systems at a fair rate during the first half of the 19th century. A breakthrough was made in 1804, when the third Earl of Stanhope replaced the wooden screw press, virtually unchanged since Gutenberg's time, with an iron framed lever press. Stanhope also introduced stereotyping, which made the saving of pages of type for reprinting a commercial proposition.

Table 4.9 Some Halesworth manufacturers; 1851 and 1881 census returns for Halesworth

1851 enterprise
1851 business
1881 enterprise
1881 business
Robert Smith.178 Pound St.; 12 men and 9 boys
Coach building
Sarah Smith: coachmaker . 30 men 10 boys
Iron founding
Thomas Easterson: 32, Thorofare; 11 men and boys
Boot and shoemaking
Walter Ives: leather merchant 25 men 16 boys 8 woman 3 girls
Ptrick Stead. 15 Bridge St; 31 men
Leather merchant
John Haward: leather seller 2 men 4 boys 4 girls
Bookseller & printer
Thomas Tippell: 16 Thoroughfare 3 men
Robert Burleigh: merchant 38 hands
Bookseller & printer
John Day: 44 Bridge St
George C. Croft: brewer merchant 24 men
George Rackham: 41 Bridge St

Frederick Woodyard: builder 9 men 1 boy

Pages of type for future reprints were preserved using plaster or metal matrices from which a stereotype could be cast, instead of having to reset the text. Frederich Koenig's steam printing machine with rollers was adopted by the London Times in 1820, and raised the output of a printing press from 300 to 1100 copies an hour. A few years later in 1822, the letter-founding machine, invented by Dr William Church and a forerunner of the linotype machine, raised the number of letters that could be cast daily from 3,000 / 7,000 to 12,000 / 20,000. By 1827 the ‘New Press ‘ of Applegath and Cowper enabled The Times to produce 5000 copies an hour from a single machine. Prior to this, rows of Stanhope presses had been used. In 1840 the American Richard March Hoe developed a revolving perfecting press, which could turn out 20 000 impressions an hour. The manufacture of paper from wood pulp was accomplished in the same year and within a decade production had spread everywhere. The outward appearance and 'feel' of paper was altered and it became much cheaper to produce, which was particularly advantageous to newspaper production. Hoe developed the first version of a rotary press in 1846. He found a way to fit the type around the cylinder, which was inked by automated rollers, while four smaller rollers brought the sheets of paper in contact with it. This raised the number of impressions that could be taken from 22,000 to 24,000 an hour. By the middle of the century Claude Genoux and Nicholas Serriere improved the system for making page moulds on papier mache ‘flongs’, as they came to be called. A flong prepared from flat type could be curved to permit moulding of the cylindrical type needed for a rotary press. At about the same time, James Gordon Bennett in his New York Herald developed a method using a metal plate impression of the type rather than the type itself. By the 1860s William Bullock perfected a method of feeding paper into a machine continuously instead of by sheets. He also incorporated Bennett's metal plate system and the use of stereotypes, shaped to fit the rollers, instead of hand set type.

There were printers in Halesworth in the early 1800's, and possibly before, who could potentially take up these innovations. There is also evidence in Halesworth highlighting the power of mass printing. A great controversy raged in the town in the autumn of 1808 on the morals, of the contemporary stage, which was fought out with pamphlets printed by the two rival printers. W. Harper for those against the stage, and Thomas Tippell taking the other side. The Nonconformist minister in the town, the Rev. John Dennant, preached against the stage morals, and he was answered in a pamphlet written by a physician of the town. Others joined in the fray, and for a few weeks the two printers were kept busy in publishing the pamphlets in prose and verse that were issued by the two sides. The pamphlets, which have been called the Halesworth Theatre Tracts, are, it is claimed, unique in their completeness.

It is highly probable that the printers in the town were not of a sufficiently literary turn of mind to start a newspaper, and at that time there was a stamp duty on publications of that description. The Suffolk Chronicle, a weekly paper, was started about 1811, but without doubt small printers had little enthusiasm for starting a paper while the duty was payable.

In the middle of this remarkable period of international innovation there were 3 printers living in Halesworth. According to the 1851 census, Thomas Tippell, at 16 Thoroughfare, had the largest establishment. As a printer and bookseller he employed three men. He was also a coal merchant employing another three men. His son James was an assistant printer. George Rackham is listed as a chemist and printer at 41 Bridge St. His wife was a milliner. Rackham printed ‘The Halesworth Times and East Suffolk Advertiser’, with a circulation which included all towns from Lowestoft to Saxmundham, and Southwold to Framlingham. This was the first ‘Penny Newspaper’ in Suffolk, and circulated throughout the County and also in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. Through the century, it has recorded the ebb and flow of life in the district, reflecting its character in times of hardship and prosperity, and peace and war. The first edition appeared on July 17th 1855, and during the first six months of publication it was about half the size of the 1950s editions, the two outside pages being printed locally, containing advertisements and items of local and district news (printed in very small type), and the two inside pages, printed in London, contained an epitome of the national and international news. The first issue of 1856 saw the paper enlarged to twice the size, and this continued until 1868, when the second enlargement took place.

John Day was also a printer and bookseller, at 44 Bridge St. He was living there with his father in law, the butcher James Freeman. There are three other references to print workers in the 1851 census; Jeremiah Goodwin, a printer lodging in Mill Hill St, Charles More an apprentice printer, and Charles Godfrey, a printer’s errand boy.

Apart from Rackham’s newspaper, we have no information as to what else was being produced by the town’s printers in the 1850s, but it is likely that they all offered a printing service of paper bags, bill heads and circulars to local traders. With respect to technology, most of them were probably using pre-Stanhope presses. It is clear that there was no local demand that could occupy a printer full time. Not only did the printers have other occupations, but they also functioned as stationers with sidelines in library furnishings for the wealthier inhabitants of the town and its surroundings. Regarding John Day, his business also involved selling accessories such as writing desks and work boxes (Fig. 4.14). George Rackham was advertising ‘Pawsey’s, Fulcher’s, Renshaw’s and Marchall’s ladies pocket books and diaries, gentlemen’s pocket and desk memorandas, pocket books, almanacs etc of every description’.

Fig. 4.14 Supplement to The Halesworth Times January 1856

By the time of the 1881 census the earlier printing establishment had been replaced by two small-scale businesses, William Gale, a Londoner from Hackney, and Peter Canova, born the son of a Halesworth jeweller, who employed 1 man and 2 boys. Gale appears to have taken over Thomas Tippell’s establishment in The Thoroughfare. Later he went on to become the publisher of the Halesworth Times.

Meanwhile, printing technology went on improving. On the final page of the collection of summaries of major events of the year for the quarter century from the Great Exhibition (1851 to 1875), published by The Times, there appears the follow­ing advertisement of the new Walter Printing Press:

  • "This volume of 598 pages has been set in type by four lads, working at two composing machines, in ten days of eight hours, at the rate of 2,150 lines per day. It has been printed from stereotype plates, in perfected sheets, each con­taining 128 pages, at the rate of 12,000 per hour on the Walter Press."

What can have been the thought of an elderly Halesworth com­positor who read these words; or of his trade union; or of firms with obsolescent presses? Halesworth seems to have been left behind in this technology race, and it is interesting to compare the town with Bungay regarding factors in the development of large-scale printing in up-and-coming towns of these times. Printing in Bungay appears to have been given an early start by an individual, Charles Brightly, who set up business in 1795. For Suffolk as a whole this was a period of industrial pioneering. Nearly all the large manufacturing concerns that have lasted to the present day were established within ten years of that date. Brightly was one of the pioneers of the stereotyping process, and in 1809 he published a small book explaining his methods. John R. Childs joined him in his business in 1805, and the firm became one of the largest printers and publishers of periodical literature in the kingdom. Messrs. Childs & Son were among the first to introduce the practice of bringing out large works in sixpenny parts, one of the books so published being Barclay's Dictionary. A picturesque tradition survives at Bungay of how Mr. Childs traversed the country in a chaise to solicit orders for his publications, armed for self-defence with a pair of pistols. By the turn of the century the business was sufficiently large and well known to attract Lawrence Johnson from Hull as an apprentice. After serving an apprenticeship of seven years he emerged as a master type founder and the printing office was progressive enough for him to gain experience necessary to branch out on his own. He induced his parents to go with him to the United States, where they arrived in 1819, and purchased a farm in Cayuga County, New York. Afterwards he went to New York City, where he entered a printing office as a compositor. In 1820 his attention was directed to stereotyping, and after obtaining some knowledge of it in the employ of Messrs. B. and J. Collins in New York, he removed to Philadelphia, where he established a successful stereotype foundry. In 1833 he purchased the Philadelphia type foundry, which, under his management, became one of the largest in the country. One of his last acts, in conjunction with other type founders of Philadelphia, was to procure from Congress a modification of the copyright law to afford protection to engravers, letter cutters, and designers.

The Childs business in Bungay was not small and had from its earliest days concentrated on new techniques, becoming the earliest firm to install a composing machine. The business was well known to London printers. In addition to their printing works Messrs. Childs & Son employed at one time as many as 60 or 70 engravers on metal, who did the work in their own homes at Bungay. In 1855, when the firm had come to be mainly occupied in printing for London and other publisher across the country, their stock of stereotype plates was said to weigh above 300 tons. The company was sufficiently well known for it to have been selected to print the first commercial edition of Alice in Wonderland. Macmillan & Co. published Lewis Carrol’s book on commission in July 1865, in an edition of 2000 printed by the Oxford University Press, the copies to be bound in red cloth gilt. Only 50 copies had been bound when Carroll heard from his illustrator Tenniel that he was dissatisfied with the way the pictures came out. The book was withdrawn, and recipients of presentation copies asked to return them. The rejected copies were presented to children’s hospitals and institutions. In November 1865, Childs published the second edition of 4000 copies. In 1876, Mr. C. Childs, the son of Mr. J. R. Childs, died, and in the following year the business was taken over by the London firm of Messrs. Clay & Taylor and became a limited company in 1890. Currently, Clays is one of the country's biggest British printing factories, employing over 500 people at the Bungay Works.

Childs’ early start is probably only one factor in Bungay’s success. The factors militating against Halesworth’s printers are not known. It is interesting that the 1851 census lists a master bookmaker (i.e. a bookbinder), in the Market Place employing four men and a boy. So the nucleus of skills to build a printing publishing centre was present. Nevertheless it was left to Arthur Stebbings, a Lowestoft printer, to exploit the local demand for an annual information pack about the town. He published the first edition in 1887 as the Directory to Halesworth & Southwold Almanac.Stebbings, of 56 and 57 High St and Dagmar House beside the Railway Station, was Lowestoft’s premier printer and stationer, with a machine works. He published the Lowestoft Journal, which he claimed had a circulation of thousands more than any other paper. His Halesworth Almanac was later taken over by Gales, which became the only Halesworth printing business to survive into the 20th century. The almanac, known as Gale’s Almanack, which, like Rackham’s Halesworth Times, continued to be published annually until 1953, and is a mine of community information for local historians. Of course, history has shown that most success stories do, in the fullness of time, come to nothing, which makes businesses like Clays even more remarkable in their tenacity to place.

4.8.1 A truly local newspaper
The centenary of the birth of the Halesworth Times was celebrated in its issue of July 20th 1955. Under the headline ‘A Century Reached’ the article records how it all started. George Rackham, the first editor came to Halesworth from London where in 1836 he was a sub-editor of Kidd's London Journal, which afterwards became the "Illustrated London News." He evidently had some knowledge of the practical side of the printing craft, and there is reason to believe that he procured Harpers printing business in Quay Street, which was then in the hands of Samuel Roper, who died in 1842. Roper was only 32, and his wife carried on the business for a time. Where the printing office was actually situated is a matter for conjecture; it is believed it was at the rear of the premises occupied by a Mr. Alan Richardson. At the time under review, there was a milliner's shop in Chapel Terrace, Quay Street, run by a lady named Miss Caroline Cook. What makes it possible that the printing works were there is the fact that George Rackham married Miss Cook. Both were members of the Congregational Church in Quay Street, Rackham having been made a deacon in 1850. He later became secretary of the Church. From the records available it is clear that the paper was printed at the Quay Street premises until 1861.

At its launching in 1855, the following is an extract from the leading article:
  • "We beg to state that the Halesworth Times will be by no means the organ of a party; it will be catholic in its views and impartial in its discussions; measures, not men, principles, not persons, will be the basis upon which this journal will be conducted. 'Let truth and falsehood grapple,' said Milton, 'who ever knew the truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.' "

In January 1861, the publisher's imprint was altered from "George Rackham, at his office in Quay Street," to "Charles More, at his office, Mill Hill Street, Halesworth." Apparently Rackham found his editorial and other commitments too much to carry on the printing as well. He was also engaged in the sale of proprietary medicines, both for cattle and people. It is difficult to determine the site of the "Mill Hill Street" printing office, but it was only a brief lodging place, for on March 15th, 1861, the following notice appeared:

  • ' 'It will be seen on reference to our imprint that the "Halesworth Times" has this week changed hands, and will in future be printed at the old and well established printing establishment of Mr. James Tippell, of Thoroughfare, Halesworth. It is now nearly six years since we first launched our little bark upon the dangerous and troubled waters of speculation. It has not been plain sailing, we can assure our readers; we have had to make our way against head winds and tides that have strained our canvas to the utmost, with shoals and quicksands and hidden rocks, and too often breakers ahead—but with truth for our compass, impartiality for our helmsman, and a steady reliance upon providence, notwithstanding the adverse gales we have had to encounter during the last twelve months, we can now look back with no small degree of pride and satisfaction at the dangers we have passed, and with the cheerful anticipation of a future successful and prosperous. The principles with which we started we shall firmly and resolutely adhere to; the organ of no sect or party, actuated by broad, catholic and comprehensive views, we shall endeavour to make the Halesworth Times an epitome of all that transpires in the moral, political and intellectual world."

James Tippell’s role as publisher was short, for on May 19th, 1868, the following appeared in the paper’s advertisement columns.
"First class Penny Paper. IMPORTANT NOTICE.
  • Permanent enlargement of the Halesworth Times in the present month. This paper, which is the oldest penny paper in the county, will also be the largest, and will contain 28 columns of closely printed matter of all the current news of the week, original leading articles, etc., etc. The Proprietor (then Mr. W. P. Gale) intends sparing no expense to make it a first class family paper, and a machine adapted for steam power, and specially devised for the Halesworth Times, is now being built by Messrs. Bremner, the celebrated printers' engineers."

The actual date of enlargement was on May 26th, 1868, and the serial number of the paper was 664. On the assumption that 52 copies had been published yearly, this number should have been 669, which shows that only five weeks had been missed during the first 13 years.

Without doubt, before the purchase of the printing machine referred to, the paper was printed on a hand press, and in this event about two minutes would be taken up in rolling with ink and getting a copy, that is for both front and back pages which would be printed separately. Again, the smallness of the type used must have made composition extremely difficult for the eyes, especially when lighting by oil or gas. Every solitary letter had to be picked out of the case by hand, and after printing had to be put back again into its proper place

Although the paper had been published by different proprietors and had changed hands on three occasions, George Rackham was still the editor. There is a record that after the retirement of George Rackham as editor, O. G. Rackham, probably a son, acted in that capacity. He died, however, in 1899 at the comparatively early age of 51, and was buried at Stoke Newington.

Although Rackham was editor of the paper until 1880, the publisher and proprietor was William Pickin Gale, and he had been so since the year 1866. It appears that he came to Halesworth about the year 1862 from Mildenhall, when he was 29 years of age. Presumably he came into the printing and stationery business carried on by James Tippell, a son of the former owner of the business, Thomas Tippell. In 1868 William Gale acquired the whole business, and in the running of the paper, he received help from various local people. He remained proprietor until his death in 1912, a period of 46 years, during which time there had been no change in the price. When he assumed ownership of the paper, he invested in machinery, which was “adapted for steam power”. But it was not used, and the paper was cranked out by hand week after week and year after year. This was a formidable task, for a large amount of work was entailed. To continue this was no mean achievement. Had Halesworth been more progressive, with industries which could have adapted themselves to the changes in the industrial world that were taking place, it is possible that power would have been used on the paper. True there were industries in the town, but they were dying industries for the reason that the changing ideas were not fully comprehended, or the proprietors had not sufficient capital to keep up with the rapid pace of technical innovation.

When William Gale died in 1912 the paper was being printed each week on a large flatbed machine turned by hand. He was succeeded by his son, W. C. Gale, who bought an electric motor for running the printing press, but this also was never used, and the hand-cranking of the machine and the type-setting by hand continued relentlessly until he sold out in 1933, ending a father-and-son ownership of nearly 70 years.

When the undertaking changed hands in 1933, J. S. P, Denny, who was on the staff of the Southwold Press, became proprietor. Within a year the old manual press, which took at least four men to work, was scrapped and replaced with a power-driven flatbed machine. In 1935 hand setting of type gave way to machine setting on a ‘Typograph’. After the installation of the ‘Typograph’, almost immediately, the size and form of the paper was changed and remained in that form up to the 1950s. Two pages, printed and supplied by a London publishing firm, were discontinued, and the paper was produced entirely in Halesworth. It was in 1935 that the largest edition ever was published. This coincided with the staging of the Suffolk Show at Halesworth, and the Halesworth Times that week became a 12-page newspaper. In 1945 an amalgamation resulted in the Halesworth Press, Ltd., being formed, the directors of which were Mr., Denny and Mr. H. L. Fairweather. Within a few years modern Linotypes—typesetting machines as used by the national newspapers of the day - were installed.

4.8.2 Mass production
Another craft skill that failed to take off in Halesworth, despite reaching factory scale within one generation, was shoemaking. Mechanisation of the assembly of shoes evolved slowly, step-by-step, often in the face of fierce opposition. In the 1850s, a total of 45 persons comprised the town’s shoemaking trade (Table 4.10). Only one of these craftsmen appeared to be a business with employees. This was Nathaniel Shore who was listed with 2 men. The trade seemed to run in several families. In one of these households, the Cullingfords, the head, Jebus was a master shoemaker, his son James was a journeyman shoemaker and his daughter Caroline was a shoebinder. Shoebinding was quite often a job for women. As a one man business an individual completed the making of a shoe from the cutting out of the leather for the soles and the uppers, to the adding of the final touches which gave his work individuality. A shoe today is the product of many individuals; on a man's welted shoe there may be as many as a hundred and fifty separate operations, each one requiring a different machine and operator for its completion.

Table 4.10 Persons in the shoemaking trade: Halesworth 1851 census

Master shoemaker
Journeyman shoemaker
Shoemaker’s apprentice
Shoemaker’s assistant
Bootmaker’s apprentice
Pauper shoemaker

A boost to innovations came towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars to help overcome the serious shortage of footwear for troops abroad. In response, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, produced a range of machines with an output of 400 pairs of boots per day. The soles and uppers were united by nails "dropped with unerring accuracy into place and driven at one blow, the machine making its own nails". With the end of the war, however, the machines were dismantled and eventually destroyed by a fire. For a number of years nothing more was heard of mechanisation, but in 1841 Elias Howe, an American, invented a machine for sewing upper leather, and this quickly gained popularity. Among the users of this machine was Lyman Blake, also an American, who conceived the idea of developing Howe's machine to enable it to sew sole leather. By 1858 Blake had produced the first model of his machine, which by enabling the sole and upper to be united by sewing, completely revolutionised the shoemaking industry.

Despite bitter anti-machinery strikes and riots on a national scale, mechanisation continued to make progress, and in 1872, Charles Goodyear introduced a group of machines, which enabled footwear to be made on the same principle as that employed by the "hand-sewn" craftsman. This development in the making of shoes by machinery gave the industry new impetus; no longer was machine-made footwear looked upon as crude, uncomfortable, and only to be considered because of its cheapness.

These innovations were followed by heel attaching machines, sole edge trimming machines, polishing machines, etc., until practically the only important operation which could not be performed mechanically was that of "lasting", i.e. the stretching and securing in position of the shoe upper materials of the "last". This is the foot-shaped form on which practically all shoes are made, but around 1890 machines for even this difficult operation were on the market. So it was that by the 1870’s that Halesworth appeared to offer an opportunity for establishing a factory for the mass production of shoes. The entrepreneur was Walter Ives from Laxfield, who began work in Halesworth as a leather dresser. In the 1881 census Ives’ bootmaking establishment in Bridge St was employing 44 people representing six stages of the assembly line. This was the same number that represented Halesworth’s total shoecraft base in 1851.

An obvious question is; how was the raw material side of Ives’ business organised? John Hayward was described as a leather merchant in the 1881 census with a staff of 10. This enterprise was probably concerned with the conversion of skins to leather, but there is no evidence of the volume of trade. The position of the town at the head of the vast tract of Blyth cattle marshes makes it reasonable to assume that Halesworth was a natural focus for hides derived from beasts that were slaughtered to supply local butchers, and could also draw upon animals from numerous dairy herds of the upper valleys. A similar geographical conjunction of livestock rearing and entrepreneurial initiative gave rise to Clarke’s of Street in Somerset, on the edge of the reclaimed Somerset Levels. Clarkes is still in business on the same site, Ives’ efforts were terminated in the second generation. His son Charles Samuel continued Ives factory into the next century. Charles being childless, there were no grandchildren to continue a shoemaking dynasty, and the business was not attractive to other investors.

A similar process was taking over the craft of Halesworth’s smiths. The industrialisation of blacksmith’s skills was already underway by the 1850s in the hands of Easterson & Son, iron and brass founders and implement makers (Fig. 4.15). Easterson’s workforce listed in the 1851 census was 11 men and boys. Metalworking was one of the first crafts to be absorbed into the process of mass production and two Blything companies producing farm implements and machinery on an international scale were Garretts of Leiston and Smyths of Peasenhall. Both enterprises began in the 18th century through the ideas and determination of two village blacksmiths. At the same time as these assembly lines were being created in Suffolk to produce ploughs and seed drills, the role of village blacksmiths in the production of smaller metal goods were being undermined by mass production in the Midlands. The town ironmonger had arrived who retailed everything from bar iron and nails to electroplated silver teapots and cutlery. Such was the stock of Burgess’ Halesworth warehouse (Fig. 4.16).

The other mass production system in Halesworth in the mid-century was Samuel Smith’s East Suffolk Carriage Works. Samuel was previously the foreman of Thomas Brown’s coachworks in the town, and after the demise of his employer he took over the business. In an advert he placed in the Halesworth Times for December 1855 he begs:
‘…most respectfully to inform the Nobility, Clergy and Gentry, and the Inhabitants of Halesworth and its vicinity, that he is carrying on the above business in all its branches, and most earnestly solicits a continuation of the patronage so liberally conferred upon his predecessor; assuring them that it will be his anxious study by first rate workmanship and reasonable charges to merit their confidence and support’.

He was prepared to make ‘carriages of every description, of the most approved London style, made to order’.

There was a favourable response and Smith’s company developed by 1881 to employ blacksmiths, joiner body makers, trimmers and painters. Samuel seems to have died in the interim and the business was left in the hands of Sarah, his wife, with a works manager in charge of the process of assembly. It continued to prosper and in 1885 the Halesworth Almanack stated it was employing a hundred men.

Fig. 4.15 Advertisement from the Halesworth Times, December 18th 1855


Like Clays printing works in Bungay, coachbuilding in Halesworth had the critical mass necessary to impart export know-how via its qualified apprentices. John Hammond Etheridge was born in Halesworth in 1846 and was apprenticed to the East Suffolk Carriage Works, where he was employed for about 50 years. Some of his family experience rubbed off on his sons. John, his eldest son, born in 1869, emigrated to Africa, where he was involved in the 'siege of Kimberley' during the Boer war. He settled in Eldoret Kenya, where he established ' The Excelsior Carriage Works'. The second son, James Edward born in1871, emigrated to New Zealand in 1903, and became a coach and motor body builder.

Fig. 4.16 Advertisement from the Halesworth Times, December 18th 1855

All this commercial activity is a measure of Halesworth’s attempts to break out of its isolated and seemingly unfavourable inland situation away from ports and the main road linking Yarmouth and London. The town’s economic success began at the end of Suffolk’s ‘age of wood’. Local carpenter architects, who for a thousand years or more had been responsible for Halesworth’s timber-framed buildings, were no more. Bricklayers were now meeting the infrastructure of the town’s expanding economy. One of the earliest mass demands for bricks was to build maltings and the quays, locks and bridges associated with the Blyth Navigation, but we really know next to nothing about the details of this new phase of investment. A rare document from the Building Committee charged with erecting the workhouse at Bulcamp tells of contracts to a John Borrett and James Pepper of Halesworth to supply the many tens of thousands of bricks required for the job. At a cost of around £11000 the workhouse must have been the largest building ever constructed in this part of Suffolk. This all took place in the 1760s. During the next century, Robert Smith’s brickworks at Church Farm appears to have been established in response to the local demand for bricks associated with the rebuilding of a substantial part of Halesworth’s retail centre during the first half of the19th century.

There was also another enterprise on the Mells brickfields, which was also involved in this activity and was notable for its white/grey bricks used in the construction of the town’s first middle class terraces and villas.

4.8.3 An educational model
The work of all these Halesworth innovators carrying forward the outlook and the ambitions of their age, burst into flame during the 19th century. Standing back and taking a national view, if we ask why the spinning of cotton was transferred from the hand-wheel to the machine, why the steam engine supplanted water-power, why Adam Smith attacked the authoritative regulation of economic effort, the answer is that material progress was confined by methods no longer adequate to an expanding economic unity and a growing population. In East Anglia the local woodlands had been stripped of timber, there were customers unsatisfied, markets only half-exploited, would-be workers only partially employed. New methods, ingenious ideas and novel departures of organisation came to people like Walter Ives, not merely because people needed shoes made by machines, but because an individual wanted them manufactured that way, and customers were well enough off to purchase them and accept the changes the new methods brought. The truth of this is established by the fact that the actual origin of par­ticular inventions is often a matter of dispute. Why is it difficult to establish Arkwright's claim as an inventor? What were the relations of Lewis Paul to the later textile innovators? Why did Dudley's secret of the use of coal for smelting die with him, and remain an enigma till Abraham Darby revived it fifty years later? Why were patents disliked in the eighteenth century? Why did the Society of Arts offer rewards to stimulate the devising of new machines? New inventions were, so to speak, in the air: the environment was favourable to industrial progress. The inventions, the improved communications, the amplifying of the financial system, in fact all the achievements of the Halesworth investors, innovators and manufacturers represent one movement. They were mutual determinants and all worked together for the national economic good.

The industrial revolution came to Halesworth as a series of improve­ments rather than a series of startling innovations, and these improvements were of more than one kind. Initially there was a good spread of industry through the town although malting soon came to the fore. The elaboration of mass production at any level necessitated the recruitment, and in some cases the special training, of the workers. There had to be new ways of allocating the workers' in­dustrial functions, the successive conquest of processes, and parts of processes, by machinery. An appropriate industrial discipline had to be devised for the factory as well as of the factory itself. Adequate marketing arrangements had to be elaborated and there had to be a restless search for new markets. Sarah Smith as much as Patrick Stead had to follow these basic rules in her manufactures for the town’s age of plenty.

This brief summary of 19th century Halesworth as a manufacturing centre gives an idea of the increasing scale of its businesses. According to Fordham, towards the end of the century, enterprises employing ten or more persons accounted for about a quarter of the town’s jobs. However, the surface of this topic has only been scratched. Part of the problem is the absence of records. Sufficient is known to indicate Halesworth is a good educational model for charting the principles governing the rise of industry and the organisation of its processes of mass production, but we can only wonder at the quantity of information about day to day business activities and financial accounts that must have been lost over the years. The topic framework described above and summarised in Fig. 4.17 is also useful for researching the outstanding question of industrialisation.

Fig. 4.17 Halesworth model of manufacturing in the 19th century

fig4.17.jpgWhy, in the long string of market towns along the Suffolk coast, some were successful in meeting the opportunities of mass production and others were not? Halesworth shows that it was often down to the random interactions between individuals and the town economy, but does this prove the rule?

The true character of the new industrialism is not easily described. Was the Suffolk, which issued from the in­dustrial revolution, the society of Charles Dickens, or of the classical economists, or the tyranny painted by the anti-Capitalists, or the futile activity of consumerism seen by Thomas Carlyle? The historian has to rely on the voices that were articulate, but limited to census records, advertisements and legal documents in this period, and they all sang different songs. To some people in these (and any) decades, Halesworth was obviously going to the dogs—the well-off and the badly-off may be expected at any time to agree on this. To others, especially to those who were able to force their way up the new avenues to wealth, the opposite was true. Seen from a distance, the expanding industries went from strength to strength but looked at closely, there were ups and downs. Whatever the tones of the picture presented as a portrait of the town’s new industrialism, they will be composed from the varying colours of contemporary view, intermingled with the knowledge gained from sub­sequent experience and the wider national context of trade and politics. In a sense the history of technology in the years from the 1780s to 1860s is the history of a continuing industrial revolution, which every new generation saw in different terms. But technical innovations, however important they were in multiplying industrial output, did not make up the whole story. The social order, which had been transmitted from the past and re-formulated in terms of 18th century philosophy, was transformed under the influence of coal, iron, cotton, steam, and ideas of growth and progress. To the people of Blything shopping in Burgesse’s warehouse, it must have seemed as if England was fitted to be the emporium of worldwide commerce. However, the centre was shifting even then, and a trip to Dyers would have revealed cheap cotton dresses made from cloth imported from India and colour-printed in Lancashire; a trade movement that has relentlessly led to the present day, when the Far East clothes the whole of Europe.

If the marriage between capitalism and manufacturing technology produces such dynamism and such rapid progress in the creation of family wealth, why should we be cautious about the present day effects of this union and anxious for the future? We now see that the answer to this question explains the 'failure of success'. At the beginning of the industrial revolution humankind was still dwarfed by the forces of nature. It was possible to see the natural resources of the world as unlimited and capable of recovering from even the heaviest onslaughts that human beings could muster. This became evident in the mahogany and rosewood furnishings sold by a wide range of Halesworth’s retailers. Today this imbalance of power is reversed. Human­kind, learning from the British experience, has the power to plunder from almost any environment and to destroy the very foundations of our life: the soil, the seas, lakes and rivers, the forests and natural habitats of countless species, and even the atmosphere. Despite the fact that we now have obtained advanced and accurate knowledge of this destruction, we are powerless to act on the information because we lack initiatives that are related to collective interests and collective responsibility for sustaining our planet. Instead, major institutions are founded on capitalist imperatives that recognize only the major constraints and short-term opportunities of the capitalist system, in particular the view that profit is supreme. In this system there are no brakes, and very few means of slowing down destruction. It will continue to expand on the basis of profitable exploitation until the resources, such as Suffolk’s oak woods, have disappeared or the environment has been destroyed. One is, therefore, unlikely to see such a curriculum introduced coherently into the higher education system. Only small fragments of such a cultural curriculum will find viable niches.

These fundamental impediments arise because education, contrary to the views of many environmentalists, is not going to be the motor of major social and environmental change. If we want to see a radical curriculum, then education has to be part of the larger alternative social and economic system referred to above. Such a system is not likely to be brought about by the efforts of educators and idealists alone. A minority of educationalists feels that it is more likely to proceed from the actions of the mass of people, confronted with the increasing inadequacies and contradictions of the capitalist economic system. But precisely how these actions are to come about and how they are to be encouraged must, of course, constitute one of the more important items in the radical environmental curriculum itself. It is here that socio-economic models of the Halesworth kind provide the starting point from a time when the relationships between people and environmental resources were relatively simple, to today when orang-utans are on the verge of extinction because of the world’s insatiable demand for tropical wood.