The rest of the country may well be on Recovery Road but I've just found that I'm on Shingle Street. Some varicella-zoster virus particles that have spent the last six decades having a kip in my dorsal root ganglia have woken up and decided to cause a bit of chaos. That's right, I've just been diagnosed with shingles. No chance of making my racing comeback after three years away in Sunday's 50 mile time trial or even the up-coming '25'. More time not pedalling. More frustration. Anyone want to buy a time trial bike?
Still, less time for cycling means more time to write this drivel. As I'm on Shingle Street, how about a bygone boozer from Shingle Street? "Where's Shingle Street?" I hear you chorus. It's a hamlet on the Suffolk Coast between Orford and Bawdsey and not far from Hollesley Bay where, in my teens, I visited the borstal a couple of times. To play rugby against the inmates I hasten to add, not as an inmate myself. Against all other teams we'd play home and away matches in a season but they never seemed to play away fixtures. Odd that! No beer in the bar either.
Anyhow, I digress. This is Shingle Street – or a part of it at least.
Some of you may recognise the location from Danny Boyle's 2019 film Yesterday. The scene where Jack meets John Lennon was filmed there.
According to the November 2017 edition of Cobbwebs, the newsletter of The Cobbold Family History Trust, the Lifeboat Inn likely replaced an earlier establishment in 1810. The previous boozer had been built mainly of driftwood and was known as the Old Beach House. In contrast its replacement was prefabricated, built in sections in the yard at Cobbold's original Cliff Brewery in Ipswich, before being transported by barge to Shingle Street where assembly into a two-storey pub took place.
It may date from 1810, but the first record I've found for it is in the 1841 census and even then the pub's not named.
The name has appeared by 1844...
...and by 1851 the Langmaid family have started a relationship with the Lifeboat Inn that will run for over eighty years.
When Francis and Jane retire sometime in the 1890s their son Samuel takes it on, later combining running it with earning a living as Orford's harbour master and only relinquishing his tenancy in 1935, give or take a couple of years. The tenants who follow Samuel aren't there for long, for on the 18th June 1940 the inhabitants of Shingle Street were given forty-eight hours to pack their possessions and leave as the settlement was requisitioned by the War Department. That probably included Bertie and Eva Simpson who were running the Lifeboat in 1939 according to the entry in the 1939 Register, which also shows that Samuel's widow Adelaide – Samuel having died the previous year – was still living in the hamlet.
So where's the 'now' picture of the former pub that regularly appears in my posts? Well, it was demolished. Not so unusual you think. It wasn't destroyed by developers like so many, but was "destroyed by war actions" in WW2. British war actions.
In the spring of 1943 the area was used for 'experimental bombing' with the Lifeboat Inn as the main target. Some reports say that Barnes Wallis was there and with the dam-busting Operation Chastise taking place in May of that year perhaps the Lifeboat was used as a body double for the Möhne dam.
The Möhne dam was rebuilt but all that remains of the Lifeboat are traces of its foundations. The chance of it serving again are probably a just a little better than me racing sometime this season. Still, the pubs are opening again and Jenny is still doing home delivery so things aren't really too bad. Not too bad, just a little painful with just the odd Möhne or two.
John Sutton's image is copyright and reused under this license.
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