Wandering from my regular patch I need to put down some thoughts about Southwold in Suffolk.
I have been a regular visitor to Southwold (Adnams’ town) in Suffolk since the 1960’s and am saddened by the changes that have taken place in the last few years. Many of the small traders have closed down, and the businesses have been replaced by the familiar retail outlets that now populate the high streets of so many of our seaside towns and tourist hotspots.
The useful department store that was at the bottom of Southwold’s main street is now a Fat Face clothing shop – oh joy! Lloyds bank has also deserted its customers by shutting its Southwold branch; an attractive building that occupies a prominent position opposite the Swan Hotel. Even Tesco has now invaded the town centre.
On my last visit, I noticed that the excellent electrical retailer near the marketplace has also disappeared. The art gallery, the amber jewellery shop and the upmarket clothing shop, Denny of Southwold, are surviving for the time being, but a well-stocked bookshop has also been lost. So, the exceptions considered; what is left? Coffee shops, cafes, boutiques and expensive restaurants.
There is of course still much to attract the visitor to Southwold. The beach is superb, and I love the little Gun Hill Beach Cafe where the smell of bacon cooking in the early morning will stimulate anyone’s appetite. The harbour is always interesting and is worth a visit to buy some fresh fish, and the pier is an attractive asset, its unique features entertaining thousands of visitors each year.
Perhaps I am suffering from nostalgia for a seaside resort that once provided so many happy times for my family. Change is inevitable of course, however, I do feel that Southwold’s changes are ultimately only to the benefit of corporate balance sheets.
Don’t let me put you off a visit. After all, I still use a film camera and play vinyl records! Be aware though that parking in Southwold during the summer is becoming extremely difficult and if you use the official car parks, the charges are high.
For me, Aldeburgh now has the edge over its Sole Bay neighbour. Many of the original shops are still in business, and the town has retained its old world charm. I shall be heading there in future.