Joe hods a bunch of Sea Lavendar, Reydon mill.

Joe holds a bunch of Sea Lavender, Reydon mill.

At the opposite end of Blackshore to the harbour mouth are Reydon marshes. The saltmarsh is a haven for wildlife, and in the summer has drifts of sea lavender. Despite its name, this pretty pink-flowered plant is not a true lavender. Its Latin name is limonium vulgare.

There hasn’t been a quayside at Reydon for almost a hundred years, but when the Southwold Railway was built in 1879 it was essential to include a swinging span of the river bridge to allow tall ships along the river Blyth to Reydon. This span was replaced in 1914 together with the rest of the bridge when it was widened. This was to enable it to take a 4’8½” track, in anticipation of upgrading the whole railway line to standard gauge. The Great War intervened and the conversion never happened, but obviously at the time there was still a quay at Reydon which required access. The Quay Inn in Reydon was still a busy pub in 1895, but as the trade at the quay dwindled the pub closed down in the early years of the twentieth century.

The main export cargoes from Reydon quay had been agricultural produce such as corn and bark from the nearby farms, but as far as imports went coal was of major importance. It was transshipped at Reydon quay to wherries and taken up-stream to Halesworth. A wherry called the Star was used to carry coal to Halesworth as late as 1911; the main export from Halesworth had previously been malt, taken to London for the brewery business. This was ended by the arrival of the East Suffolk railway in 1854. It was locks that made the Blyth navigable, and these were built on the river and its tributary in the 18th century.

The Bailey Bridge

The Bailey Bridge in 1958

A bridge still exists across the river at Blackshore although it was rebuilt after the Second World War. All but one span of the railway bridge was blown up by the Home Guard during the early part of the war. This was not popular locally and seems to have served little purpose in impeding an advance following possible German landing. By 1947 the missing sections had been replaced by a temporary Bailey bridge, the remaining span being part of the railway bridge of 1914.  The Bailey bridge was itself replaced by a more permanent structure during the 1960s, and the remaining span of the railway bridge was finally demolished at the same time. Some piers of the railway bridge however remain to support the new bridge. On this rebuilt bridge it is possible for pedestrians and cyclists to reach Walberswick without using the ferry. It is quite a long walk though, so the ferry is still well used when it runs during the summer months.

Reydon mill

Reydon mill

At the riverside at Reydon there was, besides the quay, a drainage wind pump. This brick-built tower mill was constructed as a wind pump to drain the marshes. It was built in 1894, but before the 19th century was over it had been severely damaged in a gale. Consequently it had been a derelict shell for over hundred years when it was restored in 2002. You  can see how it used to look in this picture taken in 1958.

Southwold and Reydon are divided by Buss Creek, and this makes Southwold a virtual island. Mights Bridge across Buss Creek provides the only vehicular access to the town. It gets its name from the Herring Buss, a type of Dutch fishing boat. Presumably these used to anchor there. This long waterway was formerly a tidal branch of the river Blyth. Since a weir was constructed at the river end of the creek (before I was born) it is for most of its length non-tidal. The resulting freshwater has allowed Buss Creek to become a popular stretch of water for fishing. However much of its length is now swamp rather than open water. At the other end of Reydon the original Wolsey’s Bridge across the river Wang on the Halesworth Road was paid for by the Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the reign of Henry VIII. As a Suffolk man his generosity was particularly directed towards his native county.




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