We have so many visitors to our workshop-with-store in Southwold, that it's easy for us to forget that lots of our customers online (who come from all over the world), may not know very much about the town we call home!
Southwold is a small English town situated on the North Sea coast of Suffolk, just a few miles south of Britain’s most easterly point.
The Domesday Book of 1086 records it as being a profitable fishing port, lying at the mouth of the River Blyth, responsible for much 15th Century trade.
Puritans emigrated from its shores in the 1630s, bound for a new life in Massachusetts. For those that remained, a fire in 1659, would devastate parts of the town, creating open spaces that were never rebuilt, resulting in delightful pockets of green spaces that we see today. Further expansion of the town is restricted by its surrounding protected marshes.
Southwold’s former industries were linked to that of manufacture, encompassing traditional trades such as sea salt manufacture, primarily for the salting of herrings. Southwold harbour is still one of the main fishing ports on the Suffolk coastline. Visiting Victorians took restorative hot salt water baths and it is hospitality that now leads the way for business in the town. The town is now permanent home to fewer than a thousand people, but Southwold’s influx of annual visitors now reaches over a million.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
There is much to see and do in Southwold.
- climb its grade II listed stripy lighthouse, built in 1890
- walk, play, and relax along the town’s mile-long sand and shingle beach, popualr with swimmers, windsurfers and paddle boarders
- stroll the historic fishing harbour, the upper part of which is known as the Blackshore and which provided the inspiration for Blackshore Coastal Clothing
- cross the historic bailey bridge and walk over to Walberswick on the other side of the River Blyth, or take the rowing boat ferry!
- explore the town museum, voted Suffolk museum of the year
- discover a delightful 13th Century parish church
- learn about the inception of the Sailors’ Reading Room, conceived as an alternative to sitting drinking in pubs
- stroll Southwold’s famous pier, built in 1900, originally long enough to accommodate tourist passenger steamers which, like many other UK piers, had a section temporarily removed to repel invasion during WW2
- look up at the old water tower, sitting high atop the common, imagine it holding a staggering 40,000 gallons of water, with its pump powered by sails
- seek out the seafront cannons, a reminder of the Battle of Sole Bay, an inconclusive 17th Century fracas between the combined British/French fleet against the Dutch
- take part in the model yacht regatta (celebrated since Victorian times)
- photograph Southwold’s iconic line of brightly painted beach huts
- discover Southwold’s High Street and support the town’s many independent retailers, from great food and drink, to unusual shops specialising in clothing, interiors, art, crafts, and gifts
Blackshore Coastal Clothing may be the newest independent shop in town but as for the oldest, that accolade goes to Mill and Son’s Butchers, established way back in 1684.
Blackshore Blog recently wrote about the history of textile and garment manufacture in Southwold and the origins of the Blackshore itself. Southwold’s popularity and unique character today remains strong, both as a place to live and work and as a destination to visit, rest and play.
Founder of Blackshore Coastal Clothing, Simon Middleton says:
“I’m lucky enough to live within ten minutes walk of Southwold’s centre, and to run my shop and workshop from the heart of the town. It’s such a special place, in every way, from its remarkable architecture and unique layout, to the stunning beachside location, with the marshes behind it.
“It’s the unique character of the place that gave birth to the idea of Blackshore Coastal Clothing, and as the business develops, it is the essence of Southwold that guides everything we do, from designs to textiles, to the whole look and feel of the company."