Heyday of abandoned farm recalled

IT may stand lonely and forlorn, far from other properties, in the middle of marshes, but Holmhill Farm has brought back a wealth of memories.The farm was abandoned after the 1953 floods when the surge swept up the Deben and across the low-lying farmland north of Felixstowe Ferry.

IT may stand lonely and forlorn, far from other properties, in the middle of marshes, but Holmhill Farm has brought back a wealth of memories.

The farm was abandoned after the 1953 floods when the surge swept up the Deben and across the low-lying farmland north of Felixstowe Ferry.

It is understood the river and sea water got into the farm's well, polluting it - and without clean water the house was uninhabitable.

Maps supplied by collector Dave King showed the access was from Marsh Lane and there was a footpath from the river wall, which went past the farm to another building to the northwest.


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“The farm was quite substantial, so I am wondering what happened to the rest of it,” he said.

Eric Cook, 89, of Kemsley Road, Felixstowe, recalls his great aunt, his grandfather's sister, living at the house in the 1920s and visiting the farm when he was about ten.

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Her name was Harriet Perkins and her husband is believed to be Herbert, though the family called him Hubby, and they had a son Charlie, manager of the shop at Kirton.

Mr Cook recalled walking down to the farm to get goat's milk for his family who lived in St Andrew's Road, Felixstowe.

John Ranner, of Deben Way, Felixstowe, worked on the farm, known locally as Rats Hall Farm.

Stan Denny and his wife lived in the house for many years, and at the time of the floods it was occupied by Albert Brundish and his wife, working for Charles Dawson.

Mr Ranner said on the day of the floods he was sent to feed young cattle stock housed in two yards at Holmhill.

“My father Tom and Charlie Pleasance were milking the Friesian herd, and suggested that it had been snowing further down the lane as a white line could be seen in the half light,” he said.

“Sent on my way, I soon discovered that the white line was in fact water.”

Occupants of the farm and nearby marshman's cottage, which was later demolished, had to be rescued by boat as the water was too deep for men with carts to reach them.

Tell us your memories of Holmhill Farm - Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

BRIAN Ranner can remember the Felixstowe marshes looking very different 60 years ago.

“For a long time after the flood there was a complete farm at Holmhills, the other buildings being demolished in the 1980s or 1990s,” he said.

“It is difficult to imagine now but prior to the flood the roadway to Holmhills and beyond was lined with large poplar trees that were either killed by the salt water or burned where they stood when stubble burning was in vogue.

“There were also trees in two small woods on the farm that were killed by the flood.

“The high ground was divided into four fields by hedges while on the highest point was an orchard that went with one or two cottages that previously stood there.

“It is sad that this is probably the only farmland in Suffolk where no trees have been planted in the last 50 years.”

Mr Ranner, who lived at Rues Cottages, Marsh Lane, recalled riding with the postman to the farm as a child.

“The postman would let us steer while sitting on his lap, great fun, just after the war when there were not many cars about - but it did mean we had to open and shut all the gates,” he said.

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