Churches of the Deben: Part 3A

By Gareth Thomas

Part 3: From MELTON and from SUTTON to the edge of THE NORTH SEA

*This might be just ten miles of estuary but it is two banks of a wide estuary and includes the ancient maritime town of Woodbridge. Consequently, for the sake of both compilers and readers, Part 3 will be presented in two sections: 3A and 3B

3A: From Sutton to The North Sea

Welcome back to those readers who have survived the first two parts of this three (now four) – part series. As I explained in part one, I had no idea that there would be so many churches in close approximation to the River Deben, either as it is now or as it was, before the building of the river walls. Conversations with others suggest that I have not been alone in my ignorance; ‘forty-odd ! – that surely cannot be’ they say, but forty-odd it will be by the time we have finished – more than one church per sinuous mile of river.  Continue reading

The importance of the River Deben for birds

By Sally Westwood

Common Buzzard


Deben Estuary and changing tides

The River Deben is thought to commence west of Ulveston Hall, near Mickfield, alternatively the Deben may stem from the south in Bedingfield1. The river flows along gradually turning into an estuary between Melton and Woodbridge, and enters the North Sea at Harwich Haven, between Bawdsey and Felixstowe Ferry. A significant feature of the Deben Estuary is the changing tides. The tide is described as “the ocean’s response to the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun”2 but more specifically, “it is the variation in this pull over the surface of the Earth that makes tides”3. When tide is rising and coming in, the North Sea washes heavy sediment4 into the Deben which forms intertidal flats around the area of the mouth of the estuary at Felixstowe Ferry. This produces sand and shingle beaches. Finer silt is driven along the estuary into the river to form the mudflats we see at the sides of the river near Woodbridge, and more extensively further along the river at Melton, Wilford Bridge and beyond. The tide rises and falls twice a day5. High water on the River Deben occurs at intervals of approximately twelve hours, and the tide starts ebbing to low tide about six hours following high tide. High tide occurs one hour later each day. The height of the tide is affected by both the strength and direction of wind and atmospheric pressure6.


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River Deben Swimming and the Elephant in the Room

By Ruth Leach

This is an extended version of Ruth Leach’s article ‘The Deben Bluetits Swim Group’, published on The Deben #68. It’s written in her capacity as co-founder of the Save the Deben campaign group and contains an update on water quality. This topic is scheduled for panel discussion at the River Deben Association’s forthcoming AGM, April 24th 2024.

During the recent pandemic our lives were deconstructed in so many ways, ‘free time’ – that precious commodity, was suddenly in abundance for many of us. People reconnected with their natural environment and for those fortunate enough to be near a blue space the love affair with nature soon flourished. Continue reading

Volunteers Running an International Event

By Alice Thorogood

Credit: Corinne Whitehouse


The UK Cadet Class World Championships take place in Plymouth this summer. They are completely volunteer run. Alice Thorogood of Waldringfield Sailing Club explains what’s involved and how you can show your support for these young sailors:

How did we get into this? A personal introduction

My eldest, Gwen, was just eight when she first stepped onboard a Cadet with Waldringfield sailor Hattie Collingridge and disappeared across the Deben. We didn’t plan it, we had never thought about sailing as a hobby for our children; I’m not from a sailing background at all and though it turns out that my husband, Frank, has the water of the Deben in his veins, he too had very little experience of dinghy sailing. That world felt “other” to us, with its strange new language and an elitist image that felt slightly difficult to navigate. However, we were charmed by Hattie and her clear love of the sport, that teamed with the easy welcome of Waldringfield Cadet Squadron and we were as hooked as Gwen clearly seemed to be when she came bouncing up the beach all wide eyed and exuberant from her first taste of Cadet sailing. Continue reading

Churches of the Deben: Part 1

By Gareth Thomas

The Church of St Mary of Grace in Aspall

Several months ago (probably almost a year but time flies by so fast!), I was asked by the editor if I would consider writing an article about the Churches of the Deben. With entirely misguided confidence I replied in the affirmative with the proviso that, due to some more immediate commitments, there might be some delay. Continue reading

Remembrance Sunday 2023: Two Films from Tim Curtis (We Fought Them in Gunboats & Stanley’s War)

By Julia Jones

Tim Curtis.

On November 12th 2023 the Riverside Cinema Woodbridge will show two wartime documentaries by Woodbridge-based director Tim Curtis. Tim is probably best known to RDA Journal readers for the highly successful Life on the Deben project – 6000 DVDs and Blu Rays sold in the first year, more than 15,000 cinema and festival viewers and over £5000 donations made to Deben good causes. Earlier this year (2023) Tim made a short film ‘How Polluted is the Deben?’ which was shown together with ‘A Surge of Memories’ (not by Tim) commemorating the floods of 1953 and tidal surge of 2013. Continue reading

Felixstowe Ferry and Flyingboats

By Phil Boak

Between the years 1913-1962, Felixstowe was a major flyingboat base, with the aircraft operating from the River Orwell on the site now occupied by the Docks. Operating during WW1, flyingboats partook in anti-submarine patrols of the North Sea. In the interwar years, the focus switched to research and development, with the performance of the seaplanes and flyinboats carefully evaluated through tests and trials. On completion of their operational lives, several of the larger flyingboat hulls were taken to the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry and repurposed as houseboats, providing picturesque, if not cramped accommodation. This short article brings together before-and-after images of six such flyingboats, with a summary about what is currently known about them. Continue reading

Protecting the Lady

By Julia Jones and Charles Payton

On August 9th 2023 Historic England put out the following press release:

The iron hulk of the Lady Alice Kenlis, designed by the same shipwright as the Cutty Sark, has been granted protection by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England. 

The Lady Alice Kenlis was an iron steamship designed by Hercules Linton in 1867. He is the designer of the internationally renowned Cutty Sark, launched two years later in 1869. The Cutty Sark (now at Royal Museums Greenwich) was a state-of-the-art Victorian tea clipper. It was one of the fastest of its time, making the journey from Sydney to London by sail in 73 days.

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