The water is lifted by an external scoopwheel. It remained in regular use until the early 1950s. The coast, rivers and waterways of East Anglia have their own special place in the lives of our ancestors through work, transportation and leisure. What follows under each county is a closer look at some of the key trades and occupations.
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Fishing is a dominant theme across the region, and no mention of trade could ignore the many thriving ports which acted as a focal point for people moving in and out, as well as the transport of goods and numerous trades and occupations. Unofficial commerce such as piracy and smuggling undoubtedly contributed to East Anglia’s economic life, and was possibly of greater importance to some towns and villages than fishing. The Suffolk coast was very popular for smuggling as it was less well defended than Essex or Kent.
In 1224 for example, residents in Orford were requested to assist the Keeper of the Shore to prevent smuggling, while records at Ipswich Record Office include a 1550-51 order from the High Admiral to the Vice-Admiral in Norfolk and Suffolk requesting he: . take a view of all ships and seamen in his area . and to give order for arrest of English, Scottish or other sea rovers and pirates. Suffolk was also home to two of the most famous women pirates of the sixteenth century: Lady Mary Killigrew from Woolverstone and Margery, wife of Peter Lambert of Aldeburgh. By 1626 the incumbent of Santon Downham was writing in his diary of the Dunkirkers ‘who troubled our seas’, while Captain Francis Sydenham was sent to Orfordness in 1630 in an attempt to repel the groups of pirates based at Dunkirk in France attacking defenceless shipping. Tea, brandy, silk and lace were the staple commodities in the eighteenth century, with much large-scale smuggling organized by traders in the Flemish ports, who covered their activities with legal trading. People at all levels of society are known to have colluded with their activities through either a mixture of self-interest or intimidation.
Parson Woodforde recorded in his diary how, in March 1777, ‘Andrews the Smuggler brought me this night about 11 o’clock a bagg of Hyson Tea 6 Pd weight’. Then, in December 1786: ‘Had another Tub of Gin and another of the best Conias Brandy brought me this Evening’. Edward Cox Tooby, a Customs and Excise supervisor, was seriously injured in 1816 when a cargo of contraband was landed at Caister just north of Great Yarmouth. When the six smugglers captured were bailed at the local court, these records indicate a certain amount of tolerance towards their activities, as local people stood surety for those on trial. A later newspaper report in February 1822 described how a boat landed eighty tubs of gin and brandy on Snettisham beach, where twenty or thirty horses and carts were waiting to move the goods. When excise officers seized the cargo part of it was rescued by the smugglers with the help of about 100 others. Parish registers frequently include references to drowned sailors and lost ships, and, although not strictly occupational, lighthouses and lifeboats have played a crucial role in the lives of those who have lived and worked on the coast.
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