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Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

The Family History Research Centre 

The Group runs an informal family history Research Centre in Leiston.  It is in the Leiston Council offices, open to all — members and non-members — free of charge.

Due to coronavirus, normal meetings and activities have changed. Find up-to-date information on our website: http://aldevalleyfamilyhistorygroup.onesuffolk.net/

The Research Centre contains much local information which is not available online, including graveyard catalogues for Benhall, Saxmundham, Leiston, Eastbridge, Aldringham and Sutton, censuses, directories, information on local war memorials, books and historic maps.  We have a large number of CDs and microfiches of local interest — in fact, we hold a wide variety of records for Suffolk and other counties.  An index is available. There are also computers with internet, a printer and a scanner. Experienced family history researchers are present to give assistance if required.  The Group looks forward to helping you with your research, including the guilty pleasure of tracing those elusive black sheep!

The Research Centre is upstairs in the old Council Offices, Main Street, Leiston, IP16 4ER, in the same building as, and to the right of, the Library, opposite the Long Shop Museum.  Please note that access is by a steep staircase.  You can park outside free of charge for one hour, or there's an “unlimited” free car park in Valley Road — go straight down past Barclays Bank and it's 100 yards or so on the right.To gain access to the Research Centre on a Saturday morning, you will need to ring the doorbell, and wait for one of the volunteers on duty to 'run' down the stairs to welcome you and let you in — we keep the door locked to deter nefarious intruders. Visitors are always most welcome.


Monday, 20th September at 7.30pm on Zoom - Martlesham Heath Aviation Society: "Martlesham Heath - from The Royal Flying Corps to The Jet Age”.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) came into being on 13th March 1912.  Martlesham Heath Airfield was opened in January 1917 to become the premier national centre for the testing and evaluation of aircraft and armaments, only nine years after the first recorded flight of a heavier-than-air machine in Britain.  That October, the operations at Martlesham Heath were given the name "The Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Royal Flying Corps", and it has been described as "The Cradle of British Aviation".

On 1st April 1918, the RFC was merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the Royal Air Force, the oldest independent air force in the world.

In 1936, radar research and development (R&D) commenced at nearby Bawdsey Manor, and aircraft from Martlesham were available to assist when necessary, taking part in the first successful radar detection of ships from the air — and also fortuitously of other aircraft taking off from HMS Courageous.
Three days before the outbreak of the second world war, the Establishment was moved away to Wiltshire, and the station became part of 11 Group, which bore the brunt of the Battle of Britain.  Douglas Bader and Bob Stanford Tuck were separately stationed at Martlesham during 1940.

In the Spring of 1943, the 356th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force arrived, to escort USAAF Eighth Air Force heavy bombers on daylight raids over Europe.  RAF 56 Squadron remained to attack targets in France and the Low Countries, as well as shipping in the North Sea, which made Martlesham Heath one of very few joint Anglo-American airfields.
After the war it reverted once more to an R&D role, until that was relocated to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and Bedford.  With the jet-engine era, the concrete ends of the runway had been extended to avoid the tarmac melting.  Then, from 1958 to 1961, the "Battle of Britain Flight" was at the airfield — which was finally closed on 25th April 1963.
This Zoom based event is free to members, but is also available to non-members at a cost of £3. If you wish to ‘attend’ please register via our website https://avsfhg.org.uk/events/book/  and you will be sent joining instructions. 
We look forward to welcoming you on the night.
For more info see our website https://avsfhg.org.uk/events/ or phone Angela Skelcher on 01728 830949.

Oct 18 - Helen Baggott “Posted in the Past”

Nov 15 - Janet Few “ Memories of 1946-1969"

See our website  http://aldevalleyfamilyhistorygroup.onesuffolk.net/   or contact Angela Skelcher on 01728 830949 or a_skelcher@hotmail.com.