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Bardwell remembers the part its Legion hall played in village life




Bardwell Royal British Legion chairwoman Sheila Ashford is pleased with Legion Rise's name. Picture by Tony Stokes ANL-150515-172702001
Bardwell Royal British Legion chairwoman Sheila Ashford is pleased with Legion Rise's name. Picture by Tony Stokes ANL-150515-172702001

When the people of Bardwell were asked to suggest names for a new street they decided it should recall the site’s past.

So on Friday, Sheila Ashford, 87, who has been the village’s Royal British Legion chairwoman for 45 years, cut the ribbon on Legion Rise because it was where the Legion’s hall was from 1935 until it fell out of use three years ago.

Villagers gather round after Sheila Ashford cut the ribbon at Legion Rise. Picture by Tony Stokes ANL-150515-172714001
Villagers gather round after Sheila Ashford cut the ribbon at Legion Rise. Picture by Tony Stokes ANL-150515-172714001

Legion Rise, built by Bardwell Developments, comprises 10 houses, of which three are social housing.

Parish council chairman Peter Sanderson said: “The council felt we ought to get people to suggest names and those who had been involved in the Royal British Legion put forward lots. We felt it was appropriate and gave it a legacy.”

Jamie Griffiths of Bardwell Developments said: “I could think of nothing better than the residents being involved in naming it.”

Sheila thought the naming was ‘lovely’ and it brought back memories of all the events they had held in the hall, which had a bar and a full-size snooker table, in a smart interior that belied its functional blue-painted corrugated iron exterior.

Like her father Arthur Rose, who joined the Suffolk Regiment at 15, the building had served in World War One.

Richard Middleditch attended the naming because it had been his great uncle Henry ‘Bob’ Middleditch who gave the land to the legion while his grandfather, Alfred Middleditch, who was a builder, had put up the building.

Richard said: “It came from Fornham Park where it was a hospital building in World War One. He took it apart and brought it here and reassembled it – he did it voluntarily.”

Photographer Tony Stokes, from Bardwell, recalled: “It must be one of the few buildings where a wedding reception was held where the bride said ‘no’ at the altar – they decided to have the reception anyway. It was also where the doctor’s surgery started.”



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