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Historian Martyn Taylor's new book revives 'lost' memories of Bury St Edmunds

From the Westgate Brewery Fire Brigade to the glory days of Rollerbury, faces and scenes from a bygone era of Bury St Edmunds have been captured in a new book.

Historian Martyn Taylor hopes his latest work, Lost Bury St Edmunds, will rekindle memories of individuals and places that left their mark on the town.

“They’re lost but not forgotten,” Martyn said. “It’s about the human stories and communities that don’t really exist anymore.

Rollerbury (17398148)
Rollerbury (17398148)

“I’ve had emails to say it’s my best book yet.”

It is his eighth book published with Amberley and boasts more than 150 photographs with fascinating tales about schools, recreation, shops, commercial enterprises and the changing face of Bury.

In one section, Martyn shines the spotlight on Greene King’s fire brigade, which was set up ‘as insurance for their brewery and numerous public houses’.

Westgate Brewery Fire Brigade (17398165)
Westgate Brewery Fire Brigade (17398165)

At one stage it had 20 volunteer firefighters but numbers dwindled and it disbanded in 1997.

A sepia toned image from 1991 transports readers to the retirement celebrations of popular Butchers Arms landlord Frank Laslett and his wife Rene. The Butchers closed that year.

Martyn also examines the history of the former St Louis Middle School, which began life in 1929 thanks to the efforts of the Sisters of St Louis, with living quarters for the nuns and classrooms for the pupils.

Other featured venues that residents may remember are Rollerbury, which opened in 1982 and was the brainchild of Roger Williams, as well as Reflex night club on Station Hill.

The book took about a year to put together and research became a journey of discovery for Martyn, who uncovered a number of facts and stories that were new to him.

One of these was about brick collector Kenny Miles, who acquired two bricks from the Greene King brewery chimney when it was demolished in August 1983. There was also the discovery of four huge concrete cubes at the Spread Eagle crossroads last year, which were used for roadblocks during World War Two.

His favourite tales are those which ‘concern human and business connections’ such as O.P. Nice & Sons and Arthur Smith as well as Hopwoods in St John’s Street.

The book is available from the tourist information point at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, both branches of Waterstones, The Apex and Moyse’s Hall Museum.

Martyn will hold signings at Waterstones, in Buttermarket, on October 5 and the Cathedral Shop on November 16, both from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

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