Sounds of The Ness on BBC Radio 3 Slow Radio

Posted on June 11, 2019


In Orford Ness: A Post-Apocalyptic Walk – an episode of BBC Radio 3’s Slow Radio series, broadcast in June 2019 – composer Iain Chambers takes a sound recording field trip around Orford Ness.

Ian writes, ‘Today, Orford Ness gives an insight into what a post-apocalyptic built environment might look and sound like. Air ducts once used to ventilate missile laboratories now burst open, exposing the packed nests of roosting birds. This programme takes listeners into buildings that are otherwise out of bounds, revealing the abundant wildlife now ruling the roost in the bomb ballistics buildings – we hear seagulls “playing” the buildings with their cries; bees and skylarks; baby jackdaws duetting with the crunch of gravel footsteps; external metal stairwells transformed into aeolian harps: giant wind chimes peacefully intoning their pentatonic melodies towards the slow-moving vessels on the horizon.’

The programme can be heard at and a podcast version is also available for download.

Friend’s Garage site development update

Posted on February 20, 2019

28th October 2019

Dear Friends of Friends,


We’re aware that it’s high time for an update on the fate of the Friends Garage site.  There’s not a huge amount to tell at the moment, but we just wanted to reassure you that the negotiation is very much alive.  It can be frustratingly slow, but the pace of things is not under our control.

The situation is this;

Progress was slow over the summer, and perhaps that is to be expected with everyone on holiday.  Since early September, discussions have picked up and we continue to try to nail down the final details of an agreement.

We’re sorry that we cannot bring you anything more concrete at the moment, but we will send another update the moment any significant progress is made.  The plan remains the same, and that is to reinstate a filling station and to build a larger village shop to benefit everyone in the village and surrounding community.   Once this is done, the frustrating wait will be well worth it.

Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or helpful suggestions.  Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Ian Watkins, Edward Greenwell, Nicholas Gold & Harry Cole.

14th April 2019

Hello friends of Friends,

It’s been a while since the last update, so we wanted to outline the situation at the Friends Garage site.

Despite the gloomy sight of Friends Garage, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes on a daily basis. Negotiations for the purchase of a plot of land suitable for a filling station and shop on Front Street are well under way and a price has been agreed. This is a great milestone but it’s still early days. If things go very well, the filling station may be running by Christmas and the shop by Easter 2020 or shortly thereafter. Negotiations are proving time consuming and quite complex. The complexity is not just over the sale of the land but also around the developer’s requirements, planning, building & safety regulations and the plethora of potential suppliers involved in such a project including forecourt contractors, builders, East Suffolk Council, Highways and Suffolk Country Council. It is worth stating that East Suffolk Planning Department has been very helpful and responsive throughout, and we believe they are sympathetic to the requirement that Orford has for a filling station and retail operation.

The basic design plans for the fuel pumps and shop have been agreed subject to statutory planning and, assuming all the other pieces of the plan fit into place, we’re excited that we will have something to be pleased with as a community. We hope to be able to present plans to everyone via the Parish Council at some stage in the coming weeks. We do not see a MOT and mechanical workshop as being a part of this plan because it is not viable to service complex modern cars to compete with main dealers’ MOT and service facilities considering the investment required. Many of us would have preferred the Friends Garage we knew before, but we think this will be a good outcome for all members of the community.

We estimate that the total cost of the project will be approximately £650,000 and we are looking at various potential external sources of funding, but will in due course need grants, loans or donations from local people, many of whom already offered to help when Friends Garage closed. When we have our structure organised (a Community Interest Company we expect) we will launch an appeal for funds.

There will be further email updates as developments unfold. Thanks for your continued interest and support.

Ian Watkins, Edward Greenwell, Nicholas Gold & Harry Cole.

19th February 2019

FRIENDS GARAGE – an update

The proposed developer of the Friends garage site, Mike North, has formally withdrawn the planning application DC/18/5246/FUL lodged in December. This must in large part be in response to the overwhelming response of those who submitted their views to the Council planners and/or signed the petition calling for the application to be refused. It has been a great team effort and has certainly made our collective concerns about the site’s future very clear at Suffolk Coastal Council and its Planning Department.

Alongside that response, a group of Orford residents (Ian Watkins, Nick Gold, Edward Greenwell and Harry Cole) have been working to set up a Community Interest Company (or a similar entity) to retain a fuel and retail outlet of reasonable size and layout on the site. They have been in discussion with Mike North and Tom Massey (the owner) about a revised proposal that retains this key commercial facility and provides a larger area for a fuel pump and for an enhanced retail space, accessed off Front Street. These discussions have been useful so far, and we hope that in due course a revised proposal will emerge leading to a planning application which provides what the community needs.

We hope to agree terms for the acquisition of the required part of the site in the near future. We would then progress plans for the exact layout and appearance of this new village asset. From this a business plan would be developed, which would form the basis to seek funding to make this opportunity a reality. A number of people have already offered their generous support and the idea is that this key community asset should in future be held for the benefit of those in Orford and the surrounding villages.

There will be more updates to follow at significant moments via this newsletter, the Village Voice and communications from the Parish Council.

Harry Cole

Orford Craft Shop re-opened as Orford Craft Centre Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Posted on September 4, 2017

The Orford Craft Shop was very popular with visitors who were attracted by the eclectic range of baskets displayed in front of the shop. Much of the stock in Orford Crafts was locally made or had a local theme, including baskets, pottery, books, jams and preserves.

Previous proprietor, Stuart Bacon, is a noted marine archaeologist and has dived in the waters off Dunwich many times, exploring the ruins of the former town of Dunwich. Information gained from these dives was documented in an exhibition on the first floor. Much of this archive has been donated to Dunwich Museum or is currently stored in the Cobra Mist building on Orford Ness.

Stuart decided to retire and the shop has undergone refitting and refurbishment in the hands of the licensees of The King’s Head.

On completion of this work the shop re-opened as the Orford Craft Centre on Tuesday 22nd May.