Beccles today is a thriving market town with an active community spirit, steeped in history. The picturesque town
is situated in the heart of the Waveney Valley and has many a story to tell. The narrow streets and quaint
architecture hide the sometimes turbulent history of this ancient borough with its fiercely independent citizens.
The Baptist church in Station Road stands near the site where, in the 16th Century, three martyrs were burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs. Here Chateaubriand, French aristocrat and writer, found refuge from the turbulence which was France at the end of the 18th Century. In the parish church Rev Edmund Nelson married a local girl called Catherine Suckling, and out of their union came Horatio Nelson, Britain’s greatest Admiral. The Sir John Leman School was founded more than 350 years ago by a man who, like Dick Whittington, found his fortune as Lord Mayor of London. Many of its students have become stars in the contrasting galaxies of science and the arts, including Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin and Sir John Mills whose lifelong contribution to stage and screen is unrivalled.
Other distinguished names growing up within the confines of the Beccles area include author and farmer Adrian Bell, father of BBC war correspondent Martin Bell, Second World War military leader, Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck, Sir Stanley Rous, Football Association Chairman and globetrotting television pundit, Sir David Frost.
The town signs, now placed at each of the five entrances to the town, depict the presentation of the Borough Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584 and remind us of the independent spirit of the people fighting for their town and community.
Beccles is under the umbrella of Waveney District Council, the Broads Authority and Suffolk County Council who all work together to provide the community and visitors with amenities for modern living. Hand in hand with these authorities is the Beccles Townlands Trust (Feoffees) an ancient charity, and the Beccles Society who endeavour to keep the town of Beccles as close to its historic roots as possible without stopping progress.
Over the past years, Beccles has grown into a busy and vibrant market town with new businesses starting up. The town has one of the finest museums to be found anywhere and a well equipped harbour complete with a Tourist Information Centre, toilets, shop and childrens’ play area.
The Quay is used during the summer for annual events such as the Beccles Carnival, the Duck Race and the Harvest Moon Free Music Festival.
Other well-used facilities are the County Library, a first-class year round sports centre and, nearby, an indoor bowls hall. At this moment, an independent group of people have undertaken the management and refurbishment of the outdoor pool situated in Puddingmoor as, for the first time in its long history, the pool was closed by Waveney District Council in 2009. Fund raising efforts by this group have been rewarded and plans are in place to upgrade this facility. There is much more to do, but it means that, if the current plans are approved for the entrance, in 2010 the ‘Beccles Lido’ in Puddingmoor will be open for use by the general public.
Beccles has a diverse range of facilities which include the Waveney Enterprise Workshop, which provides sheltered but productive employment for those with special needs. The Waveney Centre caters for the over 60s and this superb social centre commands magnificent views over the beautiful River Waveney every day of the week.
Beccles has forged, through the efforts of the Beccles Twinning Association over many years, close links with Petit Couronne, France and more recently Ahlem in Germany.