On Saturday 13th May members of the Nancy Blackett Trust have asked me to open the Arthur Ransome Jamboree 2017 at Pin Mill in Suffolk at 12.00 noon.
Although Ransome is remembered for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books set in the Lake District he moved to the east coast of Suffolk where he set a number of his books in the series, indeed 2017 makes the 80th anniversary of ‘We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea’. You can actually meet The Goblin and see around her – since she was modelled on his own favourite little yacht, the Nancy Blackett. She will be moored at The Royal Harwich Yacht Club alongside Peter Duck one of his other much-loved yachts, named after the book he wrote that begins at Lowestoft. You should be able to park there, near the Wolverstone Marina, then walk down the riverside to Pin Mill.
I worked behind the camera on the BBC TV adaptations of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’, Ransome’s two books set on the Norfolk Broads. The Coots also visit Beccles in Suffolk. It was the Swallows who made it to Pin Mill, where the Ransome’s once stayed at Alma Cottage neat the Butt and Oyster Pub. He set his novel ‘Secret Water’ in the Walton Backwaters nearby.
I first went to Pin Mill when The Arthur Ransome Society asked me to give a talk about making this BBC serial entitled, ‘Swallows and Amazons Forever!’. This year I will be giving a talk on the secrets of filming the classic movie ‘Swallows and Amazons’, signing copies of the new edition of ‘The Making of SWALLOWS and AMAZONS – 1974’.
~The Orwell at Low tide~
Arthur Ransome’s biographer Hugh Brogan will also be giving a talk at the Pin Mill Sailing Club along with author Julia Jones, who will be signing copies of her contemporary children’s books.
~ Sophie Neville with the Nancy Blackett ~
The day promises to be great fun. There will be a geo-caching route along the footpath from Shotley to Pin Mill for those who want to arrive with intrigue, then have a go at painting as marine artists Claudia Myatt and Christine Bryant will be hosting drop-in sessions on the riverside of Pin Mill.
~Mugs with artwork by Claudia Myatt sold in aid of the Nancy Blackett Trust~
There will be an exhibition of photographs taken by Arthur Ransome himself of the building of his boat Selina King at King’s boatyard, which will be on show at the Pin Mill Studio – the first public exhibition of these pictures ever seen.
The Pin Mill Studio will also host an exhibition of photographs from the restoration of Melissa, a barge restored to her former glory by Webb’s boatyard, with additional archive images of Pin Mill from the early 1900s. There will be an outside installation of old Pin Mill images enabling you to look back in time.
The Vintage Mobile Cinema, as seen on BBC Television’s Reel History of Britain, will be showing unique archive film of Pin Mill and Shotley.
~The Nancy Blackett in her 85th year~
The Neptune Sailing school will be hosting free sailing sessions for children and adults out on the water – with equipment provided.
A Pin Mill ‘Wooden Boat’ race will be held along the stream leading down to the river or you can take a ride on the Victorian swing boats seen on the Common in years gone by. There will be a pirates and seafarers fancy dress competition for children and adults – and even a Arthur Ransome lookalike competition (pipe and moustache!) along with stalls and sideshows from local groups, charities and organisations.
Live music, including shanties from Pin Mill favourites, High Water Mark and a performance of We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea by pupils from Holbrook Academy will entertain visitors while cream teas, a barbecue and refreshments will be served at the Butt and Oyster and Pin Mill Sailing Club.
Event t-shirts celebrating this special anniversary and the heritage of this beautiful place will be sold along with gifts that generate funds for The Nancy Blackett Trust, who celebrate their 20th anniversary this year.
More detailed information will be available nearer the day but make sure 13th May 2017 is in your diary. We will be encouraging visitors to arrive on foot, by bike or by public transport where possible but we will share advice on where to park nearer the time.