History of Woodbridge Art Club
Woodbridge Art Club was formed in 1968. The Club was formed because local education classes were under threat. John Roberts was teaching such classes and suggested that his students got together as a group to paint. Initially 40 members met in the assembly rooms above the ballroom of the Crown Hotel. For the first few years the exhibitions had to be held hung on the station railings, except in bad weather. They were held on August weekends and were very popular.
The Club's present premises are owed to Mrs Jean Gardner who bought the Tide Mill and surrounding buildings at auction and in 1973 offered the single story attachment to the Club on a 28 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The work to restore the building was done by members and friends. Alfred Leech and John Lloyd were the mainstay of the renovation of the granary, both being in the building trade. A small grant was obtained from the local council but most of the materials needed were bought with the proceeds of the Club's fundraising efforts. The new premises were opened by Mrs Gardner in 1976. It is now owned by the council and leased to the Club. That is how Woodbridge Art Club came to be one of the few art clubs to have their own premises (and in such a marvellous position).
Our wonderful harbour-side position proved to be a disadvantage in 2013 when a tidal surge created widespread floods on the east coast. The flood struck around midnight on 5/6 December 2013 and our clubhouse, which is located on the non-protected side of the flood defence barrier, was badly flooded.
Water came through the doors and up through the drains and the entire building was flooded to a depth of 1.5 feet. There was a lot of damage and we lost many books, art materials and equipment, kitchenware and electrical items. The damage was such that even the plaster had to be stripped off the walls, and it took 4 months for the building to dry out sufficiently for the renovation to start.
We weren't able to put on the exhibition that summer until August but we stayed open then until the end of November, and sold lots of paintings and pots. It took quite some time though to recover from being shut most of the summer as people didn't know whether or not we were still there. Bryan King was chairman at the time and he and the committee had to spend a great deal of time sorting out the chaos and managing the work. We hope now that we are less vulnerable to future flooding, and we took the opportunity to make some improvements. We are grateful to Suffolk Coastal Council for a grant towards the new flood gate protecting the front door.