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No 53 - 'The Sail Loft'

The building, until recently referred to as 'The Dutch Barn' was constructed in approximately 1840 as a fishing net shed and later in the century as a sail loft specialising in the fabrication of sails for the wherries which were built in the nearby workshops such as the one documented at this link. then as a manufacturing facility for cod-liver oil, and as part of the salt works. An OS map of 1874 suggests that building originally had a large rear extension.(Source: English Heritage). Sail-making evidently continued into the 1920s and '30s in a separate out-house located in what is now the car park, although the main building had by then been converted to residential accommodation.

For most of its existence the freeholder has been Southwold Corporation and, from 1974 to c 2002 Southwold Town Council.

c1861 - 1874
William & Samuel Powditch - Coastal traders and cargo ship owners, are believed to have used the building to store their equipment at about this time.

Note: Brothers William (b 1830) and Samuel Powditch (b 1824) are from Brancaster in North Norfolk and moved to Southwold in the early 1860s. Both have cargo boats of their own and, for a time, are business partners:

William, who is described as a 'mariner', owns the vessel 'The Good Intent' and seems to specialise in transporting and dealing in coal. By 1868, though, Kelly's and White's Directories describe him as an 'old clothes' dealer living at an unspecified house in Queen Street with his wife, Maria (nee Lord). However, it is likely that second-hand clothing is a sideline, as he continues his involvement in coastal trading until the 1880s.

His brother Samuel, a 'Master Mariner', owns at least four ships over the course of his career. However, he has suffered three serious personal setbacks. The first was the death in childbirth of his wife, Isabella Brightmer and of their newborn son in 1853, just a year after their marriage. The second is his involvement in a serious accident at the recently developed Royal Victoria Docks in London which disables him and brings his seagoing career to an end. The third tragedy is the loss of his ship, 'The Mariner's Hope' in 1869. Now captained by his brother, William, it is in collision with the schooner 'Time' and sinks off the coast of South Shields. William and his two crew are rescued by the crew of 'Time'.

After this misfortune, the people of Southwold organise a collection for Samuel and raise £111 - a generous gesture, particularly considering that he and his second wife, Eliza, have been Southwold residents for less than nine years. Samuel, Eliza and their six daughters set up home at No 8 High Street where, by 1879, they are running a confectionery business (K1879).

William, meanwhile continues to captain his own ship, 'The Good Intent' until the early 1880s, when he and his wife Maria retire to run the Sole Bay Inn at No 7 East Green.

We are grateful to Carol Stone, great-great granddaughter of William Powditch, for sharing her family research with us. For a fuller account of the Powditch story, click here.


c 1913
Frederic Blagden Malim - leases the building as a holiday home for his family. Frederic is Headmaster of Haileybury College in Hertfordshire.


Frederic Blagden Malim - continues to use the building as a family holiday residence. This year he becomes Master of Wellington College, Berkshire.. (Source: Lavinia Greenwood, nee Malim, Frederic's daughter who lived in British Columbia until her death in 2021. To read her memories of chidhood holidays in Ferry Road during the 1920s and 30s, click here.)


Frederic Blagden Malim - family holiday home.

HM Forces
requisition the building for the manufacture of parachutes and camouflage netting. The workforce is almost entirely female.The two-storey height of the interior at that time makes it particularly suited to this work .

Major Reginald Lovett Stamford Raffles, with his wife and three daughters, leases the building from Southwold Corporation. The family have moved from West Suffolk and have been living at No 27 Field Stile Road while the building was converted into a restaurant with a family flat above it. Major Raffles' Dutch wife, Johanna (nee Trost) is to run the restaurant and names it 'The Dutch Barn'.

Note: Major Raffles is the great grandson of Rev Thomas Raffles, who had inherited the fortune of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, the founder in 1819 of the City of Singapore. Although only indirectly descended from Sir Stamford, the Rev became his heir because all his sons had predeceased him.


Johanna Raffles - trading as 'The Dutch Barn' Restaurant.

The building is extensively damaged by a fire, resulting from a fault in the construction of a chimney. The family escape with their lives and temporarily move to 'The Red Barn', one of two adjacent bungalows owned by Johanna. While the building is being repaired and refurbished, the restaurant relocates to No 81a High Street (part of Buckenham House.)

Scarcely have the Raffles family and the restaurant reoccupied the building than the Dutch Barn is once again badly damaged, this time by the great tidal flood which affected much of the East Coast this January. Once again the building requires extensive repair. This time the restaurant relocates to Harbour House at the estuary end of Ferry Road, while the family temporarily move into a cottage in Frostenden and later to a house in Pier Avenue, Southwold. The restaurant is not able to move back into The Dutch Barn until much later this year. The return is delayed not only by the substantial structural work required but by the fact that the beach is cordoned off for a while as several WWII mines have been discovered on the beach, brought in by the exceptional storm suurge.

To read a first-hand account of the night of the flood by the Raffles' middle daughter, Sylvia, click here.

Johanna Raffles - trading as 'The Dutch Barn' Restaurant. Grietje Stuij a Dutch restaurant manager, has been employed to run the restaurant and helps to develop its growing reputation while attracting a celebrity clientele. The three Raffles daughters, Angie, Sylvia and Olivia, regularly help out with the service.


The Raffles' middle daughter, Sylvia, opens a bistro-style restaurant 'Ticky's Barn', in the now vacant flat above her mother's main restaurant. It is open in the evenings only and provides a more informal setting with live guitar music.

The business is sold to Nicholas Wilton, a noted South African chef who quickly builds up a fashionable reputation for The Dutch Barn. It becomes well known for its champagne parties and wedding receptions.

Robert Wade and his wife take over the lease and continue to develop the establishment's fashionable reputation.

Winston & Mary Colloby - 'The Dutch Barn' is now run as a traditional English fish restaurant

Winston & Mary Colloby - 'The Dutch Barn' restaurant.

Winston & Mary Colloby purchase the freehold from Southwold Town Council.


Ms Ed Darragh -This Irish-born singer-songwriter purchases the building and changes its name to 'Casa Mia'. It is run as an Italian-style piano and cocktail bar.

The Casa Mia closes and stands empty.

Premises bought by Christopher Buck with the aim of redeveloping the site. By 2014, planning permission has still not been granted and the premises remain derelict.

The building is extensively redeveloped by a consortium once again as a restaurant called 'The Sail Loft', reflecting one of its early uses.

Acknowledgments to Sylvia Barsby (nee Raffles) for detailed information about her parents' tenure of the building. Also to Emily Whalley of Ferry Road and to English Heritage for some of the names and dates on this page, and to Adnams PLC for permission to reproduce extracts from the letter written by Major Raffles from The Swan Hotel where the family were offered refuge after the flood.


Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
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BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

The building, derelict in 2014

Younger members of the Malim family who occupied the Dutch Barn as a summer residence from 1913 to 1940

To enlarge the picture and read Lavinia Malim's memories of summer holidays between the Wars, click the picture.

The "Dutch Barn"
reproduced from a 1951 postcard in the collection of the late Robert Palmer by kind permission of Margaret Palmer. Note: the image itself may date from before the 1950 fire.

Click the picture to enlarge

Postcard image of the Interior of The Dutch Barn, probably during the 1950s, featuring its two chefs.
Photo courtesy of Hilary Huckstep.

Click image to enlarge

From the Halesworth Times, November 1st, 1950.
With thanks to Jim Blythe for providing the cutting.
To read the complete story, click the image.

After the 1953 floods. Pebbles from the beach banked up against the front wall.
Southwold Museum P 2177

Click picture to enlarge

"We are practically ruined..."

Read Major Raffles personal reaction to the loss of the restaurant and his daughter, Sylvia's, memories of the night of the storm.

Click the image