Syzewell Gap archive 

down memory lane......

Current band members Martin, Annie, Mike and Jude has been playing together since 1982 but there have been a few changes since then.  We can't remember if all this information is correct but If you have any more detail or old photos please get in touch. info@syzewellgap.co.uk 

Syzewell Gap formed and started as the resident band for the Everyman Folk Club in Leiston during 1974 .  The name Syzewell Gap was taken from a character in a locally produced mumming play which was first performed in 1972.  This story came from an archive collection of local folk history telling of smugglers who escaped the revenue officer at Sizewell beach by taking a path known as "Syzewell Gap".  Others have suggested that there was a gap left between the point reached by Lowestoft customs men as they came south and Felixstowe men going north.  This story suggests that there was a gap between their daily rides which the smugglers exploited

The original members were Bill Horne, Patrick Purvis, Laurie Rausham (Pooch), Spooner McCloghlan, Steve Kennard, Graham Walker and Phil O'Dwyer.  The band played mainly for folk club events with regular sessions at the "Potty Bar" (White Hart) in Aldeburgh.  As time went on they played for dances in village halls all over the Suffolk coastal area. None of the original members remain in the band now.  The first ever public dance away from the Everyman Club was at Waldringfield village hall.

Syzewell Gap Mummers in the early 80's

 

There were close links with Magic Lantern (based in Leiston for a while) and Tim and Angela Laycock joined Syzewell Gap in 1978.  At this time Sue Ward played melodeon with Pete Ward calling dances. Sue was replaced by Jude Horne in 1980 so she is now the longest serving band member. Jude and Bill stopped running the Everyman club at about this time to concentrate on playing with the band.

Martin and Annie Clark moved to Aldeburgh in 1980. Prior to this Martin knew Tim through running the London Folk Festival and Bedford College Folk Club and after meeting with Syzewell Gap at the Black Hut in Bawdsey (a funding raising event for a flushing indoor toilet) they joined the band in January 1981. 

 

For several years the line up consisted of:

  • Bill Horne - banjo, 12 string guitar, bass drum and hi hat
  • Tim Laycock - duet concertina

  • Angela Laycock - recorders, whistles and harmonium

  • Jude Horne - melodeons

  • Annie Clark - oboe, recorders and hammer dulcimer (later saxophones)

  • Martin Clark - guitar, bouzouki and bass pedals (later bass guitar)

  • Ginny and Jo - both played cello with us during this period

 

The band at Snape 1988

Syzewell Gap at the Badingham White Horse

 

Mike Fordham (anglo concertina) joined in 1982 when Tim and Angela moved back to Dorset and we had a drummer called Roger Pitcher who came from a rock and blues background with us for a year or so. Roger left and Colin Jacobs from Felixstowe joined as our drummer for what was to be a very busy and productive period until about 1990. We played festivals all over the country and produced our first album Up the Deben - some people noticed all the pictures on the cover were actually taken on the river  Alde!

"Broadside" was recorded soon after - this was a tape of songs and tunes from the Norfolk Broads and was in collaboration with the Kipper Family, Tim Laycock and John Ward.  One side of the tape was recorded live at Oulton Broad and the other side in the studio at Rumburgh.

During this time Sue Miles and Carol Dolan covered for Annie whist she was out of action for a while and Dick Miles took over the drummers stool when Colin "retired" from active service.

Bill Johnson has recovered some old VHS recordings made at this time at Felixstowe Folk Weekend by Graham Potter.

Felixstowe Festival in 1987

Felixstowe Festival in 1988

 

Shortly after this Bill moved to Finland and the band became a 4 piece with Martin switching to play more keyboards and Mike playing percussion as well as concertina.  This is still the formation today.

 

The band with caller Phil Smith 1992

At this time we produced Foot in the Water which was quite experimental for us.  Quite a lot was recorded in Martin and Annie's sitting room and the album was completed at the Tapecraft Studio in Rumburgh.

Syzewell Gap members Martin, Annie and Jude were founder members of the Nightwatch Theatre Company along with local writer Beverly Barnett and director Sue Benbow.  The company produced two very successful touring shows - the first was called "Stolen Voice" and was based on local folk stories centered around smuggling on the East Coast.  the second play "Dare to be Daniel" was based on the Vicar of Stiffkey - a Norfolk rector with and interesting outlook on life. 
Over the next few years guitarists John Taylor and Garry Morling extended the band and Trevor Bennett added trombone at some events and on the Mind the Gap CD.
The band held a celebration party in 2004 to celebrate 30 years since Syzewell Gap formed in 1974.  Some original members were able to get there and join in with the music. 

This photo shows a line up of Patrick Purves (melodeon) , Laurie Rausham (guitar) and caller Will Hall  along with Bridget Cousins (fiddle), Trevor Bennett (trombone), Martin and Mike.

Syzewell Gap has a long association with two local morris dancing sides.  Barley Brigg and Danegeld. Jude has played music with Danegeld and a French tour provided some of the tunes the band uses for dancing today. The band also went on tour with Barley Brigg to Brittany and the west coast of Ireland.  

Mike, Annie and Martin all have danced with North West Clog Morris side Barley Brigg - Mike has since retired but still step dances if you can persuade him.  Before moving to Suffolk Mike was a regular with Chingford Morris.

Mind the Gap was the first CD the band produced in 2001.  This was mainly rerecorded at The Cottage and was an interesting mix of modern and traditional instruments and tunes.  

Kim Peskett joined Martin, Annie, Jude and Mike at about this time and, as the fifth member and replaced "Bones" as our sound engineer.  Kim also sings and performs in concerts.

     

Over the years since the Nightwatch Theatre days, Syzewell Gap and friends have produced a number of traveling shows with music, songs, stories, shadow puppets, mumming plays and sketches.  These have often been over the winter months and most performances have been mainly in village halls around Suffolk.  

The band collaborated with Bridget Cousins and the Halesworth Community Choir  on two major productions - the Ballads of Blything Hundred and Singing the River.  More recently, in 2016, this has been with Janet Koralambe the Halesworth Community Choir and Crossing the Border for "Songs of the Sea" 

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