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KING’S LYNN: Fishing community mourns death of Pat

Official opening of the new Research Centre True's Yard 
front Dr Paul Richards, Chairman of the Trustees and museum founder Pat Midgley

Official opening of the new Research Centre True's Yard front Dr Paul Richards, Chairman of the Trustees and museum founder Pat Midgley

Lynn historian Dr Paul Richards has paid a glowing tribute to True’s Yard Museum founder Pat Midgley, who died on Saturday.

He said Mrs Midgley, 81, who was awarded the MBE in 1996 for her work celebrating Lynn’s fisherfolk and preserving True’s Yard, helped to save the heritage of the town’s North End.

Dr Richards, chairman of the North End Trust, said: “One of Pat’s great achievements was bringing together and starting this fantastic archive of photographs, documents and books.

“It was her determination and vision about communities, education and research which kept things moving forward... She was an inspiration to me and many other people.”

Mrs Midgley formed a group which saved the Victorian smokehouse and two Georgian cottages at the heart of the museum complex. It has been added to over the years by acquiring neighbouring buildings.

Now a tourist destination, True’s Yard attracted 12,500 visitors last year. It is also an education centre and is used by 20-plus schools locally.

Originally from Oxfordshire, Mrs Midgley moved to this area with her husband and family in 1965 when he was working for former furniture makers Beresford and Hicks.

Her husband died in 1976 and two years later she moved from her large home in Gaywood to the newly-restored Pilot Street development in Lynn.

At that time, she was researching and recording the Lynn fishermen’s ganseys (jumpers), which involved talking to people and families living in the town’s North End fishing community and getting to know them well.

Mrs Midgley then started giving talks on Lynn’s fishing quarter and compiling photographs and information, which culminated in the writing and publishing of her book, The Northenders - a disappeared community, in 1987.

She was a teacher of the handicapped at the former Alderman Jackson School in Marsh Lane, Gaywood, for many years, and also taught children under five with special educational needs at her home.

Mrs Midgley’s son Brian MacMillan, a merchant seaman, died in 1996 at the age of 42. She leaves married daughters, Alison and Tess.

Her funeral service will be held at St Nicholas Chapel in Lynn next Friday at 3.30pm, followed by a celebration of her life at True’s Yard Museum.

 

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