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Long Shop Museum
Leiston shown within Suffolk
|Population||6,240 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||Suffolk Coastal|
Leiston is a town in eastern Suffolk, England. It is situated near Saxmundham and Aldeburgh, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from the North Sea coast and is 21 miles (34 km) northeast of Ipswich and 90 miles (140 km) northeast from London. The town had a population of 6,240 at the 2001 Census.
Leiston thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a manufacturing town dominated by Richard Garrett & Sons, owners of the "Leiston Works". This firm made steam tractors and a huge variety of cast and machined metal products, including munitions during both world wars. The works closed in 1981 and the site was reused as a mixture of housing, flats and industrial uses. The Long Shop Museum, showing the history, vehicles and products of the works, remains as a heritage tourist attraction.
During World War II, RAF Leiston, 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of the town in the neighbouring village of Theberton, sent fighter squadrons of the American 357th Fighter Group to fight the Luftwaffe. Famous American test pilot and fighter ace General Chuck Yeager (who, later, first broke the sound barrier) flew out of RAF Leiston. The Friends of Leiston Airfield hold a memorial service and flying display at the end of May each year, with veterans and their families attending.
Since the 1960s Leiston became famous outside the UK as the home of the Summerhill School, founded by A.S. Neill in the 1920s, which was the first major "free school" - referring to freedom in education. Children are not required to attend classes and discipline is given by pupil self-government meetings. Summerhill has inspired a large "free school" movement and, more recently, "democratic schools" in several countries. The school occupies the former mansion of Richard Garrett, owner of the Leiston Works.
Economy, culture and community
Since the closure of Garrett's, the town's economy has been dominated by the two nuclear power stations on the coast at Sizewell: the now decommissioned Magnox reactor of Sizewell A and the more modern Pressurised Water Reactor of Sizewell B. A number of smaller companies operate from industrial areas within the town.
Leiston's High Street serves as the business and market hub of the surrounding agricultural district. The town's facilities include a post office, library, banks, pubs and a range of shops and other services.
"Leiston Film Theatre", a half-timbered building with street front shops, is the oldest purpose-built cinema in Suffolk. The theatre is owned and run by Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council and supported by the Leiston Film Theatre Support Club which has raised money for stage refurbishment and enabled the theatre to install the latest digital 3D projection system.
Sport and leisure
Leiston also has a leisure centre, a skatepark and several parks.
A railway branch spur from the Great Eastern Line, known as the Aldeburgh Branch Line, went from Saxmundham to Aldeburgh, with intermediate stations at Leiston and Thorpeness. On 12 September 1966 British Rail withdrew all passenger services to Leiston and beyond; however, the line to Leiston remains active, but only for the purpose of removing nuclear materials from Sizewell power station - which is expected to cease entirely by 2012.
Alde Valley School is an 11-18 comprehensive school. The school was formerly known as Leiston High School, changing its name in September 2012 following a reorganisation of schools in Suffolk. This saw the closure of Leiston Middle School and the school convert from a 13 to 18 school to take pupils from age 11. A sixth form centre attached to the school operates in the centre of Leiston on Waterloo Avenue.
In 2001 the school became a Specialist Technology College, and in following years it was named as one of the most improved schools in England. It is the lead school in the Schools Energy Network based at the Orbis Centre in Lowestoft and has strong links with Sizewell nuclear power stations.
- 2001 census population data - Leiston ward Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
- Leiston Abbey, English Heritage. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
- Leiston Primary School profile, Suffolk County Council. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
- Potter.T (2012) Leiston: Pupils take first lessons in new-look high school, East Anglian Daily Times, 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
- Waveney students become energy ambassadors, Eastern Daily Press, 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
- Green.D (2007) School benefits from station link-up, East Anglian Daily Times, 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
- The Leiston Long Shop Museum
- Suffolk's oldest cinema
- Leiston Abbey
- Leiston Film Theatre Support Club