A Good Haven

Richard Heffer reminiscences of living in and around Wells.

About Richard Heffer.  Actor Richard was born on July 28, 1946 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. He is an actor, known for Women in Love (1969), Colditz (1972) and Possession (2002). Richard has lived in and around Wells for decades and always comes back to visit with the close friends he has on the North Norfolk Coast.

Richard Heffer has a long, illustrious and varied career in Film, TV, Theatre and Radio and a long association with Wells, going back to when he was a boy. Richard can remember when there was a cinema and when going to see a film in Wells was a big event. Richard remembers living in Wells when the Globe was just a little pub, and his garden backing onto the Globe, “when friends came over, I used to be able to go through a little gate in the fence to get a jug filled with beer”.  “The Crown wasn’t much bigger back then either, it had a lovely, almost romantic smell of old hotels, tobacco smoke and good old brown food”.  These were clearly the days before the smoking ban and the lively selection of food and watering holes we have now.

At one time Richard owned one of the whelk sheds on the east end of the Quay and used it as a staging post for all sorts of activities connected with the sea. Sailing, beach walks and fishing trips or just strolling through the sandy creaks collecting cockles. There is always the opportunity, if you’re careful and respectful of the tides, to go out onto the marshes for a fresh perspective on everything that gets left back on the shore. To pick up some flotsam and jetsam for the windowsill at home and to feel the sand between your toes.

In the 80’s and 90’s Richard restored a 50ft King’s Lynn shrimper, the Rob-Pete was built in King’s Lynn in 1926, it was a local boat and in 1994, she was re-launched off the slipway next to the quay, just like they used to in the days when Wells was a bustling shipping port.

Familiar with the history of Wells, Richard explained how the town was once a Haven for coastal shipping and merchant ships. Richard remembers Wells as a “bonded community” of good people. He remarks how Wells has never been just a holiday destination, it’s always been a thriving town with lots of activity. Although not living here now,  he remembers Wells fondly as a town with a lovely mix of working people, interesting individuals and visitors who love the area, and the sailing club, lifeboat crews, boat builders, fishermen, the Wells racers with their sharpie crews, the shop keepers and owners, potters, the primary school and high school, pubs and working man’s clubs, all make Wells a special place.

Richard’s memories of the Maltings are equally fond. He attended film nights with talks from the directors, ballet productions and book readings, some events were small and sometimes quite primitive but always with a creative or dramatic edge. There were often small dance troops, fit-up theatre groups, lectures and poetry readings.

Richard sees a continuity through the history of Wells and through the Maltings. He says the plans for the development of the Maltings look exciting. The new buildings will be an asset for Wells and help bring something back to the community. Richard is very much looking forward to a time when he will be able to enjoy some of the entertainment staged in the new Wells Maltings offering entertainment for the whole town in a venue that works for the whole town.