Bob Hart

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Bob Hart: was born in 1892 at Sotherton, Suffolk, a village near Halesworth, but soon moved a few miles coast-ward to Reydon near Southwold.  He came from a farming family - his grandfather was a farm manager to the Earl of Stradbrook, his father a farm worker.  His mother died when he was ten and Bob lived much of the time then with his grandparents.

He left school at Michaelmas 1905, the time of year when jobs became open on farms, but he didn’t stay a farm worker for long.  An argument with his boss caused him to run away to sea, so his career as a fisherman came about as a reaction against the injustice he encountered on the farm.  Such a career move was not uncommon in the area.  Life on board ship gave the worker a small world which, if he was lucky, could be comradely; the presence of a kindly skipper could create a family atmosphere in place of the usual hat-doffing servant-master relationship of the farm worker to his boss.

In 1914 he joined the army, went to France, and in 1916 had half his jaw blown away by shrapnel - he spent the rest of the war in hospital.  During his convalescence he stayed with his brother in Snape, met the girl he was to marry, and remained there the rest of his life doing various jobs, finally ending up working in Snape maltings, along with many other singers in the area, and stayed there for 40 years.

After retirement, tragedy struck, and Bob lost his wife and two sons in the course of three years: “I never really took singing seriously until after I retired.  I used to sing in the old pubs, but after I lost the wife and the boys, rather than mope I knew I’d got to do something, so I kept with the crowd and started singing.  I don’t know how I should ‘a got through these last years if I hadn’t a-took up singing.”

--RodStradling 17:39, 26 March 2007 (BST)