William Chapman's grocery shop in the Market Square at the corner of Mundays Lane 1879. It was later destroyed in the air raid in October 1942.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Orford and the surrounding villages became more and more dependent on the owners of the Sudbourne Estate, the principal landowners and employers in the area. A pottery and brickworks were established in both Iken and Chillesford. By 1900 the population of Orford had grown to over 1200 – almost twice that of today.
The distance from the nearest market towns and railway station meant that the area had to be self-sufficient. and there were many shops and businesses until the Second World War. The agricultural and general depression of the 1920s and 1930s saw the break-up of the Sudbourne Estate. The Hall was demolished in 1951 after occupation by the military during WWII, when the villages of Sudbourne and Iken were evacuated to make way for a Battle Training Area.
The first Orford Ness lighthouses, two timber towers, known as the ‘High’ and ‘Low’ lights, were established in 1637. Following constant coastal erosion they were replaced by brick towers in 1720, and in 1792 the present tower, the High light, was built much further from the sea. The Low light was abandoned to the sea in 1887. The current lighthouse itself is now in imminent danger of being washed away.
Two World Wars and the Cold War of the twentieth century provided alternative sources of employment, on Orford Ness . Starting with a WWI airfield in 1915, it continued with the development of radar in the 1930s, the activities of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) in the 1950s and 1960s, and the American ‘Cobra Mist’ radar project from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. It is now owned by the National Trust although the former Cobra Mist building is still used for the transmission of the BBC World Service.
Leisure and tourism are now an important focus of the economic activity of Orford.
Orford Ness - black tower and lighthouse