Brandon Town Square
Brandon is a small town, mostly in Suffolk, but spilling over into Norfolk, the border here being marked by the ancient course of the Little Ouse. Surrounded by Forestry Commission and agricultural land it is still considered a rural town, although there is an RAF airfield on lease to RAF Station Lakenheath USAF, Lakenheath, approximately six miles away.
The parish church, St Peter, is a dominant building in the town.
Pubs include The Flintknappers and The Crown south of the Little Ouse, and the Ram Hotel north of it. The Ram is notable as the county border passes through it, and thence through the elegant Georgian Brandon House hotel opposite it.
According to Eilert Ekwall (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names) the likely origin of the name is "Brandon, usually 'hill where broom grows'", the earliest known spelling being in the 11th century when the town, gradually expanding up and along the rising ground of the river valley, was called Bromdun.
From prehistoric times the area was mined for flint as can be seen at Grimes Graves, a popular Brandon tourist destination. Much more recently, the town was a major centre for the production of gunflints.
On 14 May 1789, the town suffered a Great Fire, a report of which can be found at the Brandon Heritage Centre. While all the young men were away at a fair day in nearby Thetford, a fire caused by a lightning strike set fire to the surgeon's house which quickly spread to the surrounding properties. Eleven houses were damaged and 8 of them were completely destroyed. The hardest hit was Francis Diggon, the saddler, who lost all of his property and possessions, costing a total of 381 pounds, 2 shillings.
Brandon’s first cinema was brought to the town by Stanley Lingwood toward the end of 1917. Stanley had just been pensioned out of the Army due receiving a very severe hand wound at The Somme and his father, a wealthy furrier in the town named Palmer Lingwood, died that same time. He purchased the cinema from Shropshire and erected it between the family home, Avenue House, and the Church Institute, along Victoria Avenue. It was a wooden building and he named the cinema 'Electric Palace', and it stayed in his possession until December 1933 when he sold it to a King's Lynn businessman named Ben Culey, who had a cinema in neighbouring Thetford. Six months after Ben purchased the cinema it burnt to the ground in a mysterious fire and in February 1935 he opened another cinema on the site of the burned down one, which he named 'AVENUE'.
This new cinema was state of the art with the very latest projector, sound and acoustics, and the building proved very popular during the Second World War. The building still stands on the site today, having been a bingo hall recently, although it is currently empty and becoming derelict.
The town's population was recorded as 9,636 in the 2011 UK Census. Brandon has three schools; two primary, and one High School.
On the town's doorstep is the hugely popular High Lodge Thetford Forest tourist attraction that draws in many cyclists and day trip families. You will also find the wonderful and picturesque Brandon Country Park just on the outskirts of the town.
Brandon has a small market every Thursday and Saturday with many little shops and cafes in the town.
In addition to the large number of independent shops such as greengrocers, bakeries and florists, Brandon is now also home to a number of big named retail corporations including Tesco, Aldi and Boots.
Brandon's population has steadily increased since the Second World War due to immigration. After the war there was an influx of servicemen from Poland who settled in the town and also in nearby Weeting, Norfolk. The Cold War saw many American servicemen and their families billeted in and around the town. The Greater London Council oversaw the building of a large Council estate off Thetford Road and Bury Road in the 1970s and many London families were relocated to Brandon during that time.
Following the relaxation of national borders within the European Community there has been an influx of migrant workers from countries such as Portugal, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
The Brandon Carnival takes place on the first Sunday in June where Market Hill comes alive with stalls and displays whilst the crowds gather to watch the parade make its way through town.
- Junior football:: The Brandon Lads and Lasses AFC
- Lawn bowls: Brandon Town Bowling Club
The leisure centre, run by Anglia Community Leisure, also offers badminton, squash, tennis, an indoor 5-a-side hall and an outdoor 6-a-side pitch.
- Running: Brandon Fern Hoppers. The Fern Hoppers also organise the Wibbly Wobbly Log Jog running event held in Thetford Forest.
Brandon is situated on the A1065 Mildenhall to Fakenham road. It often suffers severe congestion due to large amounts of commuter traffic, holiday traffic travelling to the Norfolk Coast and HGVs. Several bus routes pass through the town as well.
Regular bus services operate from Brandon to the neighbouring towns of Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall and Thetford. There are also infrequent services (at school and shopping times) to Downham Market, King's Lynn and Norwich.
- Brandon Suffolk
- Brandon Country Park
- The Brandon Carnival
- Brandon during the Second World War
- Brandon House Hotel, Restaurant & Bar
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