Southwold Beach huts basking in the summer sunsine. As the days get longer now it can often be a relaxing experience exploring Souhwold or Walberswick beach in the early evening (and possibly renting a Beach Hut to fully explore this potential!).

The Wenhaston Millions

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The Wenhaston Millions

The Wenhaston Millions by Keith Johnceline

On 2nd February 1934, the Daily Mail announced that the great ‘Wenhaston Millions’ bubble had burst. What was all this about? It was a fraud perpetrated by a ‘Major Crane’ on a few unsuspecting and, one must say, gullible Suffolk gentlemen.

It all started some months before when this Major Crane had told a man from London, together with one from Blythburgh and two brothers from Wenhaston, about a mortgage he had obtained from one of the London joint stock banks for £5000. He claimed that one of his cheques had been refused payment by the bank, although there had been plenty of funds in his account. He had sued the bank, but they had tried to settle the case out of court for a few hundred pounds. Realising that he could claim more, Major Crane pursued them asking for thousands of pounds compensation. He claimed that the bank had taken fright and had obtained backing from the Bank of England, no less.

It seems unbelievable, but Major Crane persuaded the four men that the Government was now taking interest in that they had crossed swords with the joint stock bank and therefore they were backing the major! He produced documents to support his claims – they were all forged. He then advised our locals that it was now in the hands of the High Court and that the modest thousands he had originally claimed for damages had run, including interest, into millions. The Official Secrets Act was quoted as being the reason that all this sorry tale had not been made public and they were sworn to abide by this Act. He would telephone the Bank of England and pretend to speak to Mr Hahon, the Chief Cashier. He also claimed to be in touch with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Sankey. Each participant was asked for £5000 so that he could continue the case, which the noble four cheerfully paid up, as they were promised returns totalling over a million pounds each.

Major Crane at last announced that Lord Sankey had agreed damages of one hundred million pounds, and the major would receive forty–five million as his share of the loot. Unfortunately, however, the amount had been held up, and Crane produced for the local eyes to see a document seemingly signed by King George V (!) addressed to Major Crane.

It all fell apart when Major Crane expressed his wish to marry a Mrs Duke at Southwold. She was already married but our major stated that he could obtain a special licence dissolving the marriage. The vicar told the major he was suspicious of the document (forged with Lord Merrivale’s signature) and Major Crane disappeared.

Investigations into his activities brought the whole sorry tale to light. It had all been a massive hoax. In the Daily Mail of 9th February it was announced that Major Crane was in fact David Percy Caprice. He was a married man with three children and he had tried to fake his suicide by leaving his clothes on the beach at Newhaven. Documents collected by the police included a passbook showing a balance of four hundred million pounds!

The major’s birthday was on 11th February and on that day his father died from heart failure. His mother pleaded in the paper for her son to give himself up. On 19th June he was arrested at Hackney selling vegetables. At the end of his trial in November 1934 he was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to four years. However, he continued to maintain that he was worth millions, but not for our unfortunate local friends.

Sources:
Daily Mail, 2 to 11 February, 28 June, and 12 July 1934.
The People, 11 November 1934.

Keith Johnceline, Wenhaston, March 2000.
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Some Favourite Websites For July 2018:

Southwold Beach Hut Owners AssociationThe online home of the owners of Southwold's iconic beach huts

On this website are details of the Southwold Beach Hut Owners Association group as well as the latest news and information for prospective, new and existing members, owning a tiny slice of our wonderful Suffolk coastline.

23 North ParadeLarge sea-front house at Southwold with private parking for up to four cars

With six bedrooms this traditional family house sleeps up to twelve plus a cot. Parking for four cars. Panoramic sea views from the front of the house, including from the first floor sitting room. Back garden with barbecue. WiFi. Up to two dogs accepted for extra charge.

Lamorna CottageAffordable three-bedroomed self-catering cottage in Reydon near Southwold

An end-terrace cottage offering accommodation for up to five in quiet residential street. Garden plus shed for cycles. Close to village shops. 15 minutes walk to the sea. Open fire in Living Room. Radio, board games, puzzles and books but no TV. Sorry, no pets.

Bloom'sComfortable Bed and Breakfast accommodation close to Southwold

B&B accommodation just for one or two, in modern farmhouse on working farm close to Southwold. WiFi. Kingsize bed in room. Exclusive use of private adjacent spacious bathroom with jacuzzi bath. Cycle Route 31 passes farm drive. Sorry, no children or pets accepted.

Hetty’s Little Copy ShopA wide range of printing services - including 3D - plus passport photos and more

The Little Copy Shop is in Thoroughfare, Halesworth, and offers all sorts of useful services involving printing, laminating, scanning, binding and copying plus various photographic services including passport photos.