History expert was ‘fascinated’ by town

A keen historian who spent years researching and documenting many aspects of Sudbury life has died.

Allan Berry, 93, was a founder member of the Sudbury Freemen’s Trust and wrote numerous pamphlets and books on subjects including 18th and 19th-century Sudbury, the town’s political history and its common lands.

Mr Berry’s daughter, Margaret Bell, 61, said: “He was always an academic and was certainly felt by some people to be a considerable expert on the town.”

He lived and spent most of his working life in Colchester as a local government careers officer for school leavers in north-east Essex until retiring in 1984.

Mr Berry and his wife, also named Margaret, were married for more than 60 years until her death in 2010.

Mrs Bell said: “He was also instrumental in opening the Freemen’s Trust up to women 20 years ago.”

Michael Wheeler, who succeeded Mr Berry as chairman of the trust, helped Mr Berry with one of his numerous works, Suffolk Country Town (A Sudbury Miscellany).

“He was fascinated by Sudbury’s history and was a very dedicated and accurate historian,” said Mr Wheeler.

“He was an amateur historian – that was his hobby. He would help to find relevant historical matters for us to help other groups out with. He was a bit of a researcher.

“It was always a great pleasure to work with him. He was kind, friendly and helpful.”

Mr Wheeler, who lives in Friars Street, said Mr Berry retained his interest and enthusiasm for Sudbury’s history right up until his death.

He said: “Although he was infirm, his mind was sharp to the very end.

“It is very sad that we’ve lost Tony Wheeler and now Allan this year as they were two of our founder members.”

Adrian Walters, ranger and clerk for Sudbury Common Lands Charity, described Mr Berry as a “conscientious” and “admirable” man and long-serving trustee of the charity.

“Allan was wonderful – if there was any point that people weren’t sure about then he was the man,” said Mr Walters.

“Allan was extremely keen that the freemen should have all their records and rights clearly understood by one and all, which has unfortunately never been the case,” he added. “Allan had all the knowledge at his fingertips and was a fountain of knowledge for anything to do with the Freemen of Sudbury.”