Leiston

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Coordinates: 52°12′22″N 1°34′44″E / 52.206°N 1.579°E / 52.206; 1.579

Leiston is a town in Suffolk, England. It is situated near Saxmundham and Aldeburgh, about 2½ miles from the North Sea coast and is 90 miles (140 km) northeast from London.

Leiston Abbey lies northwest of the current town; its picturesque ruins are a popular tourist stop.

Leiston thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a manufacturing town dominated by Richard Garrett & Sons, owners of the "Leiston Works". This firm made steam tractors and a huge variety of cast and machined metal products, including munitions during both world wars. The works are closed now and there is a large museum, the Long Shop Museum (http://gazeteer.interdart.co.uk/east/visit/LSMUSE.htm ), showing the history, vehicles and products of the works.

During World War II, RAF Leiston, a mile northwest of the town in the neighbouring village of Theberton, sent fighter squadrons of the American 357th Fighter Group to fight the Luftwaffe. Famous American test pilot and fighter ace General Chuck Yeager (who, later, first broke the sound barrier) flew out of RAF Leiston. The Friends of Leiston Airfield hold a memorial service and flying display at the end of May each year, with veterans and their families attending.

Since the 1960s Leiston became famous outside the UK as the home of the Summerhill School, founded by A.S. Neill in the 1920s, which was the first major "free school" - referring to freedom in education. Children are not required to attend classes and discipline is given by student self-government meetings. Summerhill has inspired a large "free school" movement and, more recently, "democratic schools" in several countries. The school occupies the former mansion of Richard Garrett, owner of the Leiston Works.

Leiston also has its own primary, middle and high schools. Leiston Primary School caters for pupils aged 5 to 9 and is a community school. The school also provides a nursery which currently has 52 places.

Leiston Middle School caters for pupils aged 9 to 13 and is a mixed comprehensive school. The head of school at the school is currently Mr N Challis. Pupils join the school from schools at Leiston, Coldfair Green, Aldeburgh, Middleton and Yoxford. The middle school has recently undergone major building work which has created a new sports hall and four new classrooms.

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