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Waterfront window museum tells the story of Cliff Quay

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:10 30 April 2017

From Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive

From Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive


A new display window on Ipswich Waterfront has been created to tell the story of the growth of Cliff Quay and the modern Ipswich port.

The Ipswich Maritime Trust - Window Wizards - who have completed the new window museum display at Albion Quay. The Ipswich Maritime Trust - Window Wizards - who have completed the new window museum display at Albion Quay.

The window, entitled From Pleasure Beach to Modern Port, Albion Quay, details how Cliff Quay was built in phases from the 1920s and 1930s onwards.

Stuart Grimwade, of Ipswich Maritime Trust (IMT), said the building of Cliff Quay had been another massive investment for the town and port.

He said: “After World War I the Victorian Wet Dock had become too small to accommodate the 20th Century’s larger ships and the bold decision was taken to build a brand new quay in the tidal river.

from the Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive from the Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive

“Cliff Quay was built in stages to become the modern facility seen in the 2016 photograph.

“The quay now handles a wide range of bulk cargo from all parts of the world, following Ipswich’s long tradition of continuous international trading since 7th Century.

“Today the Port of Ipswich handles almost three million tonnes of cargo each year and can celebrate its new status as the UK’s largest export port for agricultural products.”

Cliff Quay, Ipswich - Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive Cliff Quay, Ipswich - Ipswich Maritime Trust photo archive

The port has been the focus of many export and import trades over the decades.

At one time, malting barley was exported from Ipswich to make Budweiser beer, and Budweiser beer came in through the port.

Exports included maize for France, spring beans to Egypt, malting barley to Germany, rice and soya meal to Guyana, milling wheat to Ireland, oil seed rape to Denmark and biscuit wheat to Spain.

Fertilizers and animal feed products went through the port in both directions too.

This latest window museum display features samples of some of the cargos that have come through the port, at different times and there is a model of today’s Cliff Quay made by trust member Ben Bendall.

It also tells the story of John Cobbold’s construction of prefabricated wooden pubs to be shipped to remote locations, by barge.

Mr Grimwade added: “Ipswich has been an international trading port since the 7th Century and we found that Ipswich is still doing trade with the same ports that it traded with 600 and in some cases almost 1,000 years ago – a remarkable continuity of international trade showing just how much Ipswich is connected with the rest of the world by sea.”

Mr Grimwade and Des Pawson, directors of the trust, have been heavily involved in the window museum project.

It features some of Mr Grimwade’s own photos, now in the trust archives.

Mr Pawson said: “The IMT are interested in all aspects of our local maritime heritage. In the past we have featured in our window museum, amongst other things, barges, shipping over the ages, leisure on the Orwell, shipbuilding, modern boat building as well as the business associated with the historic waterfront and the Wet Dock and how it was built, and the trade that went on within it.

“For our 15th display, we thought it was worth looking at the Port outside of the Wet Dock.

“When we started to explore the history of the down-river development of the Port of Ipswich we realised that there was a lot to tell, and so we decided to concentrate on the development on the eastern shore of the river, where Cliff Quay was gradually built in stages through the last century to become, today, the centre of the UK’s largest export port for agricultural products.

“The display celebrates this with samples of a huge array of products, and photographs of its growth from the days when it was a rural pleasure beach on the edge of the town.

“The main focus of the exhibition is a splendid model of Cliff Quay as it is today made by Peter Bendall and Colin Waters, together with a wonderful model of the Arklow Wave, the green hulled Arklow Shipping vessels being regular visitors to Cliff Quay for many years.

“Stuart has unearthed some remarkable old Ipswich Dock Commission photographs of the Quay’s construction, including the building of the Cliff Quay power station. 10,000 bricks were laid each day to create this famous landmark which was a major contributor the Country’s post-war power needs.

“The display also includes some of Stuart’s own large colour images taken in the early 1960s.”

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