Bridge photographer remembered

ONE of Ipswich's most colourful characters is remembered today after his death left a gap in a community that no bridge can span.Syd Cooper, 84, of Benacre Road, was the self-proclaimed "owner" of the Orwell Bridge after devoting 4 years of his life to recording every step of its construction.

ONE of Ipswich's most colourful characters is remembered today after his death left a gap in a community that no bridge can span.

Syd Cooper, 84, of Benacre Road, was the self-proclaimed "owner" of the Orwell Bridge after devoting 4 years of his life to recording every step of its construction.

One shot of the bridge in its initial stage turned into a book entitled Bridging the Orwell.

He began his career working for Esso at the age of 16 and spent the majority of his 42 years service as a shipping supervisor at Cliff Quay in Ipswich.


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"His work was one of the biggest loves of his life," his son Kevin said, "But when he retired he found time for all his other passions."

And there were plenty of them. "He was a aircraft fanatic and always attended all the air shows.

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"He was in the Royal Observer Core during the 2nd World War up until his retirement, and saw the development of radar to track planes.

"He flew in dozens of different types of planes, and took a balloon ride in North America, but his favourite flight was on Concorde."

Syd became interested in photography through his love of aeroplanes and was a member of more than one photographic club. He won many trophies from competitions with his holiday and aircraft shots.

Mountains were another one of his passions. He loved to walk up them and, of course, capture them on film.

Kevin recalled that most family holidays were to UK peaks and can remember walking to the summit of Snowdon as a child with his father – who was 50 at the time.

He was also a member of the International Club, which met to discuss travelling, where Syd gave talks about his travels to Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Canada and North America since retirement.

But he was most proud of his trip to Alaska, and liked to boast that he had been to the Arctic Circle as a pensioner.

In 1979 the Orwell Bridge became his biggest project. He once said: "I still think of it as my bridge.

"I spent more than 600 man-hours taking photographs and I never got bored. I reckon it was my destiny.

"It became a four-year job in the end but I had only ever intended to take one photo. I started off as an unwanted interloper and ended up as the official photographer, which lead me to me writing my book, Bridging the Orwell." Even after the book's completion he would drive or cycle over the bridge every few days to record the latest developments and travelled around East Anglia giving talks about it.

"He would have liked a piece written about him as a celebration of his life." Kevin added.

Syd Cooper died from a stroke at Ipswich hospital on January 28th leaving behind his 92-year-old brother, his son and daughter and two grandchildren.

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