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New road opened in Ipswich named after ‘forgotten’ Czech poet

PUBLISHED: 16:10 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:42 10 September 2020

Czech ambassador Libor Secka, Ipswich Deputy Mayor Jane Riley, and councillor Martin Cook at the naming of Ivan Blatny Close on the Ribbans Park development in Ipswich. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Czech ambassador Libor Secka, Ipswich Deputy Mayor Jane Riley, and councillor Martin Cook at the naming of Ivan Blatny Close on the Ribbans Park development in Ipswich. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A new street in Ipswich has opened in honour of a “forgotten” Czech poet whose literary talents were rediscovered while he was living in Suffolk - with his country’s ambassador visiting to unveil the road.

Ivan Blatny was a patient at St Clements. Picture: LUCY TAYLORIvan Blatny was a patient at St Clements. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Ivan Blatny was a highly-regarded writer in Czechoslovakia immediately after the war – and was part of a cultural delegation to the UK when the Communists seized power in his home country in 1948.

He decided to stay in the UK as a refugee and initially got some work with the BBC World Service – but then his health started to deteriorate.

He was treated for mental health problems and eventually became a patient at St Clement’s Hospital in Foxhall Road, Ipswich.

In Czechoslovakia, his work fell out of favour with the Communist government and he was largely forgotten – people thought he had died.

But in the late 1970s Frances Meacham, who had befriended him in Ipswich, was on holiday in Brno and met someone who had known him as a young man.

She discovered that his work was highly regarded – and as a result, new books of poetry he had written at the hospital found a publisher.

MORE: Former hospital converted into homes

Since the Communist regime fell in 1989, a year before his death, Ivan Blatny’s works have been very popular in his homeland again – especially the region of Moravia, of which Brno is the largest city.

Now one of the roads on the new Ribbans Park development in Ipswich, built on St Clement’s site, has been named Ivan Blatny Close - and Czech ambassador Libor Secka visited Ipswich to formally dedicate the new road.

He said: “Ivan Blatny is a very well-known poet for Czechs, especially in Moravia, and we are very pleased that he is being recognised here where he lived for a long time and produced some of his best-known work.

“Despite everything, I think he was quite happy here and found the peace he was looking for. There is still a great deal of interest in Ivan Blatny and I expect many Czech people who are visiting the UK will want to visit this area and see where he spent many years of his life.”

Ivan Blatny moved to Clacton in 1984 – there is a blue plaque on the Edensor Care Home in Orwell Road to mark his years there – and died in Colchester just a year after the “Velvet Revolution” restored democracy to his homeland.


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