Felixstowe hopes for tourist boom

WITH holidays abroad off the agenda for many recession-hit families this summer, Felixstowe's is looking forward to welcoming even more visitors.It could possibly be one of the best summer seasons for its tourist trade for a while with many people expected to look for days out and shorter breaks closer to home.

WITH holidays abroad off the agenda for many recession-hit families this summer, Felixstowe's is looking forward to welcoming even more visitors.

It could possibly be one of the best summer seasons for its tourist trade for a while with many people expected to look for days out and shorter breaks closer to home.

“The last couple of weekends have been quite good for us, though we are still down on last year there is a better feel about things,” said Charles Manning, of Charles Manning's Amusement Park in Sea Road.

“Business is tough for everyone and we need all the help we can get, but we are quite hopeful about the summer and we might get some benefit if people decide to have days out instead of going away.


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“If we have nice weather, I am sure people will still want to make the most of it.”

Felixstowe still has children's rides and amusements, crazy golf, and other traditional entertainment along its seafront, but over the years has lost many favourite attractions.

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Funfair rides such as the big wheel, crazy house, big dipper, swingboats and helter skelter are now gone, but also stranger items such as goat-carts, and a jockey weighing machine which was a much-loved feature of the seafront until 1966.

Donkey rides were popular at the resort in the early years of the 20th century at a time when bathing machines were wheeled into the sea to provide a little privacy for modest Victorians and Edwardians changing for a swim.

Jack Rattle ran the donkey herd with rides along the beach six pence each.

Felixstowe historian Phil Hadwen said: “It would be lovely to have the donkeys back again but I don't think it is going to happen.

“These days our beach wouldn't suit the animals.

“Back in the early 1900s before the prom was fully built and the other seafront buildings and streets, the beach was much bigger, more compacted and proper land for the donkeys to walk on.”

There were several bandstands, model yachts raced on the yacht pond, water dodgems, open-air sea pool, boats trips round the bay, arcades, and train trips up and down the pier. Monkey Island at the funfair featured monkeys and a lion.

“The biggest loss has been not having a pier open to the public - being able to walk out along it and look back and see different views of the town was a real attraction,” said Mr Hadwen.

What do you miss from Felixstowe's past attractions? What new features would you like to see now? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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