Gallery: Celebrations in Felixstowe as port marks a special day

Events to mark one of the biggest days in Felixstowe’s history have now got underway.

The Princess Royal arrived to open the port’s �300million new expansion project, which will provide two new deepwater berths for the world’s largest container ships.

Wearing a tartan jacket and blue trousers, Princess Anne was welcomed by Lord Tollemache, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, before being taken to the cab of an 80-metre high crane where, under guidance of instructor Kevin Harris, she lifted a container onto the vessel MSC Esthi to inaugurate the two new deepwater berths.

Currently the Port of Felixstowe deals with over 40 per cent of the country’s container cargo – around �60bn of imports and exports each year. The expansion could add a further �20bn to this figure.

David Gledhill, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports UK, said: “As an island nation, a huge proportion of the goods on the high street are imported in containers and more come through the Port of Felixstowe than anywhere else.

“As container ships get larger it is crucial ports like Felixstowe stay ahead of the game and ensure the UK is ready for the introduction of the next generation of container ships.

“Failure to provide facilities for the new container ships would mean the world’s most efficient ships could not dock in the UK, driving up the cost of imports and making UK exports less competitive.”

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This afternoon there was a sensational opening ceremony for 300 invited guests, mainly representatives of the port’s customers and civic dignitaries, with a team of free runners giving an exhibition on containers, plus robots and rockets.

The town is gearing up for a seafront party tonight to celebrate the special anniversary.

There are free rides for children on the seafront amusements next to the pier as part of the celebrations and fireworks.

Two bands will be performing live and a 46 square metre screen will be placed on the leisure centre car park to show a recording of the Princess Royal’s visit today.

Portworkers are being given a �15 voucher to spend at a wide variety of food stalls, and members of the public will also be able to buy food from the stands.

The evening will also include a collection for RNLI Felixstowe branch – the port’s charity this year – and this is also being supported by pier owner Stan Threadwell, who is donating his fee for allowing use of the pier, and a donation from the Sheringham Shanty Men.

? See tonight’s Evening Star for a free 32-page souvenir supplement to celebrate the port’s special occasion.

? Portworkers are also receiving copies of a souvenir book to mark the occasion – an updated version of the history of the port by authors Phil Hadwen, Peter White, John Smith and Neil Wylie.

The port has agreed to make the books available to the public from Magpie Books, Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, costing �19.95 with �1 of the price going to RNLI Felixstowe.