Gallery: New book looks at Ipswich Through Time - see how the town has changed here

Ipswich Through Time - The River Orwell before the bridge was built

Ipswich Through Time - The River Orwell before the bridge was built - Credit: Archant

“People always ask about the name,” says Caleb Howgego, slightly wearily.

Caleb Howego has written a book about the history of Ipswich.

Caleb Howego has written a book about the history of Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

“Sorry,” I say, “It’s just I’ve never met anyone called Howgego before!”

It’s ‘probably from Huguenot’, Caleb suggests, after the Protestant refugees who came here from the 16th century onwards to escape religious persecution in France.

With such a rich historical name, perhaps it was inevitable that Caleb would follow a historical career path himself.

He has a BA in history and politics from the University of East Anglia, runs his own blog on the local history of Ipswich and works for the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.

“The publishers saw the blog and asked if I’d like to do the book,” he says. “Of course, I jumped at the chance.”

The book is Ipswich Through Time, part of a series of books exploring time warp photography across the country.

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There are several titles focused on Suffolk. A Bury St Edmunds Through Time, a Southwold to Aldeburgh Through Time, and a Felixstowe Through Time are also in the series.

“It’s been fascinating,” says Caleb, who grew up in Ipswich and has spent hours in the Suffolk record office, and going through picture archives. “I’ve loved discovering things like why certain streets have the names they do.

“For example Silent Street, where there are two theories: one that they used to put straw down to stop the noise of the horses on the cobbles because there was a hospital there in the mid 17th century, the other that it was because of the heavy loss of life from plague in the street during 1665-6.”

“My research has made me realise how rich the history of Ipswich is and how, through it, I am also telling England’s story. The way things have changed, the things we have lost and gained.”

Caleb, a former Copleston High School pupil, doesn’t believe that Ipswich has necessarily got worse over the years.

“It’s tempting to see the past through rose tinted glasses and to equate change to decline,” he said. But having studied the work of Victorian photographers who previously captured Ipswich such as William Vick and William Cobb, he is convinced that in Victorian times people felt as nostalgic for the buildings of the past as we do now.

“In Victorian times people viewed the developments then as degradation, just as we lament the loss of the Victorian buildings in Ipswich for more modern ones.

“People tend to paint Ipswich as the underdog but I think it’s a great place with a bright future. Where else would you see a Grade 1 listed building like the Unitarian Meeting House, built in 1700, next to the Willis Corroon building built in 1975?

“I think in 200 years time, people will want to celebrate that.”

Or alternatively, we could just celebrate it now...

Ipswich Through Time, published by Amberley Publishing, is now available online and in Waterstones