History of the arboretum at Christchurch Park, Ipswich, captured in pictures

David Miller , author of 'Ipswich Arboretum, A History and Celebration', photographed in Christchurc

David Miller , author of 'Ipswich Arboretum, A History and Celebration', photographed in Christchurch Park. - Credit: Archant

It’s been a much-loved feature of Ipswich town centre since Victorian times. Now a new book captures the history of Christchurch Park arboretum through a series of photographs dating back to the start of the last century.

A promenade in the arboretum was an excuse for the Edwardians to put on their Sunday best.

A promenade in the arboretum was an excuse for the Edwardians to put on their Sunday best. - Credit: Archant

The book, Ipswich Arboretum: A History and Celebration, has been written by David Miller, who was born in the arboretum lodge and lived there with his family for the first 20 years of his life.

It is full of old pictures from the Edwardian era – showing proud gardeners showing off their work and elegant families promenading through the park in their Sunday best.

The book is published on Saturday – and also includes some shots from the 1970s and 80s as well as modern photos capturing it in vibrant colour.

Mr Miller, who now lives just outside Ipswich with his family, said it was a wonderful place to be brought up. He said: “My father was one of the parks team and I was born in the lodge in 1971.

The Arboretum Lodge during Edwardian times.

The Arboretum Lodge during Edwardian times. - Credit: Archant

“It was a wonderful place to be brought up – we used the arboretum like our garden.”

As a teenager he remembers the arboretum being closed for several weeks after the storm of 1987: “It was like a private garden at that time,” he said.

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Designed in 1851, the arboretum has remained largely unchanged for over 160 years.

With its ornamental gardens and trees it is a peaceful retreat for all to enjoy and a haven for birds and other wildlife.

A park keeper from the early 20th century in the arboretum.

A park keeper from the early 20th century in the arboretum. - Credit: Archant

Mr Miller’s father Tony worked in the park for 40 years – and during the 1980s the arboretum’s displays were a crucial element of the town’s bids for the Britain in Bloom title.

One of the more extraordinary pictures captures the moment that the then council director of recreation and amenities Randall Bevan – a former British champion trampolinist – did a somersault of joy after the town won the title for the first time in 1983.

He is watched by then parks manager Rodney Cook.

The book is published by Gresham Publications and all proceeds will benefit Christchurch Park and the arboretum.

It has a foreword by former Ipswich School headmaster Dr John Blatchly and will be on sale for £10 members of the Friends of Christchurch Park will be able to claim a free copy.