Ipswich: Demand for recognition fuels neighbourly rivalry

Sir Bob Russell

Sir Bob Russell - Credit: Andrew Partridge

OUR call for Ipswich’s position as the oldest English town to be recognised on road signs has not gone down well 18 miles along the A12.

Colchester claims to be Britain’s oldest recorded town, having been a Roman settlement that was sacked by Queen Boudicca.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said with sarcasm: “Someone’s having a laugh. April 1 is not for another week or so.

“Ipswich has many attributes which it should concentrate on, not try to pretend it has an historic claim which is in breach of trade descriptions.

“I suggest an urgent return to the drawing board is required.

“Colchester Is Britain’s Oldest Recorded Town and the First Capital of Roman Britain – at that time there may have been a cluster of primitive dwellings on the banks of the Orwell, but it was several centuries before the Anglo-Saxons arrived.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “Sir Bob has represented Colchester for many years and knows the town well, however he does not seem to remember that it was abandoned when the Romans left and that Ipswich was the first English town, settled by the Anglo-Saxons.”

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Ipswich has never claimed to be a major Roman settlement – although there was a villa in the Castle Hill area – it was the first ENGLISH town.

The words England and English derive from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded after the Romans left – the settlement of Gipeswic was first established by King Raedwald around the year 600AD as a port to enable trade between East Anglia and continental Europe.

At that time Colchester was largely uninhabited – and only re-established itself as a major settlement some years after Ipswich.