Original programme from Ipswich Airport opening in 1930 discovered
A retired shop and garage owner from Ipswich has unearthed an original programme from the opening of Ipswich Airport in 1930 at his home in Hawthorn Drive.
Ron Whale, 80, unearthed the unusual find after years of it having laid in a draw in his garage. His father, Percy Whale, had attended the opening on Thursday, June 26, 1930, when the Suffolk Aeroplane Club held a host of demonstrations to launch the airfield.
“My father was living in Alan Road and he was a haulage contractor in those days and he went along to the opening,” said Mr Whale.
“My dad had gone to it and kept the programme, and then it just got lost or mislaid and put in a box left in my garage.
“It was a big thing in 1930, the opening of that airport – it was a lovely little airport.
“My father always said what a grand day it [the opening] was, and it was a big highlight in those days.”
The detailed programme has a full schedule of the day, which included the appearance of the Prince of Wales, aerial gunnery and aerobatics displays, demonstration flights, a treasure hunt, a parade and fly-past and parachute jumps.
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But Mr Whale, who was born seven years after the airfield’s opening, still has fond memories of the once-thriving site.
“I am an Ipswich boy – I was born and bred in Ipswich, and we lived only a walk away from the airport.
“That was a beautiful place and there used to be flights day and night – everyone used to use it.
“It made me so sad when they closed it – that could have been an international airport for Ipswich.”
Mr Whale was among those to petition against its closure, but despite his efforts and those of other people in the town against the closure, the airport officially shut its gates for good in 1996.
But Mr Whale said he is proud to have a small part of Ipswich’s history in his hands with the programme – and can proudly show off his other link to aerial history.
“I have got what was once Amy Johnson’s car I bought 35 or 40 years ago,” he said.
“I bought it off a chap who did the research and found out she had bought a Vauxhall 10 at that time with that registration.
“It’s nice to have it but it is sad that most people have never heard of her now.”
What to do if you find an artefact
Suffolk Record Office is one of the few others believed to own a copy of the historic programme – but archivists have urged others not to throw away similar artefacts.
A spokeswoman from the record office said: “All three branches of the record office at Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft collect material on an almost daily basis – this might range from a pamphlet or photograph to many boxes of archives.
“If people find local Suffolk material that they think might be worth permanent preservation in the record office for future generations to research, we would encourage them to contact their local branch.
“We are constantly surprised by the wonderful things that people bring or send in to add to the collections.
“If anyone finds an item like this programme they can check if we have it already by searching the catalogue on the website here.”