River was source for trade

MAKING a cycle path from Sproughton to Ipswich, along the River Gipping, has been proposed recently. What a wonderful idea. I have, in recent times, both walked to Sproughton along the old tow path and with difficulty cycled the route.

MAKING a cycle path from Sproughton to Ipswich, along the River Gipping, has been proposed recently.

What a wonderful idea. I have, in recent times, both walked to Sproughton along the old tow path and with difficulty cycled the route.

The present flood barriers make cycling a real challenge as you have to climb up and over a flood barrier near the Boss Hall industrial site via narrow concrete steps.

There was a time when the route was clear from Ipswich to Stowmarket along the tow paths. Now much of the route until you reach Sproughton is overgrown, strewn with litter and graffiti. Industrialisation on some parts has destroyed the natural beauty.

The records of the Gipping Angling Preservation Society, which was formed in 1868, record salmon making their way up the river to spawn and plentiful trout in clear pools.

There have been disasters on the river. In 1928 acid was accidentally leaked into the river at Stowmarket, killing everything, and by the time the Second World War started in 1939, apparently the river was little more than an outlet for industrial waste.

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The development of the river was planned early in the eighteenth century. The Act 'For making and maintaining a navigable communication between Ipswich and Stowmarket' received Royal Assent on April 1, 1790. Work totalling £35,000 started in May that year. Fifteen locks were built over the16 miles between the two towns. In September 1793 the new navigation route opened and helped trade as cargo could be transported inland and produce from the land carried to larger ships at Ipswich.

There were several water mills operating on the Gipping, including Sproughton, Bramford, Blakenham, Baylham, Bosmere and Badley.

Problems for trade on the Gipping began when Ipswich Dock was constructed with the lock facing downriver. Then, in 1846, the railway reached Stowmarket. These two changes took much of the trade away from the River Gipping.

By early in the twentieth century little trade was carried beyond Bramford from where E. Packard and Company Limited transported artificial fertiliser to and from their works at Ipswich Dock. The navigation of the Gipping was closed by an act of Parliament in 1922.

Do you have any memories of boating on the River Gipping or how it was before litter and graffiti took the charm away from large parts of this natural asset?

Write with your memories to: Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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My thanks to Barbara Cutting of Stowmarket for the Harry Walters photographs.

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