Eleven reasons why we love Felixstowe!
PUBLISHED: 12:05 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:03 12 March 2020
Seaside town that delighted the Empress of Germany is enjoying a new renaissance
Was John Chevallier Cobbold the 'Father of Felixstowe'? The man from the clan that gave us a string of brewers, bankers and other go-getters knew a good thing when he saw it - or dreamed it up.
The railway pioneer is credited with kick-starting the growth of the Suffolk resort and building its first hotel.
Felixstowe became a 'select' location in the late 1800s - especially with Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II (grandson of Queen Victoria) acknowledging its delights.
He chose Felixstowe for his family's holiday in 1891. Empress Augusta Victoria and five sons stayed at South Beach mansion, at the top of Bent Hill, that July.
Like many UK seaside resorts, Felixstowe's fortunes took a knock when foreign package holidays became popular. But things have changed for the better - and still are. Here are 11 reasons (and there are more) to love Felixstowe.
A multi-million-pound restoration project (thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and East Suffolk Council) has given us no less than eight beautiful born-again gardens stretching nearly a kilometre along the prom. A real treat for the senses.
There surely can't be a family that's championed Felixstowe so long and fervently than the Mannings. Its amusements are legendary; now we await Beach Street.
This will be a mix of street food and retail outlets in a range of converted shipping containers on under-used fairground land. Think café culture and vintage clothing, jewellery, flowers, beauty products and more - in a block-paved 'street' with palm trees.
Another multi-million-pound redevelopment has given us Britain's newest pier (or, really, a 1905 pier wearing sparkling new togs).
The pier has a shiny family entertainment centre, Boardwalk Café Bar with sea views, an ice-cream parlour, fish and chips, and more.
Places to eat
So much choice! Here's just three ideas.
The Fludyers (a restored Edwardian building) is a seafront pub, restaurant and hotel in Undercliff Road East. In Undercliff Road West is Italian restaurant Alba Chiara. And in High Road West is coffee shop, tearoom and craft shop Cuppa... using directly-traded organic coffee beans and fair trade teas.
Felixstowe Book Festival
More than 40 author events for adults, plus fun things for children and families, squeezed each year into a long summer weekend. Lovely!
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Every seaside needs a vibrant theatre. Felixstowe's is a phoenix risen from the ashes. The Spa shut in 2013 but was rescued in 2015. Shakatak, Strictly's Giovanni Pernice and Vienna Festival Ballet are but three names coming this year.
The taste of 'fresh'
How many towns have an artisan bakery and fishmonger?
Felixstowe Bakery, in Hamilton Road, uses traditional techniques and quality ingredients to create handmade bread, cakes and savouries, as well as wheat-free spelt bread and sour dough loaves.
The Felixstowe Fishmongers Ltd began life supplying fresh fish to shoppers. About eight years later the family-run Crescent Road business also provides a wholesale service to restaurants, pubs and cafes.
So many towns lack a cinema. Happily, Felixstowe's Palace Cinema opened on March 29, 1937, and is still entertaining customers with up-to-the-minute releases.
Rooms with a view
For a luxurious pad with sea views you can't beat The Bartlet apartments in Undercliff Road East. The conversion of the former Bartlet Hospital is an architectural triumph. Flats change hands for hundreds of thousands.
Ancient and modern
Locally-raised author Hayley Long reckons Landguard Fort is like a stage set for Game of Thrones!
A maze of rooms and passageways can be explored in these buildings on the site of the last opposed seaborne invasion of England (by the Dutch in 1667).
Nearby is View Point, with beautiful views of the Shotley peninsula and Harwich , and probably some of the huge container ships that use the Port of Felixstowe. There's a nice café, too.
Air and water
Felixstowe Ferry (a place) sometimes feels like the edge of the world. Land gives way to water at the spot where the sea and River Deben meet.
Buy fresh fish to take home; or eat at The Ferry Café-Diner or Ferry Boat Inn. There's also a seasonal ferry (foot passengers and bikes) to Bawdsey Quay. Oodles of atmosphere.