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Eleven reasons why we love Felixstowe!

PUBLISHED: 12:05 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:03 12 March 2020

A 12th good reason? Art on the Prom is a colourful contemporary fair where artists show and sell their work on Felixstowe prom. The 2020 event is on Sunday, September 6 from 10am to 4pm    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A 12th good reason? Art on the Prom is a colourful contemporary fair where artists show and sell their work on Felixstowe prom. The 2020 event is on Sunday, September 6 from 10am to 4pm Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Seaside town that delighted the Empress of Germany is enjoying a new renaissance

Beach huts along the seafront at Felixstowe  Picture: MICK WEBBBeach huts along the seafront at Felixstowe Picture: MICK WEBB

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.

Seafront gardens

One of Felixstowe's restored seafront gardens in 2016     Picture: SIMON PARKEROne of Felixstowe's restored seafront gardens in 2016 Picture: SIMON PARKER

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.

Beach Street

How Beach Street at Manning's Amusement Park could look Picture: ROBERT ALLERTONHow Beach Street at Manning's Amusement Park could look Picture: ROBERT ALLERTON

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.

The pier

Felixstowe Pier operations manager Andrew Green at the opening of the revamped pier in 2017       Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFelixstowe Pier operations manager Andrew Green at the opening of the revamped pier in 2017 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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

A mouthwatering offering at Felixstowe's new Italian restaurant, Alba Chiara     Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA mouthwatering offering at Felixstowe's new Italian restaurant, Alba Chiara Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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

Meg Reid, director of Felixstowe Book Festival, in 2015        Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNMeg Reid, director of Felixstowe Book Festival, in 2015 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

More than 40 author events for adults, plus fun things for children and families, squeezed each year into a long summer weekend. Lovely!

You may also want to watch:

Ray Anderson - the man behind the reborn Felixstowe Spa Pavilion      Picture: DAVID VINCENTRay Anderson - the man behind the reborn Felixstowe Spa Pavilion Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Spa Pavilion

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.

Felixstowe Bakery uses traditional techniques and quality ingredients to create handmade bread, cakes and savouries. Stock photo.  Picture: GETTY IMAGESFelixstowe Bakery uses traditional techniques and quality ingredients to create handmade bread, cakes and savouries. Stock photo. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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.

In 2013, Ashleigh Horsley helped The Palace Cinema, Felixstowe, celebrate getting a makeover so it could show 3D digital films

         Picture: LUCY TAYLORIn 2013, Ashleigh Horsley helped The Palace Cinema, Felixstowe, celebrate getting a makeover so it could show 3D digital films Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Screen time

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.

Bartlet Hospital just before it was redeveloped into housing  Picture: SIMON PARKERBartlet Hospital just before it was redeveloped into housing Picture: SIMON PARKER

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.

The Port of Felixstowe from the View Point Cafe        Picture: JANICE POULSONThe Port of Felixstowe from the View Point Cafe Picture: JANICE POULSON

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.

Inside the Ferry Boat Inn in 2016      Picture: LUCY TAYLORInside the Ferry Boat Inn in 2016 Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

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.


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