Things about Suffolk that have made us happy
PUBLISHED: 15:30 18 March 2020
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Let’s count our blessings during this time of uncertainty and remember things that have made our hearts sing
We’ll start with something poptastic! The national broadcasters don’t make many stops in Suffolk (their loss) but BBC Radio 1 has certainly done us proud over the years.
It’s hard to believe the now-legendary Radio 1 Roadshow set up on the town centre Cornhill when it arrived in Ipswich in March, 1984. Hundreds of pop fans turned out to greet DJs Peter Powell and Mike Smith.
Peter Powell visited Ipswich Airport. Radio 1 also went to the artificial ski slope at Wherstead, where the intrepid Mr P met Suffolk-based (and much-missed) DJ John Peel. The pair managed to talk on air while sliding down on skies.
By May Day, 1996, the location had changed to roomier Christchurch Park and the crowd was counted in thousands. Presenter Lisa I’Anson kept the 3,000 entertained, with members of the public involved in games and competitions on stage.
And the music? Boyband 911 had many showgoers swooning and R&B singer Mark Morrison was also a hit.
The end of the 1990s meant farewell to the Roadshows – which morphed into a series of one-day pop concerts called One Big Sunday.
Ipswich wasn’t forgotten. In fact, the OBS in Chantry Park on August 13, 2000 was a humdinger – both with the presentational team (Jamie Theakston, Sara Cox, Chris Moyles, Scott Mills and Emma B) and the acts (5ive, All Saints, Muse, Texas and Mansun).
We didn’t have to wait long for a return visit: same place on July 14, 2002, for Liberty X, Natalie Imbruglia, Ms Dynamite, Idlewild and IKosheen.
Thanks for the memories, Fabulous Radio 1... By royal appointment
The Queen has come many times, including a sad visit in 1953 after the life-claiming North Sea floods, but a couple of occasions were particular times of joy.
In 1977 the monarch celebrated her silver jubilee. Following a long tour of New Zealand and Australia, the Queen began a sapping schedule of visits across the UK. On July 11 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh flew to Ipswich, greeted by a 21-gun salute.
Then came a car tour around town, along streets that in most cases were lined by flag-waving and cheering well-wishers.
The royal party initially drove to the Cornhill in the middle of Ipswich. There was also a stop at St Clement’s Hospital in Foxhall Road. Then it was off to Felixstowe, a rendezvous with royal yacht Britannia, and a voyage to Grimsby.
Another 25 years flashed by. The Queen was back in the county on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 as part of her golden jubilee celebrations. She opened Ipswich Waterfront after she and the Duke of Edinburgh landed in Alexandra Park.
The royals were driven to Coprolite Street before walking by the river to the Old Custom House and then being transported to Felaw Maltings. The building had been converted into a business centre. The Queen unveiled a plaque.
The royal visitors later travelled to Stowmarket, where the Queen and Prince Philip saw exhibitions marking Suffolk’s agricultural heritage, before going on to Bury St Edmunds.
Divide and conquer
Whether or not you like his music, you surely couldn’t be “Suffolk” and fail to have a lump in the throat when Ed Sheeran finished his record-breaking world tour on home turf.
There was a palpable feelgood factor in the air last August when Chantry Park in Ipswich was taken over by our local hero for four nights.
Ed’s Divide tour had begun in the spring of 2017 and racked up more than 250 dates as he played to more than seven million fans. In doing so, he broke the record for the most-attended and highest-grossing tour, set by U2.
The former Framlingham schoolboy told the crowd: “This is wicked! This feels really weird and cool to be on stage in a place I was brought up.
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“I did do the typical musician thing where you think you have to move to LA, so I moved to LA and hated everything about it. But I’ve lived back here for sort of, like, seven years and I just love being here and I’m so happy to be able to end the tour here.”
Land of the giants
Ipswich Town football fan Ed Sheeran might wish he’d been born earlier, and thus enjoyed the heady days when the Blues struck fear into the hearts of Liverpool and Manchester United.
Sport (and particularly soccer) really makes people’s pulses race, so we don’t apologise for mentioning Town several times.
November 23, 1977, and legendary players Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens run onto the Portman Road pitch.
Better still, Town beat their Barcelona side 3-0 in the third round home leg of the UEFA Cup. It is the stuff footballing dreams are made of.
It is a shame the Spanish masters return the compliment in the second leg, and then win a penalty shoot-out, but Ipswich and Suffolk are nothing but proud.
A day at the horse-races, followed by a pulsating music concert to round things off. Reading a list of the names scheduled for Newmarket Nights over the years is amazing – from Kaiser Chiefs, Will Young and Pussycat Dolls to Bananarama, Ronan Keating and Jess Glynne.
We’ve had Sir Tom Jones and Kaiser Chiefs, Little Mix and even Kylie. Who was your ante-post favourite?
Up for the cup
The second memorable Town game was on May 6, 1978, when a 77th-minute goal by Westerfield Wonder Roger Osborne saw Ipswich lift the FA Cup for the only time in their history.
For Town fans in the 100,000-strong Wembley crowd it was exhilarating. For folk back in Suffolk it was equally emotional.
Ipswich were hardly minnows. They’d three times finished third in the top tier, the Football League First Division: 1974/5, 1976/77 and 1979/80. But they were still not regarded as footballing royalty. May 6 was the day the Tractor Boys went to the capital and ploughed up the hallowed turf.
The next day, with a parade through Ipswich and the Cornhill heaving as the team waved from the town hall, was a time to pinch yourself – to check you weren’t dreaming.
The TV series Detectorists, filmed largely in Suffolk, was a bit Marmitey. You either had December 13, 2017, ringed in black on your calendar (to mourn the end of the third and final series) or you just didn’t get its “slow Suffolk” vibe and the essential futility of metal-detectoring.
The strength of Mackenzie Crook’s “baby” came from relationships. Romantic ones, yes, but particularly the power of friendship, such as the one binding the two main characters.
That made many of us happy – as did spotting Suffolk settings in places such as Framlingham, Orford, Great Glemham, and Aldham, near Hadleigh, with its round-towered church.
Southwold Pier really is 623 feet of fun – from eateries selling stone-baked pizzas to shops parading the wares of local artists and craftspeople.
Then there are the laughs to be found in the Under the Pier Show – nearly 20 surreal machines from the fertile mind of quirky Suffolk inventor Tim Hunkin.
These aren’t mass-produced amusements but lovingly-crafted one-offs (such as the Whack A Banker machine). Smiles and surprises by the bucketload.
Part two will follow. Keep an eye out...