Video: Celebrating Ipswich’s rich maritime heritage - in peace and war

Ipswich Maritime Trust directors Capt Geoffrey Hartgove, Des Pawson and Stuart Grimwade at Neptune M

Ipswich Maritime Trust directors Capt Geoffrey Hartgove, Des Pawson and Stuart Grimwade at Neptune Marina. - Credit: Archant

Maritime Trust is looking forward to the festival weekend

Ipswich Waterfront today is a place to work, live and play - with restaurants and bars as well as offices and homes.

In the many hundreds of years of the town’s maritime history, the port has had a vital role in the economic and industrial success of the town, and also had a key role in war and conflicts.

That rich history will be celebrated at the Ipswich Maritime Festival, next weekend, August 15 and 16, within the old Victorian wet dock.

Although most of the `heavy’ port work has moved downriver - beyond the Wet Dock, it still has a big role in commerce including boatbuilding.

Ipswich is still a busy port.

And the marinas berths are home for dozens of private yachts, boats and pleasure craft - from dinghies to sailing barges.

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For this special weekend there will also be many visiting craft, The Old Gaffers Association arriving on Saturday, and a variety of other boats, barges and yachts.

Looking forward to the event are the members of the Ipswich Maritime Trust, the town organisation that was formed to champion the town’s maritime heritage, a history which includes boatbulders and Samuel Pepys, explorers, great naval heroes and Lord Nelson.

The Victorian Wet Dock was key to economic success, and it became a target for aircraft in the two World Wars.

Geoff Hartgrove said: “This was the biggest sea port on the East Coast through the Second World War.”

The Germans clearly had plans to use Ipswich for their invasion once they had landed.

The wartime history of the area is one of the themes for the weekend.

The Ipswich Maritime Trust Window Museum can be seen on the quayside all year.

Maritime weekend, in partnership with Associated British Ports, there will be an additional museum display by the trust in the Old Custom House.

I met up with IMT Trust directors Des Pawson, Capt Geoffrey Hartgrove and Stuart Grimwade at Neptune Marina, on board his yacht Britanny, ahead of the festival.

Many boat owneres will be on board their boats in the marinas over the weekend, to be part of the festival, through until the firework display late on Sunday evening.

Stuart Grimwade will be dressing Britanny to look good for the occasion. “It will absolutely full of boats here. It is a very colourful scene.”

“This is all about celebrating Ipswich.

“Every time people come in here on boats from Holland and Belgium for the first time, they are all amazed we don’t do more to celebrate this.

“They come across the North Sea because it is something special.

“Ipswich has a rich maritime history. It is the oldest recorded English town and it was an international port in the 7th Century.”

The IMT display in the Old Custom House will include photographs and a German bombing/invasion map for Ipswich from the 1939-45 war.

There will also be a propeller from a FockeWulf 190 fighter bomber, which came down in Ipswich on June 2, 1943 - killing its pilot, during a bombing raid in which four local people had also died, when homes were hit in Pretyman and Hamilton Road.

It is a reminder of the real human cost of war.

“We are working closely with ABP, and they will be putting on a display about how the port works today,” he added.

The trust will also put on a display during the heritage open weekend, in Setember, at The Old Custom House.

Des Pawson added: “The trust is growing, in interest and membership. We must be doing something right.

“Attendance for our talks is very good and with the interest in our window museum that people are very proud of Ipswich’s maritime heritage.

“We are very proud to be where we are, from when the first Maritime Festival was held in 1982.”

Although a lot of boats had turned up for the first Maritime Festival in 1982, it was still a working port and there was little development along the Waterfront quays.

It has been transformed in recent years, since the “dirty” trades and factory businesses have moved out, to be replaced by offices, homes and leisure.

The first Ipswich Maritime Trust window museum display was opened in Setember 2009, by the mayor of Ipswich. The current display is th 12th.

To find out more about the Maritime Festival 2015, go to Ipswich Star - The Event.

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