Vikings set to converge on town

WOODBRIDGE is bracing itself for a Viking invasion as it prepares to celebrate its rich maritime history.

Richard Cornwell

WOODBRIDGE is bracing itself for a Viking invasion as it prepares to celebrate its rich maritime history.

A marauding party will invade the riverside town and pull a replica long ship along The Thoroughfare in the shopping centre before setting up camp by the Deben.

Visitors will be able try their hand at Viking fighting skills and learn about how they lived.

Also on the Viking theme, there will be a treasure hunt, a lecture on the Vikings in Suffolk by Time Team historian Dr Sam Newton and on how the Vikings built and sailed their ships by Vibeke Bischoff, curator of the Rosskilde Viking Ship Museum, in Denmark.

Shops will compete for a prize for the best nautical window display, and there will be a nautical painting competition.

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The events are part of Maritime Woodbridge, which is being staged on the weekend of September 13 to 14 from 10am to 5pm each day.

Last year the event attracted about 10,000 visitors.

Classic wooden boats of all kinds and sizes will assemble at the quay. Four Thames sailing barges are expected, and three yachts formerly owned by Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome will be open to visitors.

Ashore, classic wooden dinghies and launches built by local yard Everson's will be displayed.

Event chairman Michael Rines said: “The marine exhibition in one of the former Whisstocks boat sheds will be bigger than ever, and the Maritime Proms, a free nautical music concert, will again round off the afternoon on both days.

“Even if it rains, visitors should not be put off because so much is under cover in the massive former boat sheds.

“There will be exhibitions of marine paintings and photographs.

“The famous Tide Mill on the dock side and the traditional boat building yards and sailing clubs will be open to visitors.

“A Suffolk Punch-drawn carriage will connect the event to the attractions in the town, which will be open as part of National Heritage Open Days, and will include the Town Museum, the Suffolk Punch Heavy Horse Museum, Buttrums Windmill and the Quaker burial ground wildlife haven.”

There will also be an opportunity to try paddling a coracle in a specially constructed pond, and throughout there will be free boat trips, and shanty groups and two bands will create a festive atmosphere.

Everything in the event, except the carriage rides, is free thanks to funding by the National Lottery through Awards for All and by Suffolk County Council Single Gateway, plus contributions from Woodbridge businesses and voluntary organisations.

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