Although the Orwell has been a commercial river serving the port of Ipswich for over 1,000 years, the attraction of the estuary as an internationally admired Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has made it an increasingly popular river for leisure boating and sailing. Since Victorian times enthusiasts have formed clubs at various places along the river: this new display, our 14th, shows some of their histories and memorabilia. The locations of the clubs are shown on a map of the river and current contacts for the current clubs are given. One notable fact is that the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA a “J Class” racing yacht, built for the Prince of Wales (later King George V) in 1893 and which he raced a number of times off Harwich, was so tall she would not have been able to pass under the Orwell Bridge.
The opening of Ipswich’s new Window Museum on Albion Quay means that the town’s rich maritime heritage can at last be properly recognised and displayed.
Since 1982, when the Trust was formed to help bring the Waterfront back to life from its gradual decline, there has been a growing call for such a museum, and now, through a unique collaboration between the developers of the Mill, Wharfside Regeneration, and the Trust, this has finally been achieved.
The Museum was officially opened by Capt. Jim Lawrence in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress on 13th September 2009, and is the first of a planned five display windows, which will together form the Museum. Capt. Lawrence, himself a renowned barge skipper and sailmaker, described the importance of the town’s maritime heritage stretching back through the centuries to its the Anglo-Saxon roots – as the Museum itself proclaims – ‘Ipswich has been a Seaport since the 7th Century’. Jim presented the Trust with the splendid banner seen in the picture below, which had been kindly made and donated by James Lawrence Sailmakers Ltd.
The Trust is currently preparing a full accredited Accessions Register of its Archive, and a summary will appear on this page once completed. Regular updates will then be added.
The Museum display is open to view by the public at all times, and the local exhibits will be regularly changed. The Trust’s Window Museum second display is now installed, this time featuring sailing barges and aspects of local traditional boatbuilding
The Window Museum is easy to find along the quay between Stoke Bridge and the Old Custom House, and the Trust has enhanced the newly surfaced quay by reinstating traditional barge mooring rings, so that historic vessels can once again moor at the head of the Dock.
If members of the public would like to help the Trust in this exciting project to save and display the town maritime heritage, it is hoped that they will contact Des Pawson MBE on 01473 690090, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ipswich Sea Cadets in attendance
Capt Geoff Hartgrove
Chairman of the Ipswich Maritime Trust