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IMT 2018 Spring talks

Wednesday 7th February at 7.30pm

‘Samuel Pepys and the Making of the Royal Navy’

by Mark Mitchels

Mark Mitchels, an ever-popular speaker, returns to give us an insight into Samuel Pepys and the making of the Royal Navy.

Samuel Pepys has left us a diary which is justly famous: it gives us a view of 17th century England at the time of the Restoration in 1660. So many of the entries are quoted – plague, Fire of London, theatre performances, lustful dalliances and so on that it is easy to ignore Pepys’ life after 1669 when he closed the diary. But he achieved far more in his lifetime than just entertain us with his day to day reflections.

He could be said to have created the Royal Navy and set it on course to dominate the seas in the centuries after his death in 1703. He was appointed Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board in 1660 and confessed he knew nothing about ships, sailors or ship-building, but he was determined to learn, and from that time he became the expert on every detail of naval administration. He struggled to eradicate corrupt practices in ships and dockyards (allowing himself some leeway when they could affect his personal circumstances!) and put in place measures to ensure naval officers were suitably qualified. And all while England was at war with the Dutch. This talk celebrates Samuel Pepys the Diarist – and the creator of the modern Royal Navy.

Wednesday 7th March at 7.30pm

‘One dock, two families, a fleet of ships and a pinch of fertilizer:  a story of poo & poops

by Giles Colchester

Two men built their wealth making artificial fertilizer from coprolites (so called dinosaur poo).  Both owned a series of barges and both had shipping interests in Ipswich – one owned a shipyard and the other had the greatest tonnage of shipping passing through Ipswich docks in 1868.  This talk is about the families of both these men, and how they came to be involved with the docks at Ipswich.  Both became aldermen of Ipswich and both had sons who were mayors of Ipswich. 

The talk will concentrate on the interests of William Colchester who owned the first ship to enter the Ipswich Wet dock in 1842, Edward Packard who had built a fertilizer plant on the side of Ipswich docks before moving it to Bramford in 1854, and his son Sir Edward Packard who designed a steam barge in 1868 for use on the Gipping navigation.


Giles Colchester was born in Bruisyard Suffolk, moved to London in the 1970s and has returned regularly to Suffolk since then.  He has been researching the family histories of both the Packard and Colchester families and their extensive Suffolk interests for twenty-five years.

Wednesday 4th April at 8pm (approx) after the AGM at 7.30pm

‘Pierhead Paintings - Ship Portraits from East Anglia & beyond’

 by Bob Malster & Des Pawson

Major ship-owners commissioned large scale oil paintings, demonstrating their wealth and suitable for the mansions in which they lived.  Those that sailed on the smaller craft wished to have a portrait of their ship for their more modest homes, reminding their family of them when they were away at sea. There were artists that specialised in such paintings, sometimes in oils, but often in gouache or watercolour, and very modestly priced. In many cases these artists would prepare the basic background of a painting and solicit orders from the crew of a ship. Then they would quickly generate the finished work or works, frequently delivering them just as the vessel departed, almost from the pierhead. Hence the term “Pierhead Painting”. These were often painted in quite a simple and formulaic style but, one thing that would be certain, was that  the details of the vessels’ rigging & colour scheme etc would be absolutely correct. The purchaser knew their ship intimately and the painter had to have an equally clear understanding of the vessel.

All are welcome to our lectures at the Waterfront Building, University of Suffolk. Free car parking is available in the UoS car park opposite the Waterfront Building. The cost for attending a talk is £3.50 for members and £4.50 for guests.

IMT Thames Barge all-day sailing trips and afternoon music trips

Due to the popularity of these events we have organised three all-day cruising trips, and two afternoon music trips on sb Victor for 2018. The music trips will feature one with the ‘Good Times’ jazz group, and the second with the jazz group ‘La Fontaine Trio’.

Dates of the trips (all Thursdays) are:

June 14th 09.00 - 17.30 (approx) - All day sailing trip

June 28th 14.00 - 18.00 (approx) - ‘Good Times’ jazz group

July 12th 09.00 - 17.30 (approx) - All day sailing trip

August 9th 09.00 - 17.30 (approx) - All day sailing trip

August 23rd 14.00 - 18.00 (approx) - ‘La Fontaine Trio’ jazz group  

Day sailings include breakfast snack, mid-morning coffee and biscuits, 2-course lunch with wine, and afternoon cream tea and cost £57 per head

Afternoon music trips include a finger buffet with tea and coffee and cost £35 per head.

Booking form on ‘Forms’ page or contact Bob Pawsey on 01473 252893 for more information and bookings.