Maritime Memoirs

Over the last 100 years the landscape of Maritime Ipswich has changed dramatically. From the extension of the Port of Ipswich, the opening and closer of the Ipswich power station, creation of the Orwell Bridge as well as the 1982 Maritime Ipswich celebrations, and as such there are thousands of fantastic stories and memories to be told. Over 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic so many of us had been in self-isolation and lockdown. We conducted a project asking for stories and memories of Maritime Ipswich to add to the collections of the Ipswich Maritime Trust.

Aims of the Maritime Memoir Project:

This project aimed to enable people to uncover their own stories of Maritime Ipswich and to help share their memories and stories for the benefit of current and future generations. This project will also help us with our charitable aims, including:

  • Continually sharing the contents of the Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive and collections online for all to explore.
  • Creating events and exhibitions, resources and engagement programmes.
  • Enriching Window Museum displays with locally relevant material from the Ipswich Maritime Trust Archive, in which much of this material will be on public display for the first time.
  • Carrying out new research, training a new generation of community volunteers and recording stories and memories from the present-day Maritime Ipswich community.

What to contribute:

We welcomed anything that people were happy to have recorded and stored for posterity, in relation to Maritime Ipswich. That said, we were particularly interested in what it was like living near and working on the Ipswich Docks in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s and, of course, any memories of the Ipswich Docks and those involved with it from any period. We also wanted to know more about the people who owned vessels and businesses and who worked at the variety of maritime businesses in Ipswich and along the River Orwell.

These included tales that had been passed down by parents, grandparents, etc. as well as ‘first-hand’ memories. These stories also included photos, videos or even audio recordings.

How to contribute:

You can still send your memories to us via email at and put Maritime Memories in the subject line.

Include in the email to us your name (so that we can be sure of the spelling) and a completed Maritime Memoir Project Form, which includes the Terms and Conditions of the project and that you are happy for us to retain your contact information. It may be that one of our volunteer researchers will want to contact you for further information about your contribution(s). Please also state that in your message to us, if you do not want to do this and we will assume that you do not wish to be contacted further.

What happens next:

The official collection phase of this project lasted until 30th September 2021 (though you can continue to submit memories after this date if you wish). All stories are individually reviewed and curated by a small team of Ipswich Maritime Trust volunteers. Each memoir will be then catalogued in our Archive within curated Anthologies including notes about the content. This process will take some time and will depend on the volunteer hours available and the number of contributions we receive.

Once this is complete our team will start selecting stories for use in existing and future exhibitions in our Window Museum, make them available digitally, as well as to support further research into the history of Maritime Ipswich. We hope that some of you will find this project interesting and will want to take part. We look forward to listening to your maritime memories and thank you in advance for helping us support Maritime Ipswich and keep these stories alive for everyone.

Examples of Maritime Memoirs:

“My father’s boyhood friend Bob Farthing told this story against himself. Bob hired out rowing skiffs on the East Bank of the New Cut. At arrival and sailing of Paddle Steamers he would make a bob or two as a porter. On this occasion a commercial traveller, heavily laden with sample cases and bags was assisted ashore into a horse cab. About to drive off Bob exclaimed ‘You won’t forget me sir?’ – ‘Forget you? I shall never forget you, you’re the ugliest b***** I’ve ever set eyes on!’ “

Bob Fox
A variety of vessels including rowing skiffs on the East Bank of the New Cut with paddle steamers in the background. Just like in Bob’s Maritime Memoir – IMT Image Archive

Maritime Memoir Project Updates: