We support many publications about Ipswich’s maritime history and wider local maritime stories. Please see below some fantastic examples of the books and publications we have supported over the years.

Sailing Barges – The Dunkirk Story by Barbara Butler

The story of Dunkirk and the part that over seven hundred small craft played in saving Allied forces and evacuating them back to England has been well documented, but Barbara Butler is writing for the first time about sailing barges. 19th Century sailing barges were a disappearing breed by 1940 and are in the 21st century a rarity. It might be said that the part they played in the saving of a stranded army was their finest hour in all the years they sailed. Barbara in this remarkable book captures the stories of the barges and bargemen that sailed them to Dunkirk in 1940 and is a remarkable collection of tales told by the people themselves. The letter Lem Webb wrote to his son on his return, the account Charlie Webb wrote, the note Johny sent to his mum before he died are among several first-hand accounts by bargemen of their experience of Dunkirk. This book is available at a variety of booksellers and on Amazon.

The Port of Ipswich; Its Shipping and Trades by Richard W Smith and Jill Freestone

This book has been a 12-year labour of love for the two authors, who both grew up within sight, sound and smell of the Ipswich Docks and River Orwell. Both Richard and Jill have vivid childhood memories of the paddle steamers, sailing barges, mills, and cranes that typified the working port and have compiled these, along with their research, into the magnificent 382-page book telling the story of 150 years of the working port, incidents on the Orwell in both war and peace, and bringing to life characters, ferrymen as well as their dogs. 

This is an important book for those interested in the development of Ipswich or more generally in ports and shipping. Although the history of shipping in Ipswich dates to Saxon times, this book deals with the past two centuries. This is a period that saw the town’s engineering companies, based around the Dock, grow to have worldwide fame and then decline; a period that started with sail, went on to steam and ended up with a ‘Waterfront’ jangling with moored pleasure yachts.

The book is beautifully illustrated by photographs brought together by the authors including several from our Image Archive.

Ipswich: A Hanseatic Port by Pat Grimwade

First prepared as an Occasional Paper by Pat Grimwade at the invitation of the Ipswich Maritime Trust, it soon became clear that the topic was of such importance that it should be published as a full colour booklet. Ipswich was a major Hanseatic port in the 14th – 15th centuries when it was trading with many cities around the North Sea and the Baltic, but little about that period has been available to the general reader apart from one or two academic volumes. In 2017 Ipswich applied for membership of the New Hanse League ( which special status has entitled it to share its trading history with over a hundred continental cities and to participate in New Hanse activities.This illustrated booklet is unique and the first of its kind that focuses on a time of huge prosperity for Ipswich, that hasn’t been researched or written in depth before about Ipswich’s role within the Hanseatic League.