We cannot mention 2020 without first mentioning COVID-19 or lockdowns. It has been a year like no other and has affected all of us in a variety of ways, including our volunteers, members and supporters. But we have tried our best to continue to support Maritime Ipswich through this unpredictable year and have done some fantastic things that we are very proud of.
Our wonderful team of volunteers and our Trustees have had to adapt, compromise and work harder to support Maritime Ipswich and keep the Ipswich Maritime Trust going during such a testing year. We have, like many organisations embraced virtual meetings, social distancing and much more. Many of our planned events and exhibitions were cancelled or delayed, but we have been able to adapt very well and are entering 2021 with more planned, despite potential future lockdowns. So, as we enter the final days of this year, we thought we would leave you all with a round-up of 2020.
Loss of Ben – In February we started the year in a tough way, our friend, volunteer and trustee Peter ‘Ben’ Bendall, passed away after suffering from a long-standing illness. His loss was still a shock for us, as Ben was close to us all. In memory of all the work he provided us we aimed to create a Window Museum exhibition focussed on the models and dioramas he provided us over the years. However due to the current COVID-19 restrictions this has been moved to 2021.
The First Lockdown – The first national lockdown was a shock but necessary for the safety of us all. So, we paused all our work, cancelled our Spring events and hoped like everyone that by the summer we would be back to normal. This was not the case as we have found out during the rest of this year. With our AGM in April cancelled and Trustee Committee meetings paused, most work was focussed on the website, research and planning on what to do next. We eventually started monthly virtual meetings of our Trustee committee and weekly meetings of our volunteer team the Window Wizards. As much as to keep the social aspect of the team going as the work of the team. Slowly throughout lockdown we developed new ways of communicating with our members and supporters and researched more Occasional Papers. We also started to think about ways to make some of our events over the summer COVID-19 secure and deciding on when we could install our 20th Window Museum exhibition.
Richard W Smith Memorial Prize – One of the things we hoped to unveil at our 2020 AGM was our new Richard W Smith Memorial Prize, we unfortunately couldn’t do this face to face. So, we awarded this via email to the recipient Robert Malster and hope that we can award the 2021 prize in person.
Website – Our new website has been live since 2019 and during the lockdown our Trustee and Social Media Co-ordinator Andy started writing weekly blog posts and posting more on social media to keep our members and supporters involved with Maritime Ipswich. It also gave Andy something to focus on during lockdown and has led to some great stories and our Maritime Memoir Project. Our blog posts and articles are posted regularly and Andy is always looking for new volunteers to help research and write new articles about Maritime Ipswich, so do get in contact if you are interested. Feel free to explore the website and let us know your comments on our articles too as we are always looking to grow and develop the website going forward.
Events and Barge Trips – For many years we have been organising talks and barge trips that many of our members enjoy, this year was no different. However, the lockdown cancelled all our talks and we were worried we would have to cancel our Barge Trips too, which help support the Sailing Barge Victor. Although we had to cancel a few trips and had to implement COVID-19 secure guidelines to make our trips safe and limit numbers. We still had a successful and safe summer of barge trips. So, a big well done to John and Bob for their hard work, who are planning our 2021 trips already.
Although we were to have a variety of talks at the University of Suffolk this year, we trialled virtual talks on Zoom in December. Which went very well and which we are looking to continue doing in 2021.
Our Barge Trips and Talks are enjoyed by many and we will continue to do them for our members and supporters. While following the most up to date government advice to keep our volunteers, members and supporters safe. So do check our events page soon for our 2021 events.
Window Museum – #DevelopmentoftheDock – Our Window Museum continues to go from strength to strength and this year we installed our 20th exhibition. Despite a delay due to the first lockdown and social distancing our newest display #DevelopmentoftheDock is viewable to all. We aim to rotate exhibitions every 6 months or so but due to the lockdowns this was unfeasible. As such our 19th display ended up being on display for 15 months, our longest exhibition to date. The work our Window Wizard Volunteer Team have also done this year to organise and sort our Conservation Containers, plan exhibitions, and create a maritime reference library for our research volunteers is fantastic. The team, going forward, have plans to conduct a collection review in 2021 as the first stage in digitising our physical collection onto eHive. If you are interested in getting involved with our collections care volunteer team, please do get in touch with us.
Maritime Memoir Project – Following discussions during the first lockdown to preserve and share maritime stories before they are lost forever, we started the Maritime Memoir Project to collect, store and share these stories. We have already had some amazing stories shared with us and cannot wait for more submissions. Find out more on the Maritime Memoir Page and get involved to keep these stories about Maritime Ipswich alive.
Image Archive Growth – Throughout 2021 our Image Archivist Stuart has continued to work on our Image Archive, and we have added several new collections both donated and on loan into the Image Archive, which we aim to digitise and upload going forward. This work is becoming more and more complex and we are looking for more volunteers to help look after these images, discover their stories and help digitise and look after them.
Partnerships – We have continued to work hard with a variety of local organisations on local maritime matters, research, exhibitions and project, developing even stronger partnerships again this year. These range from the Ipswich Society, The Hold (Suffolk Record Office) and the River Gipping Trust, plus many more. Do check out their websites for their latest news.
Historic Quay and Wharf Nameplates – For many years we have been keen to see the historic quay and wharf names re-instated, rather than see developers choose their own names, which have often been irrelevant to the history of the Wet Dock. This year we were successful, and we have worked closely with Ipswich Borough Council to have several street nameplates installed along the waterfront, including Albion Wharf, Wherry Quay and Neptune Quay. We are also working closely with the Ipswich Society to add informal nameplates to even older quays such as Common Quay, which cannot be formally recognised by Ipswich Borough Council as they pre-date the modern postal code system. To find out more about the Historic Quays and Wharves do check out our Occasional Paper on the subject.
Teasers for 2021 – We are very excited for 2021 with new volunteers starting with us and the opportunity for many more people to get involved to help support Maritime Ipswich. Our Window Museum volunteers continue to plan next year’s display focusing on the contribution of former Window Wizard and Trustee Ben. We are also working in partnership to support the celebrations of Thomas Slade (designer of HMS Victory) as well as developing more virtual talks, events and barge trips. We will also unveil the winner of our Richard W Smith Memorial Prize for 2021 and continue our donations to local maritime causes especially those affected by the pandemic. Our collection digitisation project using eHive will be a big focus for 2021 as well as developing new exhibitions in partnership with lots of wonderful organisations.
Thank you all for your support of the Ipswich Maritime Trust this year. We wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you all stay safe over the New Year, and we will see you in 2021.