Round-up of 2021

We finished our round up of 2020 with a mention to COVID-19 and the affects it has had on Ipswich Maritime Trust, our volunteers, members, and supporters. We thought that 2021 would be a year of moving past and trying to live with the aftermath of the lockdowns and effects of the virus.

A Calm and Sunny Ipswich Waterfront in 2021

Yet our lives were again disrupted significantly in 2021 and as we write this COVID-19 restrictions are still being discussed. Though much of what we planned did come to fruition in some way and have continued to support Maritime Ipswich through another interrupted year and have done some great things that we are very proud of.

Many of our planned events such as the Ipswich Maritime Festival, Heritage Open Days were cancelled, but we have been able to adapt and are entering 2022 with our focus on Supporting Maritime Ipswich still strong.

So, as we enter 2022, we thought we would leave you all with a round-up of 2021.

COVID-19 Restrictions – Restrictions were a big part of all our lives for the first few months of 2021 and again for the safety of us all, we paused all our work, cancelled our Spring events moving these online and hoped like everyone that again by the summer we would have fewer restrictions. We had our AGM virtually and continued having virtual Trustee Committee meetings. Our work focussed on the planning of our summer barge trips, research projects and planning for and welcoming new volunteers. We kept the social aspect of our volunteer teams going through virtual meetings and social distanced outdoor meetings.

Richard W Smith Award 2021 – Due to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020, the Sailing Barge Victor, an Ipswich Icon, was to have a busy summer sailing season entertaining hundreds of people. But unfortunately, Victor spent 2020 like the rest of us in lockdown, moored up on the Common Quay. It has survived the pandemic like it has the last 125 through the dedication and hard work of its skipper and crew.

As such we unveiled David ‘Wes’ Westwood as the recipient of the 2021 ‘Richard W Smith Memorial Award’. Wes is a larger-than-life character who goes out of his way to help with both his knowledge and his extensive maritime network. A labour of love, the economics of running a barge are always borderline. Victor’s continued presence at the heart of Ipswich owes so much to Wes, his dedication and expertise. It was for all these reasons that we honoured him this year as recipient of the ‘Richard W Smith Memorial Award’.

David ‘Wes’ Westwood (left) receiving his award from IMT Chair Geoffrey Dyball (right)

Fire Boats in the Wet Dock Research – During some ongoing research about fire fighting around the Wet Dock, we were contacted by Peter Clements trying to find some information about his father who was killed while firefighting in Ipswich Dock in 1941. Peter’s father, whose bravery and dedication during his time as a member of the AFS fireboats during the Second World War are an Ipswich war story like no other.

Peter visited with some of his family, and we met on his yacht close to the location his father would have been based during air raids. We shared some images we had loaned to our Image Archive of the fireboats and Peter was absolutely astounded as, not only did one of them show his father in a photograph he had never seen before, but he had many times moored his yacht in Ipswich Haven Marina at the spot where his father had been killed. Peter’s father is in the centre of this group on the deck of a Wet Dock fireboat that took a direct hit during an air raid in April 1941 while moored on Tovells Wharf.

Peter shared with us further photos and the steering wheel from the wreck of the fireboat that his father crewed and was killed on. This wheel was presented to the Clements family with a plaque that Peter shared proudly with us, a skilled and experienced mariner in his own right. There is much more to this story and of the Ipswich Dock Fire Brigade; both are being researched further. This is just one of many instances where our Image Archive has been able to help people with their research and we are grateful for all the people who donate their images for inclusion in the Image Archive. It is another reason so many of our volunteer’s love researching Maritime Ipswich to share interesting and sometimes harrowing stories to share and celebrate people’s lives and stories.

Ipswich’s Fire Boat crew c.1941 – Peter’s father is the friendly chap in the centre – IMT Image Archive

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, restrictions again forced those earlier in the year online and we were worried we would have to cancel our Barge Trips again too, which help support the Sailing Barge Victor. Although we had to reduce capacity and continue with COVID-19 safe measures on boards. We still had a successful and safe summer of barge trips. So, a big well done again to John and Bob for their hard work, who are planning our 2022 trips already.

Although we started the year again with virtual talks, we were this autumn able to have our talks back at the University of Suffolk, which many of our members were very pleased with. Our Barge Trips and Talks are enjoyed by many, and we will continue to do them for our members and supporters especially as we had numbers return to near pre covid levels, ensuring that we can continue offering them again in 2022. The health and safety of our volunteers, members and supporters is our top priority so we will continue to follow government guidance on all events. So please check our events page soon for information on our 2022 events.

New MarComms Volunteers – Our blog posts and articles are usually researched and written by our MarComms Lead Andy. Due to commitments at his fulltime job, he was unable to keep up with the increased workload he had taken on during the original lockdowns. As such we had several people come forward to help with the digital side of Ipswich Maritime Trust, something we plan to continue developing.

Ang and Jon who you may see helping Wes on the Sailing Barge Victor stepped forward to help run our Facebook page and have done incredibly well, growing our supporter base, and updating us all on the views of the Wet Dock from their dockside apartment. We also welcomed a recent graduate from the University of Suffolk to join us, Olly a graphic design graduate was looking to develop his skills volunteering over the summer. His skills and enthusiasm were fantastic to see, and he has helped us develop our brand which we hope to develop and grow further. One day the blue and white colours of Ipswich Maritime Trust will be a bigger brand for the town than Ipswich Town Football Club. Okay maybe not, but we can dream.

We are always looking for new volunteers to help across the organisation, to help research and write new articles about Maritime Ipswich, support our social media and website, and help Ipswich Maritime Trust grow as we enter our 40th year. 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. We are also exploring having an online shop, so if you had thoughts on this, or would like to get involved in its development and operation then please get in touch.

Window Museum – #MaritimeModels – Our Window Museum has again been a focus for our volunteers now with a team of 10 working hard throughout the year on different elements of our displays. We had originally planned to place the Maritime Models display in during the spring but due to restrictions and conflicting schedules we pushed it back to the autumn. This window was in memory of our friend, volunteer, and trustee Peter ‘Ben’ Bendall, who passed away in 2020 after suffering from a long-standing illness. We aimed to create a Window Museum exhibition that focussed on the models and dioramas he provided us over the years. We unveiled this to his wife, family and friends in September and will continue to use his models in future exhibitions.

Cornhill Cubes (October) – In the summer of 2019 working with Ipswich Central and Ipswich Vision we had a photographic display on the Cornhill that focussed on celebrating Ipswich’s rich maritime history. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons outside of our control this display was only in place for a few days. We worked hard again on developing this exhibition further with a focus towards St Clements Parish and Church, where many mariners and those involved in Maritime Ipswich lived and worked over the centuries. This exhibition was placed on the cubes under the Cornhill arches throughout October. We will now use this as the beginning of a new exhibition and display to be placed in St Clements Church in collaboration with the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust (IHCT).

Our 2019 Cornhill Cube Exhibition

End of Maritime Memoir Project – We unveiled our first attempt at a research project in 2020, titled Maritime Memoirs that aimed to preserve and share maritime stories before they are lost forever. We had some fantastic stories shared with us and after a year of submissions have formally closed the project and our curating the stories and images that we have into an anthology that we will place in our archive. You can find out more about the project on the Maritime Memoir Page. This project has taught us a lot already and we already keen to develop and back new projects to support Maritime Ipswich.

Image Archive Growth – Throughout 2021 our Image Archivist Stuart continued to work on our Image Archive, and we have again had lots of new donations and loans into the Image Archive, which we have added to our list of images to digitise and upload going forward. We have had many research queries again including for a project researching dredgers built on the River Severn. Which were used to help create the port at Buenos Aires, with one ending up back in Ipswich. This work is becoming ever more complex, and we are looking for more volunteers to help look after these images. Why not discover their stories, and help us digitise them.

eHive and Digitisation – A huge focus for us last year was our aim to increase access to our collection of physical artefacts and make them available to be viewed online. Our volunteers throughout 2021 have been gradually photographing the collection and entering details of each item onto e-Hive so anyone in the world can view them.

It has been a time-demanding task, but to date we have 250 items on-line and more are being added each month. To view the collection, visit our collection page and follow the link to view all that have been added so far. The system is used by many organisations around the world, and you will be amazed what you can discover. It is fair to say that the photographs are for record purposes and not high quality. Though for anyone researching something and need a particular detail of an object then please get in contact with us.

A taster of our collection on eHive

Teasers for 2022 – As with every year we are very excited for 2022, with plans to celebrate our 40th anniversary, expand and develop the organisation and spread the word about the Ipswich Maritime Trust to more people with more events planned. We hope to have some 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 our next display focusing on Ipswich’s Dock Railway. Which includes our first major exhibition partnership with Bury Model Railway Club and may feature the biggest image we have ever had printed for our displays.

As we reintroduced our popular evening talks during the winter, we hope for these to continue. Alongside a host of other events we will be in attendance of and our popular barge trips. We will also unveil the 3rd winner of our Richard Smith Memorial Prize in 2022 and continue our donations to local maritime causes especially those affected by the pandemic. Our collection digitisation project using eHive has been such a success over 2021. Our Accessions Officer Richard will continue to lead on this in 2022 to improve our profile and further our understanding of the collection.  

Thank you all for your support of Ipswich Maritime Trust. We hope you had an enjoyable festive period and hope to see more of you at our events this year.

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