The new Window Museum display on Albion Quay is a selection from Des and Liz Pawson’s ‘Museum of Knot’s and Sailor’s Ropework’ which was opened in 1996.
The intention of the museum was to recognise the art and skills of ropework. The collection includes old and recent ropework and many examples of old tools of the rope and canvas working trades so vital for sailing ships. Ipswich, like many similar maritime towns, would have many Rope Walks where ropes were made for both local and visiting vessels.
Des said: “It is hoped that by bringing together all these things, the world will better appreciate the history and skills used in creating such items which have not often been valued, exhibited or studied. The pinnacle of the use of knots and rope can be seen in the work done by sailors, both practical and decorative. In many ways rope and knots can be considered the building blocks of civilisation.
Des, a world-renowned authority on ropework and an author, has been consulted on for films, television programmes and many matters where an expert opinion is required.
The opening of Ipswich’s new Window Museum on Albion Quay means that the town’s rich maritime heritage can at last be properly recognised and displayed.
Since 1982, when the Trust was formed to help bring the Waterfront back to life from its gradual decline, there has been a growing call for such a museum, and now, through a unique collaboration between the developers of the Mill, Wharfside Regeneration, and the Trust, this has finally been achieved.
The Museum was officially opened by Capt. Jim Lawrence in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress on 13th September 2009, and is the first of a planned five display windows, which will together form the Museum. Capt. Lawrence, himself a renowned barge skipper and sailmaker, described the importance of the town’s maritime heritage stretching back through the centuries to its the Anglo-Saxon roots – as the Museum itself proclaims – ‘Ipswich has been a Seaport since the 7th Century’. Jim presented the Trust with the splendid banner seen in the picture below, which had been kindly made and donated by James Lawrence Sailmakers Ltd.
The Trust is currently preparing a full accredited Accessions Register of its Archive, and a summary will appear on this page once completed. Regular updates will then be added.
The Museum display is open to view by the public at all times, and the local exhibits will be regularly changed. The Trust’s Window Museum second display is now installed, this time featuring sailing barges and aspects of local traditional boatbuilding
The Window Museum is easy to find along the quay between Stoke Bridge and the Old Custom House, and the Trust has enhanced the newly surfaced quay by reinstating traditional barge mooring rings, so that historic vessels can once again moor at the head of the Dock.
If members of the public would like to help the Trust in this exciting project to save and display the town maritime heritage, it is hoped that they will contact Des Pawson MBE on 01473 690090, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ipswich Sea Cadets in attendance
Capt Geoff Hartgrove
Chairman (2008-2013) of the Ipswich Maritime Trust