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The new display illustrates the evolution of the barge from its earliest form through to its final form familiar to us today. The display also illustrates the ports to which they traded, from the far distant travels to such places as Remagen in Germany, Dunkirk in France, and Ramsgate and Southampton, to their more local landings on the farm wharfs and creeks of the Stour & Orwell. such as Johnny-all-alone and Slumpy Lane Wharf. It was in the local creeks that sadly many of the barges finished their lives and the display has relics of some barges include the splendidly named PRIDE OF IPSWICH. These relics are both a monument to the spritsail barge and a testimony to the forethought of those that save them.

Today the barges cargo is people and we are lucky that they still make an important contribution to Ipswich Waterfront.

IMT continues to support the barges with our various charter trips and our work on the Upper Orwell Crossing navigation working group.

click here to view previous window displays

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 museum@ipswichmaritimetrust.org.uk

The Opening Ceremony


Ipswich Sea Cadets in attendance

Capt Geoff Hartgrove

Chairman (2008-2013) of the Ipswich Maritime Trust

Our 16th Window Museum Exhibition

‘Thames Barges – Then and Now, Here, There and Everywhere’

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