The October Newsletter is always the most difficult the write; a lack of activity throughout July and August means that as we reach September (as I'm writing) there is little to report.
Not that we haven't been busy, for example putting Heritage Open Days together is an incredibly frustrating and at times annoying task. It seems as if almost every property ‘owner' wants to amend some minor detail of their entry. This frequently occurs when they've seen the printed copy of the booklet. ‘No, we can't reprint, nor correct every single one by hand or even insert an addendum slip'.
For example, an offshoot of the Felixstowe Society, Felixstowe Offshore Radio, held an event to mark fifty years since the Marine Offences Act effectively put an end to Radio London and the other offshore stations. Their initial intention was to unveil a commemorative stone at tea-time on September 9 but over the summer had decided to change the time to 2.30pm. Unfortunately, it was too late: the flyers had already been printed, the word was out and the public confused.
Neil Thompson, the new volunteer who has done the vast majority of the hard work for our Heritage Open Days is to be congratulated for his unassuming ability to stay calm when yet another email arrives.
In my research for the weekly column in the East Anglian Daily Times (occasionally repeated in the Ipswich Star) I started looking into coffee shops. Back in the nineteenth century they were meeting-houses where business between companies was discussed and agreed. Today it is the multiple outlet coffee shops which dominate, but what I wanted to know about was the cafés of the 1960s and 1970s and I was advised to talk to Bob Shelley. What an amazing life story Bob has to tell, one of rags-to-riches repeated and repeated again throughout his life. Not only did he own four well-known Ipswich cafés, The Nippin, Fore Snax, Jack's and one in the former Eagle Tavern in Wherstead Road, but he used his sporting contacts to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Bob also ran a taxi business, a security company, a Tonibell ice cream franchise and a bed & breakfast establishment (above Jack's Café) His greatest interest was, no doubt, sport: from boxing at Westbourne School to running the Arcade Boxing Club, to staging black tie boxing dinners at Copdock and commentating on the BBC.
His father was in the army and transferred between camps on a regular basis thus Bob didn't stay in a single school for more than eighteen months - not the best way to get an education. He cut his teeth in the catering business in Quick Snax in Norwich Road where he worked the late shift, serving customers until well past midnight. You can read about the café in a forthcoming EADT article.
It is perfectly understandable that Ipswich Borough Council should maximise the income from its assets. If central government grants are being reduced while the demands on public services continue to grow, then it's only natural that the Council should look elsewhere for income.
Some of the new income streams have not gone down well with the council tax payers. One large and brash example is ‘The Beach' - nothing more than a travelling fair that has stayed far too long in Christchurch Park. Yes it was themed around a pile of sand and a few deckchairs but it certainly upset regular park users. Being travelling showmen, they have the right to display posters around the town giving the populous notice of the forthcoming event. A number of Ipswich Society members felt that the proliferation of ‘Beach' posters was way beyond an acceptable limit.
This event will need careful review before it happens again.