It is ten years since the Ipswich Maritime Window Museum opened to the public as a 24/7 Museum. Possibly a unique type of Museum; one certainly special enough to warrant a feature in the International Congress of Maritime Museums’ Newsletter where the feature on it was bigger than the expansion of the ship model display at Chatham Historic Dockyard.
During the past ten years, all aspects of Ipswich’s maritime history, culture and heritage have been covered, with nineteen differing displays, including; Barges; Boat, Ship & Yacht Building; Trade; Port Changes & Expansion. The current display celebrates another anniversary: eighty years since the Abraham Rydberg brought her cargo of grain from Australia to Ipswich on what was to be termed the ‘Last Grain Race’. The display celebrates her final visit, along with the many other great sailing ships that carried their precious cargo around the globe to Ipswich before World War II.
Using the power of wind and ocean current alone, the crews of these magnificent square-rigged ships competed to be the winner of the ‘Great Grain Race’ by completing their course to the UK in the fastest overall time. Over the years, many of these sailing ships brought their cargo to Cranfields Flour Mill at the head of the dock, to the very site of the Ipswich Maritime Trust Window Museum. As a reminder of the perilous nature of the voyage these ships undertook, the display incudes a model of the Herzogin Cecilie that was lost in April 1936 – having made the fastest passage of the year – off the south coast of Devon, on her way to discharge her cargo of wheat at Ipswich. Luckily there was no loss of life, but she was a total write-off and was sold for scrap.
Des Pawson MBE, Vice Chairman IMT
Photograph by Stuart Grimwade