After spending a week in Bristol during November. I was surprised to realise how similar the paths of that city and our county town have travelled over the centuries. Both started as Anglo-Saxon settlements up a river a fair distance from the sea. In the 1800s both established enclosed areas of water for the purpose of improving continuous trade. Bristol with its 'Floating Harbour' and Ipswich its lock-gated dock and both have redeveloped their harbour areas calling them .The Waterfront'.
Centuries earlier both had spawned merchants who were great traders and became rich men, sending their ships to far away ports in search of trade. One big difference was that Bristol grew very wealthy on the horrific slave trade and looked towards Africa and the Caribbean. From the late 1700s onwards they both gave birth to many world renowned companies. Bristol's name being on Fry's chocolate, ground breaking ship building and, much later, Bristol aeroplanes. Meanwhile Ipswich was also becoming famous for manufacturing, with Ransome Sims & Jefferies, Ransome & Rapier, Fison's fertilisers, high class provisions from Burton Son & Sanders and Pretty's produced corsets by the thousand.
The difference now is that Bristol has a large recently opened Museum celebrating the amazing things that have happened during the life of the city; it is on the Waterfront in an old quay shed called the M Shed.
Returning home, I can only dream that one day my town will have such a museum where schoolchildren, tourists and locals can learn about the equally amazing town that stands at the head of the Orwell before all the artefacts and personal stories are lost. Such a museum would hopefully complement our existing excellent museums but tell the continuous story of the town and its achievements.
Editor: our Museum could have been The Gipeswic Centre, as Peter Underwood originally envisaged it.