As part of Suffolk Walking Festival in May, Ipswich Tourist Guides contributed eight guided walks to encourage visitors to Ipswich. Themes included The French Connection and History & Art in Ravenswood as well as my personal contribution Tales from the River Bank. During preparation for the walk I was reminded of two things that I would like to share with Society members.
Back in 1999 the River Action Group (RAG) published its vision and strategy of a 'River for All' stating that "by 2010 there will be a wide, green, lively well-used river corridor at the heart of Ipswich". RAG was chaired by Tom Gondris, a stalwart of so many local organisations including the Ipswich Society, and supported by volunteers from other interested groups - Ipswich Wildlife Group and the Greenways project to name but two. My walk in mid-May included the section of river from Yarmouth Road to Stoke Bridge and it was with immense pride that I was able to demonstrate to our visitors (and some locals) that this vision has been very successfully achieved. The river bank looks beautiful: wild flowers, butterflies and birds abound and we met very many people walking and cycling along the well maintained paths. This truly is a 'River for All' and we can now enjoy the benefits of hours of work put in by volunteers over the last fifteen years.
My walk also included a look at Alderman Canal, again managed by volunteers, and close by I discovered a mystery which perhaps a Society member might be able to answer. In the 1990s Ipswich was one of seven towns to receive EU funding to develop a 'shared space' scheme on Handford Road. The idea, pioneered in Holland, was that roads should be shared with no particular hierarchy of users i.e. pedestrians should have similar priorities to car drivers. With hindsight, perhaps Handford Road was not a good choice for this sort of scheme. More recent schemes are now working well, for example Oxford Circus in London and, locally, parts of Ravenswood estate.
At the Handford Road entrance to Alderman Road recreation ground is an information board explaining the scheme. It also describes the adjacent artwork, funded as part of the work as follows:-
"The local and natural history of the area have inspired the design and artwork of this project. Within the triangular meadow the orchard trees ripple above a carpet of ground lights outlining the delicate shape of a dragonfly's wing. The lighting spells out a poetic message relating to the dragonfly in dot dash components of Morse Code."
Unfortunately, the lighting component has suffered much over the intervening years and my attempt to decipher the words was not entirely successful. The first two lines are reasonably complete - I have 'Dancing' (alongside path) followed by 'Rainbow', the fourth line may be 'Aged'. Can anyone help, please? Answers on a postcard via the editor would be much appreciated.
Margaret recently spotted a kingfisher over the river between Stoke and Princes Street bridges. -Ed.