Suffolk

Ipswich photo archive shows changing face of town

Falcon Street, Ipswich, circa 1966 Image copyright Ipswich Society
Image caption "Beer, fags and gambling": The photo of the Falcon Street/St Nicholas Street junction from the 1960s is Tony Marsden's favourite from the archive

An eight-year project to digitise 6,000 photos has provided an insight into how Ipswich has changed over the years.

The Ipswich Society started the "immense task" of transferring its slides in 2006 and is continuing to add to its archive on Flickr.

Tony Marsden, vice-chairman of the society, said the "dynamic" collection documented a changing landscape.

"There's a certain poignancy to the collection. The photos evoke another world," he said.

"Ipswich has got a very colourful and varied history."

Image copyright Ipswich Society

Several of the modern day photos have been taken to provide a comparison of how certain areas of the town have been transformed. The Electric House is shown above in 1977, when it was home to Radio Orwell and overlooked celebrations for the Queen's Silver Jubilee visit to Ipswich.

Norman Foster's Willis building is one of the modern architectural highlights of Ipswich. The Ipswich Society's photos show how the site used to house a shoe shop.

Image copyright Ipswich Society

Mr Marsden said some of the comparison photos illustrated change is not always for the best.

"When you think about what's replaced some of the buildings, that's when the guilt creeps in," he said. "There are several regrets about what has happened, especially during the '60s."

Image copyright Ipswich Society

Photos of the waterfront, which is still being developed, show how the area's industrial heart has been replaced by housing and retail outlets.

Mr Marsden said he recently gave a talk on the archive and was "astonished" by how it prompted people's memories, and the stories which followed.

Image copyright Ipswich Society

He said he hoped people would find the archive a "tremendous diversion".

"I find myself looking at them and an hour later my coffee has gone cold," he said.

His favourite of the collection is the photo showing the billboards on the corner of Falcon Street, with the women in short skirts and the vehicles helping to provide an evocative snapshot of the period.

"That is an absolute masterpiece," he said.

"You've got beer, fags and gambling. It's such a telling shot of the 1960s, it's brilliant."

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