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Newsletter, January 2010 (Issue 178)

Where/What is this Waterfront?

I'm sure Ipswich Society members could answer the question above - and perhaps wonder why it's even asked. But three seemingly trivial personal experiences prompt me to write.

Coming back from a nice lunch on the Waterfront and talking to a stranger on a bus I said how enjoyable it was that such a warm sunny day had made the Waterfront seem like the South of France. "You've been to Felixstowe, then?" "No, the Waterfront at the Dock."

"0, I see. The Dock. My father used to work there but I haven't been there for ages."

Next, overheard in Butter Market. A group of youngish men were enjoying their drinks outside and asked a red-coated Street Ranger what was worth seeing in Ipswich. The helpful answer was, "Well, you could walk down to the Waterfront. It's about twenty minutes from here." Twenty minutes! An able bodied person could do it easily in ten minutes; it's that close. But if you are only used to glimpsing the Waterfront from a car in Star Lane or Key Street/College Street it might seem a long way from the town centre! But it isn't!

Finally, and again overheard. Six young people were arriving on the quayside having walked down beside Salthouse Harbour Hotel. "Wow! Does this connect up with the sea? - spoken with an American accent. "I don't think so. It's been dug out so people can float their boats on it"- and that with a local accent! "I don't see the point of that," said the American, quite reasonably, as I walked away out of earshot. I hope our local man was a straight-faced leg-puller, but my impression was he didn't know! (A much more common mistake is to think that this is the river, when in fact the river by-passes the dock in the New Cut.)

Dance East and then next year the Witchbottle Theatre (Red Rose Chain at Regatta Quay) plus more restaurants and more coming and going of students will all help to bring the Waterfront into the public's consciousness. But at present this part of town hardly exists for many townspeople. Amongst the measures needed is a regular and frequent bus service linking the town centre with the Waterfront. My conclusion is that I do like the name 'Waterfront' but we shouldn't forget the word 'Dock'. Remember how many people still referred to our trolley buses as 'trams' right to the end!


    Front cover of issue 178 Cover, issue 178

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