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Wherry Quay | by Simon_K
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Wherry Quay

Wet Dock, Ipswich, Suffolk


When I moved to Ipswich in 1985, the Wet Dock was a hive of industrial activity. Factories along the waterfront included Pauls, who made animal feed, Cranfields, who malted barley and milled cereals, and Burtons, who somewhat surreally made Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels.


There were also the warehouses of ECF, the Eastern Counties Farmers collective, Anglo-Norden, the timber importers, and Fisons, the fertiliser manufacturers. Many of them used the former buildings of Ransomes Orwell Works, which once employed 12,000 people. My grandad worked there in the 1930s.


The only one of these to survive today is Anglo-Norden, and almost all the warehouses and factories have gone, to be replaced by apartment blocks, restaurants, bars, and, on the Island, luxury yacht manufacturers.


The Wet Dock itself was home to huge cargo ships. Some flew the flag of Holland, and carried goods back and forward across the North Sea. Some were German, and took the malted barley to be made into Beck's Lager. Most mysterious of all were the big Russian ships in the days before the Iron Curtain fell, bringing timber and taking home wheat.


Today, the dock is mostly full of yachts. All the industrial activity at Ipswich Docks is now outside the lock gates, on Cliff Quay and the West Bank. The last factory on the Wet Dock closed in 2003. All the old Ransomes warehouses have been demolished. A new city is arising along the waterfront, and will be home to well over 10,000 people. It is the biggest single building project in the east of England.


I am fortunate that this is all happening at the bottom of my road, and I cycle along the waterfront at least twice a day. There is plenty to photograph, and everything changes quickly. It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out.

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Uploaded on September 18, 2008