I visited the Port of Ipswich recently. This started at the Old Customs House, a well-known Ipswich landmark, and was surprised to find that so much went on behind the dock gate, which is less well known.

The Old Customs House is Grade II listed and is now the main office of Associated British Ports (ABP) in Ipswich. It is a magnificent building, which has a great view over the Waterfront, including the marina.  ABP wish to remodel the two marinas now that they own both.  Their initial proposal was to move all the pontoons and boats to the far side of the harbour, which was not universally popular.  The pontoons do need to be replaced, which is a multi-million-pound investment. I believe that ABP have revisited their plans and a new proposal will be submitted for planning permission shortly, with boats on both sides of the harbour.

The Port of Ipswich is situated at the head of the River Orwell, twelve miles from the open sea and handles two million tonnes of cargo per year. It is the UK’s leading grain export port and handles a range of other products such as fertiliser, cement and aggregates.

Moving along the quay, the first part of the commercial port is the timber yards. Anglo Norden import timber from Scandinavia, which has been a common sight for years.

However, it’s when you go further down the quay, the part that is closed to the public, that the breadth of port activity is on show. I am impressed by their new cranes, which cost £1.5million each. They can lift several tonnes in a single bucket-load. The latest ones are electric powered.

It’s all about bulk at this end: grain, rice, cement, fertilizer and aggregates. Ships up to 15000 tons deliver the bulk goods, though most are around 5000 tons. Cement and fertilizer are bagged up at the port, in different buildings, ranging from 25Kg bags for the retail market up to 1 tonne for industrial use.

Aggregates come from Northern Ireland, where they are quarried, or from dredging in the North Sea. The port has the facilities to sift and grade the aggregate into the sizes demanded by industry.

The Port of Ipswich has identified a 15-acre site on their West bank for storing the bulky building materials needed for the construction of Sizewell C. Sizewell C’s transport strategy is for 60% of material to be delivered via sea and rail in order to take pressure off Suffolk’s road network and reduce freight movements around local towns and villages.

Moving building materials in and out of Ipswich by rail or sea should be welcomed, as it will be much better than moving them by road.

I was very pleased to see that the viewpoint at Griffin Wharf is now open. This gives very good views down the Orwell. It has some temporary fencing at present, to prevent people walking on the railway line, which will be needed for moving those Sizewell building materials.

Ipswich has been awarded Heritage Harbour status this year, recognising our maritime history and endorsing our future plans. Only eleven other ports in the UK have been given this honour, which is something to celebrate and be proud of.

The old port and new port of Ipswich dovetail together to showcase heritage and innovation, industry and recreation, boats and buildings.

The port was the reason that Ipswich was established here and its good to see that it is still has a significant place in the town.
















































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