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Ipswich Airport

Tuesday 16th February 2016

The talk was given by John Griffiths of Ipswich Transport Museum and was a comprehensive account of the history of Ipswich Airport. John began his talk in 1912 before Ipswich even had an airport discussing touring showmen that brought their aircraft to Ipswich, the role of Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries during the first world war manufacturing warplanes. The airport was opened in 1930 and John discussed the process and opening, the buildings and facilities. The talk continued through the 1930s with the events and changes up to the outbreak of world war 2. During the war the site was requisitioned by the government and Ipswich airport became a satellite airport for Wattisham, John discussed the role that Ipswich airport took during the war and just after. John then moved on to discussing the 1950s, the airport having largely fallen into disuse by 1951 but in 1953 East Anglian Flying Services took out a long term lease. This enabled them to run an international passenger service from Ipswich under the name Channel Airways. John discussed their activities and those of other businesses trading from the airport including an aircraft component manufacturer and a crop spraying company using helicopters. During the 1960s John discussed the significant upgrades to the airport following Channel airways being granted a 21 year lease and Channel Airways continued activity at the airport. John moved on to the 1970s and the demise of Channel Airways in 1973 having now become economically unviable. During the 1970s Ipswich airport had two flying schools operating from it and John discussed their activities and those of other businesses on the site. Following on with the problems of the lease ownership which John discussed having changed twice in the late 1970s and the various plans to build large grocery stores on the site. Flying continued and in the early 1980s a parachuting club also began trading and flying from the airport. John then went on to discuss the short return to Ipswich having a scheduled airline operating from it again in the form of Suckling Airways. Also the arrival of a helicopter training school, John continued his talk through the 1990s and the councils plans to develop the airport site for housing which were ultimately realised with the closure of the airport in 1996 and the emergence of the Ravenswood housing estate thereafter which is still growing in size today. John finished his talk with the customary question and answer session.

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