A much-written-about historical period, the Victorian era heralded great change across the United Kingdom.  

The Victorian age (1837 to 1901) remains synonymous with the Industrial Revolution and saw vast technological improvements sweep the globe, as well as great changes in the political and social spheres. 

One of the most memorable historic souvenirs left behind in Suffolk are some of the county’s piers.  

As laws came into force and people began taking more time off (thanks to legislation such as the 1871 Bank Holidays Act), one popular type of break was the British seaside getaway – and Suffolk has its fair share of resorts that are still popular in the 21st century. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Lowestoft's South PierLowestoft's South Pier (Image: Archant Archives)

The archetypal British pier was a mainstay of Victorian leisure culture, with two of our county’s structures tracing their roots back to the 19th century. Lowestoft's South Pier dates back to 1846 and measures an impressive 1,320ft thanks to engineer William Cubbitt. When first opened it was described as ‘one of the finest and most extensive promenades on the coast, combined with marine views of the greatest variety and beauty’.  

Slightly further down the coast is Southwold Pier, constructed in 1900 by W Jefferey. Originally measuring 810ft, it was built as a landing stage for the Belle steamships that travelled from London Bridge. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Construction of Southwold PierConstruction of Southwold Pier (Image: Keiron Tovell/Archant Archives)

And if you’re wondering why Felixstowe Pier isn’t mentioned, that’s because it didn’t open until 1905 and is therefore actually part of Edwardian rather than Victorian England.  

But Felixstowe does proudly claim some Victorian seaside heritage, thanks to its wonderfully colourful beach huts that date back to the 19th century.  

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Forty-four of them were once dotted along the town’s Spa Pavilion, tracing their roots back to 1834, meaning they are likely to be the oldest in the country and the second oldest in the world. However at the end of last year, the beach huts were moved and relocated from their famed spot due to coastal erosion.  

East Anglian Daily Times: A Blue Plaque commemorating Felixstowe's Victorian era beach hutsA Blue Plaque commemorating Felixstowe's Victorian era beach huts (Image: Archant)

During the Victorian era, one of Suffolk’s biggest and proudest exports was also established: Adnams. The world-famous brewery as founded in 1872 after brothers George and Ernest Adnams purchased Southwold’s Sole Bay Brewery. In the centuries since its inception, Adnams has gone on to produce a variety of well-loved beers, ales, ciders, and even wines and spirits now.  

East Anglian Daily Times: Ernest Adnams (lower right)Ernest Adnams (lower right) (Image: Adnams)

Other Suffolk companies that thrived during the Victorian period include Ransomes & Rapier, a major British railway equipment and crane manufacturer which was in operation between 1869 and 1987. Formed by James Allen Ransome, Robert James Ransome, Richard Christopher Rapier, and Arthur Alec Bennett, it was an offshoot of the Ransomes engineering company, and was based at Ipswich’s Waterside Works.  

And of course, who could forget the East Anglian Daily Times? The paper was first published on October 13, 1874, incorporating the Ipswich Express.

Over in Bury St Edmunds, evidence of Victorian legacy can be seen to this day, thanks to a stained glass window that Queen Victoria had fitted in St Mary’s Church in order to commemorate Mary Tudor, Queen of France’s death after her interment.  

And if it’s impressive 19th century architecture you’re after, look no further than Bury St Edmunds’ railway station which was designed by famed architect Frederick Barnes and formally inaugurated in November 1847. The red brick station building is Grade II-listed (as is the semi-elliptical brick arch bridge over Northgate Road, which lies to the east of the station).  

Other impressive structures that Barnes designed during the Victorian period include the Old Town Hall in Needham Market, Woodbridge railway station, and the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Ipswich’s Museum Street. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Snape Maltings today, as seen from aboveSnape Maltings today, as seen from above (Image: Rob Atherton/Getty Images)

One of my personal favourite remnants of Victorian England in Suffolk however has to be Snape Maltings. Construction began on the complex in 1846 after industrial entrepreneur Newson Garrett purchased the busy Snape Bridge shopping port five years prior. 

Throughout the 19th century, Snape Maltings expanded as the demand for malt barley increased. This part of Suffolk thrived so much, a purpose-built branch of the East Suffolk railway line was constructed, with trains running three times a day between 1859 and 1960. At its industrial peak, it was comprised of seven acres’ worth of buildings and was one of the largest flat floor maltings in England. However, industrial activity ceased at Snape Maltings by 1965. 

Today, Snape Maltings is best known for its prestigious concert hall, and home of the annual Aldeburgh Music Festival (founded by composer Benjamin Britten, singer Peter Pears, and librettist and producer Eric Crozier.