Days Gone By: Memories of days out at the seaside in fantastic Felixstowe
Residents, holidaymakers and day-trippers have enjoyed the delights of being by the sea since Felixstowe was expanded during the Victorian and Edwardian period.
A reader, who now lives in Devon, has recalled getting there from her home in Ipswich by train, bus or bike, when relatively few families had a car.
Ena Eady remembers visits to Millar’s and the Regal Restaurants, then a special treat for children.
In the 1930s Billy Butlin opened an amusement park in Sea Road, which then included an island occupied by monkeys and a zoo, where later a dodgem track was built.
In 1946, the Manning family took over the park. In this weeks Days Gone By I feature pictures of the resort in the past, including some of the popular features at Manning’s, which have since been replaced.
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Ena Eady, wrote:I have many fond memories of Felixstowe dating back to the 1930s. Bank holidays would see crowds leaving the trains at Beach Road Station to spend a day on the beach. It often rained, but somehow we enjoyed ourselves and caught the packed train back to Derby Road Station, Ipswich, then the long walk home to Nacton Estate. The annual Sunday School outing was always an exciting day spent at Felixstowe. We would be transported there on Eastern Counties red buses, and the real highlight was going upstairs to have tea at the Regal Café; we children were not used to eating in places like this. In 1939, war came and our trips to the coast were stopped. By the time war was over and the beaches were clear once more, I was in my teens, out at work and the proud owner of a bicycle, so as a group of friends we used to ride our bikes to Felixstowe. It was before the A14 was built and the country route took us through Nacton, Levington, over the railway line and on to Trimley and Walton before arriving in Felixstowe. We left our cycles in the garage near the pier where they were safe until we went home. I remember the roller skating on Sunday afternoons on the rink near to Butlin’s (now Manning’s) amusements.
As we grew older the Pier Pavilion was our favourite venue for dancing. The big bands would play there regularly, it was magical. Many people met their
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husbands and wives in the ballrooms; I met my husband in the Pier Pavilion when the Ted Heath band was playing there. We girls caught the train from Derby Road all dressed up in our best dresses and high heeled shoes. If I remember rightly the return fare was nine old pence (roughly four pence today). If we hurried up Bent Hill after the dance we would be in time to buy a bag of chips before the shop closed at midnight. Then it was on to the last train back from the Town Station to Ipswich. Then as we married and had children it was still Felixstowe beach that we headed for, but by then we were all getting our first little cars. How lovely life was then. Bread rolls and cakes from Millar’s Café and trays of tea to take on the beach with real cups and saucers, tea leaves that were poured through a strainer. I moved away from Suffolk in 1961, but I still visited Felixstowe with my children, then later with my grandchildren. We hired beach huts and had some wonderful times. I loved to shop in the town. I have been there occasionally in latter years, but sadly it will never be the magical place for me it once was.
What memories do the photographs featured bring to you? Write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or send an e-mail.