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Do you remember when Ipswich had an airport?

PUBLISHED: 14:26 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:00 28 September 2018

Auster Autocrat outside terminal  Picture: COURTESY OF  IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

Auster Autocrat outside terminal Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

It was once Ipswich’s gateway to the world, with a remarkable war-fighting history to boot.

Busy day on the apron in the 1990s Picture: COURTESY OF  IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATIONBusy day on the apron in the 1990s Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

But even though there is now a generation that may not even be aware the town once had its own airport, a small band of enthusiasts who fought for it to stay open are today keeping its memory alive.

The decision to close Ipswich Airport in 1996 sparked a huge public outcry, with demonstrations, public meetings and “save the airport” posters plastered across the town.

It then became the “airport that refused to close” when, the day after it closed on December 31 1996, light aircraft flew in from all over in country in defiance of the closure.

It started what became known as the “occupation of Ipswich Airport”, with airport staff and residents taking turns to guard the site day and night for four and a half months.

Damage from Great Storm of 1987  Picture: COURTESY OF  IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATIONDamage from Great Storm of 1987 Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

Now the Ipswich Airport Association will remember the popular site with a commemorative event and annual reunion on Saturday, September 29 at the Ipswich Transport Museum.

Running between 1pm and 4pm, the event will feature a display of photos, press cuttings and memorabilia about the site, which has since become the Ravenswood housing estate.

Ipswich Airport Association members will be on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions.

During its 67-year history the airport was home to airlines, air taxi firms, flying schools, private aircraft and a parachute club, as well as serving as an RAF base during the Second World War.

Flying Flea from 1937  Picture: COURTESY OF  IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATIONFlying Flea from 1937 Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

It even launched a daily flight to Clacton in 1938 which took just 15mins and welcomed royal passengers and celebrities.

In later years, Suckling Airways ran services to Amsterdam and Manchester.

The idea for the airport was first put forward by the Air Ministry in October 1928, when it said “every town of importance would have an airport just like it had roads and a railway station”.

Its total cost, including the land, was £13,245.

Dakota in October 1986  Picture: COURTESY OF  IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATIONDakota in October 1986 Picture: COURTESY OF IPSWICH AIRPORT ASSOCIATION

It became an airbase with Spitfires and Blenheim Bombers during the war

Admission to Saturday’s event is £5 for adults and £3.50 for children. This includes light refreshments and access to all parts of the museum.

What are your memories of Ipswich Airport? Write, giving your full contact details, to andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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