Search

Days Gone By - Having a splashing time at Suffolk raft races through the years

PUBLISHED: 11:42 06 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 06 June 2020

Thousands packed the beach at Felixstowe for the annual Round Table raft race in 1987 Picture: ARCHANT

Thousands packed the beach at Felixstowe for the annual Round Table raft race in 1987 Picture: ARCHANT

The smiling faces in our gallery of raft race photos say it all.

Thorpeness Raft Race in 1977 Picture: ARCHANTThorpeness Raft Race in 1977 Picture: ARCHANT

It’s plain to see just how much fun has been had by crews and onlookers alike at raft races around Suffolk and north Essex over the decades.

Raft Race from Woodbridge to Felixstowe  September 1981 Picture: ARCHANTRaft Race from Woodbridge to Felixstowe September 1981 Picture: ARCHANT

Our photos include rafts of all kinds of designs, shapes and sizes taking to the water.

Intense action from the Thorpeness Raft Race as teams raced in homemade rafts on the waters in 1980  Picture: JOHN KERRIntense action from the Thorpeness Raft Race as teams raced in homemade rafts on the waters in 1980 Picture: JOHN KERR

Thorpeness Meare was one of the most iconic locations, with an annual raft race which attracted teams from many local pubs.

Southwold Raft Race in September  1986 Picture: ARCHANTSouthwold Raft Race in September 1986 Picture: ARCHANT

The event was held for several years in the 1970s and 80s, with teams taking along their homemade craft.

Competitors at the Stowmarket ICI raft race in April 1981. Picture: ARCHANTCompetitors at the Stowmarket ICI raft race in April 1981. Picture: ARCHANT

As the 64-acre lake is shallow, it was no problem if anyone ended up in the water during the event.

Eyke Raft Race

 in September  1986 Picture: ARCHANTEyke Raft Race in September 1986 Picture: ARCHANT

Felixstowe’s raft race, between the pier and the Spa Pavilion, was also a very popular events, with large crowds turning out to line the shore.

An 

Essex team taking part in the raft race from Woodbridge to Felixstowe in 

September 1981 Picture: ARCHANTAn Essex team taking part in the raft race from Woodbridge to Felixstowe in September 1981 Picture: ARCHANT

After our previous nostalgia gallery featuring Felixstowe raft race, reader Jane Kirk wrote in to say: “Quite by chance I had dug out some old family photos the day before.

Messing about on the river at the Bures raft race in 1984 Picture: ARCHANTMessing about on the river at the Bures raft race in 1984 Picture: ARCHANT

“The photo I am sending you is of my daughter Clare Carver sitting on the raft of the British Telecom team from the Felixstowe Telephone Exchange (in the Buzby days) and was taken in 1981 when she was two years old.”

Harwich raft race in July 1979 Picture: ARCHANTHarwich raft race in July 1979 Picture: ARCHANT

The Felixstowe Round Table event ended because of the high cost of insurance, but was later revived by the Lions Club.

Getting ready for the start of Southwold Raft Race in  August 1977 Picture: ARCHANTGetting ready for the start of Southwold Raft Race in August 1977 Picture: ARCHANT

READ MORE - Memories of Broomhill Pool in Ipswich

Today we are also featuring photos from other events including the Southwold, Butley, Eyke, Harwich and Bures raft races.

Butley Raft Race in 1991 Picture: ARCHANTButley Raft Race in 1991 Picture: ARCHANT

Needham Lake’s raft race is still going strong and is normally held each year.

Butley Raft Race in 1991 Picture: ARCHANTButley Raft Race in 1991 Picture: ARCHANT

As well as awards for the winners, there is a “tickle factor” prize for the team providing the most entertainment. Apparently, the entertainment generally involves falling in!

RTJ Trailers of Felixstowe staff aboard their ten man raft before the start of the Felixstowe Raft Race in August 2002 Picture: ARCHANTRTJ Trailers of Felixstowe staff aboard their ten man raft before the start of the Felixstowe Raft Race in August 2002 Picture: ARCHANT

Sadly, this year’s race, which had been due to be held on June 28, had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, along with so many other events. It had been due to take the theme “Back to the 80s” - and our gallery includes a photo of the Needham race back in 1983, with large numbers of children taking part.

Did you take part in this raft race at Harwich in July 1979? Picture: ARCHANTDid you take part in this raft race at Harwich in July 1979? Picture: ARCHANT

You may also want to watch:

Do these photos bring back memories? Did you join in raft races in years gone by? Email us here

To order copies of photos, visit myphotos, or call Diane Townsend on 01603 772449.

Clare Carver, aged two, sitting on the British Telecom team's raft for Felixstowe Raft Race in 1981 Picture: JANE KIRKClare Carver, aged two, sitting on the British Telecom team's raft for Felixstowe Raft Race in 1981 Picture: JANE KIRK


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Most Read

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times