The Orwell Estuary, Nacton Shore. A place to stand in the sunshine, look, and think. To put aside all thought of Jenna Deltrich, Harry’s Place and UCU. Or the hyperlink to claims that the “ubiquitous “conspiracy theory” – ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government) – actually be closer to a conspiracy fact?” Or those who make excuses for self-proclaimed pro-Palestinian activists who dwell on such ‘alternative’ ideas, http://leninology.blogspot.com/ .A countryside haven. Victorians wrote doggerel about nymphs and fauns cavorting here. Freston Folly faces. http://www.freston.net/tower/guidebooks.html The residence, to one poetaster, of a Suffolk Leander pining for Hero on the other bank.
Upstream beyond the Orwell Bridge, and marinas that stud every inlet, the New Ipswich is visible http://www.regattaquay.co.uk/regattaquay.html. It’s a startling growth of blocks of flats, restaurants, the Dance East centre, and University Campus Suffolk – complete with eco peat-bog roof (well, grass covered). These are built on long-gone warehouse and industrial sites such as the last operating quayside flour mill, Cranfield’s. The commercial Port is now downstream, only the redundant Custom House remains of the maritime trading past. To the Ipswich Evening Star (27.8.08) these developments are a “symbol of hope.” Long-gone engineering works, Ransomes and Rapiers, and Ransomes Sims and Jeffries, a justified source of local pride, have made way for the usual array of high-price apartments, penthouses and cultural venues that rise in every corner of the country,.
Behind the Waterfront lies an area that was up to mid-20th century a slum rookery, known as the Potteries (kilns date back to Anglo-Saxon times). In the 1840s the Chartist John Cook ran here an Infidel Repository in Upper Orwell Street. He sold radical and militant secular literature. Ipswich was visited in the late 19th century by socialists such as William Morris, and had branches of the small socialist organisations of the time (Socialist League and Social Democratic Federation). An active Trades Council was a focus for a working class left. The Potteries district elected the first Labour councillor in the town. The quarter still has many pockets of poverty. It is very multiethnic. Portuguese, Poles and Balts are amongst the newest arrivals. The Ward, much larger, now is represented by Liberal Councillors, in municipal coalition with the Conservatives, the Liberal-Tory Junta. No guesses who they stand for in a contest between Quayside apartment owners and the Potteries poor.
The dramatic fall in house prices (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3155582.stm) may mean construction ebbs on Ipswich Waterfront. Will it be caught in a broader receding tide? Nearly every town and city has similar projects. Property magnates, builders and councils have raucously trumpeted them. Now, less loudly, many development plans are facing disarray. Despite Ipswich media boosts the same is clearly happening here: selling prices are cut, flat rents reduced, commercial letting unfilled. Nationwide it looks as if the present schemes hover on the brink. Like the 1960s building boom, which began as the acme of modernity, and ended with cracked concrete and urine smelling underpasses. Is the crisis an opportunity for socialists to think about alternative urbanisation? A future beyond these private schemes that gate communities and marginalise the working class and poor. Something worthy of those Ipswich Chartists who fought for workers’ rights and democracy.