Thoughts on growing up in Felixstowe

Having been born in Felixstowe in 1947 I have fond memories and most of them are about being on the prom or on the beach with my mum and dad. Perhaps your memory plays tricks on you but it always seemed to be ‘sunny days’.

People asked me about the ’53 floods and I said I couldn’t say anything as Dr Sherlock put me in the Cottage Hospital a few days before the floods came to have my tonsils removed and I was kept in for about 3 weeks. All I saw was the pictures in the papers.

First school was the Convent of Jesus and Mary on Orwell Road and I remember the vast gardens which now of course have quite a few houses on.

I looked forward to Uncles and Aunties coming to visit as it meant Sunday lunch at either the Alex or the Regal and walk down a leafy Walton Avenue to the Dooley Pub. Spent many an afternoon with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps.

I have vivid memories of the great yacht pond where we spent evenings and Sunday afternoons quietly sailing our model boats.

I think I knew at an early age that I was destined to join the Army as I recall following the band of, I think the Royal Green Jackets, all along Sea Road to the Barracks at the Port,and being found by one of my Dad’s work colleagues, a Mr Burch, who kindly took me home.

I grew up with two bestfriends that I am still in touch with Tony Lazell and Kevin Banham and we seemed to spend summer school holidays on the beach swimming and admiring the girls. We had little money to spend so all we could do was wander round Charlie Mannings and thought how good it would be one day to be able to afford to ride the Dodgems.

We seemed to spend a lot of time annoying the council workers in the Spa gardens and running away as fast as possible-I am not sure if this was before or after Mass at St Felix Church.

We grew older and hopefully wiser and school holidays for me were spent either washing at the Melrose Hotel or washing up and waiting table at the Marlborough Hotel.

The Army beckoned and off I went but always enjoyed my leave back home in Felixstowe and returning when service was completed.

I  joined the world of shipping, as so many of us did in Felixstowe, and at the weekends worked as barman for John Humphreys at the Grand Hotel. Saturday and Sunday, we could be found in our regimental tie and blazer serving in the Garden bar. No jeans or work boots dared enter the heavily carpeted floor. It is now not quite as genteel as I remember.

Eventually marriage and work took my wife and I away but occasional ships brought me back ‘home’ and in ’91 saw us settle in Kesgrave and about the first thing we did after unpacking was to park on Sea Road and walk to the Fludyers and smell the fresh sea air. I have a special memory of The Fludyers as it was where I proposed one New Year’s Eve.

I really believe you must go away and come back to realise just how nice Felixstowe is.

After some 40+ years in shipping one of my most enjoyable days now is to bus to the View Point and walk the waterline to the Manor Club, then up on the prom and up Convalescent Hill for a cuppa in the ‘Seniors centre’ in OrwellRoad. Refreshed and down the Spa Gardens to the Fludyers and up to the High Road and the 75,76 or 77 bus back ‘inland’.

I guess you can say I still like Felixstowe.

Tony Bayley