Ipswich Maritime Trust

Ipswich Maritime Trust (IMT) was formed in 1982 by the nucleus of the Maritime Ipswich committee.  IMT is a registered charity, whose aims are the promotion of the maritime history of Ipswich & Suffolk and to encourage sailing for (primarily) young people. Membership is a modest £5 (£7.50 for joint membership) and you can download an application form from the website www.ipswichmaritimetrust.org.uk or call 01473 353512

The modern extension of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel stands on the site of what was once J O Whitmore’s sail loft.  The Whitmore family were barge owners and sailors from Harwich.  Towards the very end of the 19th century, John Offer Whitmore took over the Neptune Quay premises, which belonged to Bayley & Sons; Shipbuilders and Chandlers.  The ground floor was a ships chandlery, with the upper floor the sail loft.  Sometime in the 1930’s an extra storey was added and the Drift at the side was covered. Metal work was first built up over the Drift and then extended over the main building, to rest on the wall of the adjacent building; meanwhile keeping the loft going.  However, when the join was to be made there was a problem with the height between floors and the floor had to be raised.  The evidence for this change of height was visible on the stairs inside the building, up to the end of the building.  

J O Whitmore were especially well known for their barge sails, but also did a lot of government work such as making tents and large tarpaulin covers and they would willingly tackle any heavy canvas work.  The Chandlery on the ground floor supplied the needs of the working port.

The business was in the Whitmore family right through the 20th century until the business closed in 1984. Then, for a brief while, Ipswich Boat Building Partnership used the building, with Austin Farrar making modern sails.  Later the building was used as a snooker hall with a bar below, before being demolished and rebuilt in the form that is seen today.

Photo credits:
J.O. Whitmore’s Busy Sail Loft circa 1952
Women at machines left to rightLil Brunning Philis Orvis
Seated left to right George Welham
Standing left Walter Beaton
Standing at sail George Madder
Seated Right John “ Percy “ Gladwell
others in the picture include Janet Fisher, Johnny Bennett and Pat Roberts