Stowmarket (/ˈstˌmɑːrkɪt/ STOH-mar-kət) is a market town in Suffolk, England,[2] on the busy A14 trunk road between Bury St Edmunds to the west and Ipswich to the southeast. The town lies on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) between Diss and Needham Market, and lies on the River Gipping, which is joined by its tributary, the River Rat, to the south of the town.

Stowmarket is located in Suffolk
Location within Suffolk
Population21,534 (2021 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceTM048588
• London89.1mi
Civil parish
  • Stowmarket
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtIP14
Dialling code01449
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°11′N 1°00′E / 52.19°N 1.00°E / 52.19; 1.00

The town takes its name from the Old English word stōw meaning "principal place", and was granted a market charter in 1347 by Edward III. A bi-weekly market is still held there today on Thursday and Saturday.

The population of the town has increased from around 6,000 in 1981 to around 21,000 in 2021, with considerable further development planned for the town and surrounding villages as part of an area action plan.[3][4] It is the largest town in the Mid Suffolk district and is represented in parliament by the MP for Bury St Edmunds, currently Jo Churchill.[5]

Historic events edit

Disaster struck Stowmarket on 11 August 1871, when an explosion at a local gun cotton factory claimed twenty-eight lives and left seventy five injured.[6] The site of the explosion is now home to a large paint factory.

In 1909, Stowmarket High School was founded.

On the 8 June 1918, the first UK astronomical observation of nova V603 Aquilae[7] was made from Stowmarket by A. Grace Cook. History repeated itself on 13 December 1934 when amateur astronomer J. P. M. Prentice discovered DQ Herculis[8] from the town.

Just before midday on Friday 31 January 1941, a solitary German bomber plane (eyewitness accounts differ on the model) was spotted over Stowmarket firing its guns.[9] The bomber strafed a large area of the town, before dropping bombs onto the high street. The Stowmarket Congregational Chapel, a gothic style building that was built in the 19th century, was completely destroyed.[10] There was one casualty, Mrs Rhoda Farrow, who had just returned from seeing her son Ronald and his fiancée off at the railway station.[11]

On 17 July 2002, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited Stowmarket during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations.[12] This was the Queen's second visit to Stowmarket, having first visited the town not long into her reign as Queen in July 1961.[13] During the visit, Her Majesty and Prince Philip visited the local market, meeting stall holders before the Queen unveiled a new Town Sign and met representatives from local organisations while the Duke of Edinburgh met students who took part in The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and viewed a display at the Museum of East Anglian Life.[14]

Landmarks edit

Church of St Peter and St Mary

The church of St Peter and St Mary is in the Decorated style and dates to the 14th century.[15][16] The 16th-century former vicarage, now the town council offices and register office, has associations with John Milton; Milton's Tree in its grounds is believed to be an offshoot of one of the many trees he planted there.

Haughley Park is an historical house situated in Haughley to the west of the town, of some significance, listed in the English Heritage Register. It is a large red brick country house built in about 1620 for the Sulyard family who were very prominent landowners in this area.

Opened in 1967, The Food Museum (formerly the Museum of East Anglian Life) occupies a 70-acre (28 ha) site close to the town centre.

The Karnser is a raised pavement in Station Road West, next to the church. The name is the East Anglian dialect word caunsey, meaning a causey (causeway).[17]

Transport edit

Stowmarket railway station from the front

Stowmarket railway station, on the Great Eastern Main Line, is served by railway routes operated by Greater Anglia: Peterborough to Ipswich (via Ely and Bury St Edmunds); Cambridge to Ipswich (via Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Needham Market); and Norwich to London Liverpool Street (via Diss, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and Stratford).

In the 18th century, the River Gipping was made navigable between Stowmarket and Ipswich by a series of locks. The newly created canal was known as the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation.[18]

Suffolk County Council has built a road from the Central Roundabout, a short distance to the east of Stowmarket, to Gipping Way in central Stowmarket at a cost of £21 million.[19] The scheme was completed in summer 2010. The new road bridges the railway line and the River Gipping.[20]

Media edit

Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC East and ITV Anglia. Television signals are received from either the Sudbury or Tacolneston TV transmitters.[21][22]

Local radio stations are BBC Radio Suffolk on 103.9 FM, Heart East on 96.4 FM and Greatest Hits Radio Ipswich & Suffolk on 106.4 FM. [23]

The Stowmarket Mercury is the town's local newspaper. [24]

Governance edit

Town sign, Market Place, unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002
BlazonOr three Crowns Gules on a Chief Azure a Mitre Argent garnished Or.
MottoSit Anima Mea Cum Christo (May My Soul Be With Christ)
Granted to the urban district council in 1970. Transferred to the successor parish council in 1974.[25]

Stowmarket Town Council is the first tier of local government for Stowmarket. Formed in 1974 from the Stowmarket Urban District Council, the Town Council serves a population of approximately 20,000 people in four wards. It is made up of 16 elected members backed up by a staff of over 30. The council is located in the historic Milton House.

Stowmarket is also home to Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council offices.

County Councillors edit

Election Member for Stowmarket South Party Member for Stowmarket North & Stowupland Party
2001 Ronald Snell Labour Duncan Macpherson Labour
2005 Keith Myers-Hewitt Conservatives Eleanor Ramsey Conservatives
2009 Anne Whybrow Conservatives Gary Green Conservatives
2013 Stephen Searle UKIP Gary Green Conservatives
2017 Nick Gowrley Conservatives Gary Green Conservatives
2021 Keith Scarff Liberal Democrats Keith Welham Green Party

Sport and leisure edit

John Peel Centre Centre for Creative Arts, formerly the corn exchange

Stowmarket has a non-League football club Stowmarket Town F.C., which plays at Greens Meadow.[26] There is also a rugby club located at Chilton Fields, to the north of the town. Stowmarket is home to a handful of gyms and also boasts its own leisure centre complete with swimming pools, climbing wall, bowls green, gym, and artificial-turf football pitch.[27] The town has several grassroots clubs playing various sports.[28]

The Regal Theatre cinema has been in operation in the town centre for more than fifty years,[29] offering films, concerts and theatre productions.

The former corn exchange underwent a £1 million refurbishment in 2012 to become a music venue, art gallery and theatre named the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts.[30] It is named after the late influential DJ and broadcaster who lived just outside the town.[31][32]

Climate edit

Stowmarket has a maritime climate type as is typical for the bulk of the British Isles. Wattisham is the nearest official weather station, about 4 miles south south west of Stowmarket Town centre.

The absolute maximum temperature recorded was 35.3 °C (95.5 °F)[33] during the August 2003 heatwave. In an average year 11.9 days[34] will report a temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or above, with the warmest day of the year rising to 29.0 °C (84.2 °F).[35]

The absolute minimum temperature is −14.6 °C (5.7 °F),[36] set in January 1979, although given online records only date back to 1960; it is likely the winter of 1947 saw lower temperatures. In an average year, 48.3[37] air frosts can be expected.

Sunshine, averaging over 1635 hours[38] a year, is amongst the highest for inland areas of Britain. Annual rainfall totals average below 575mm, with over 1mm of rain falling on 109.4 days.[39] All averages refer to the observation period 1971–2000.

Climate data for Wattisham, elevation 87m, 1971–2000, extremes 1960–
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.1
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 0.7
Record low °C (°F) −14.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 49.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57.4 75.7 111.3 159.0 213.6 208.2 212.7 205.8 148.5 117.5 73.2 52.4 1,635.2
Source 1: MetOffice[40]
Source 2: KNMI[41]

Stowmarket today edit

Stowmarket has held an annual carnival for 60 years, with 2023 being celebrated as the 60th. The main event is held in the recreation park[42] featuring a fun fair, a procession through the town and local entertainment.[43] The procession starts at Meadlands Social Club and goes via Combs Ford, Ipswich Road, The Regal, Ipswich Street, Market Place, Tavern Street and Finborough Road, ending in Recreation Road. For the first time in many years, Stowmarket Carnival will be free to attend in 2023, making it accessible to all. Stowmarket Carnival is run by a team of volunteers who do it to provide fun and entertainment, through Carnival, to the people of Stowmarket.

Stowmarket also plays host to the music festival Stow-Fest, a live music open-air event that takes place annually at Chilton Fields in the North of Stowmarket.[44] Since 2010 the town has hosted the Stowblues Festival, organised in partnership with BBC Radio Suffolk.[45]

The Mix is located on Ipswich Street, and is a flagship youth and community centre in Suffolk.[46]

Notable residents edit

The poet John Milton made regular visits to the town as his tutor, Dr Thomas Young, became vicar of Stowmarket in 1628.

Other notable residents included political writer William Godwin, who spent time as minister at the Stowmarket Independent Church; and singer / West End actress, Kerry Ellis, who was brought up in the nearby village of Haughley and attended Stowmarket's High School. Delia Smith also resides nearby in Combs. Stow has produced professional footballers, James Scowcroft who played for the local junior sides and Ipswich Town among others. Professional wrestler Neil Faith has lived in Stowmarket. As well as poet George Crabbe, who went to school in the town. The amateur astronomers A. Grace Cook and J. P. M. Prentice[47] lived in the town. Former MP Gareth Snell is from Stowmarket. Murder victim Matthew Pyke grew up in this town.

In popular culture edit

Host Planet Earth, by Colin Cooper,[48] is largely set around a fictional rocket launch site near Stowmarket.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Town Population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  2. ^ OS Explorer map 211: Bury St.Edmunds and Stowmarket Scale: 1:25 000. Publisher:Ordnance Survey – Southampton A2 edition. Publishing Date:2008. ISBN 978 0319240519
  3. ^ "A guide to Stowmarket, Suffolk. Stowmarket tourist information, local contacts, attractions and reviews". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Stowmarket Area Action Plan". Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Bury St Edmunds MP joins cross party investigation into mis-selling by banks to SMEs". Bury Free Press. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Archive Reference HC411". The National Archives. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  7. ^ "1918MNRAS..78..569C Page 569". Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  8. ^ "DQ Her". Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  9. ^ Williams, Steve. "The Destruction of Stowmarket Congregational Church". Stowmarket History. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  10. ^ Knott, Simon. "United Reformed Church, Stowmarket". Suffolk Churches. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Day death fell from the skies over Stowmarket". East Anglian Daily Times. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  12. ^ "The Queen's Golden Jubilee programme". official website of The British Monarchy. The Royal Household. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Anglia Archive: The Queen in Suffolk in 1961". Anglia Archives. ITV. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Royal visit to Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket". BBC Suffolk East. BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  15. ^ Pevsner, N.; Radcliffe, E. (1974). Suffolk. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth. pp. 443–444.
  16. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Peter and St Mary (Grade I) (1208624)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Keith Briggs: : The_Karnser_Stowmarket".
  18. ^ Historic England. "Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation (1383928)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Rosie Winterton, Transport Minister announces £21m relief for Stowmarket". 30 November 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  20. ^ "B1115 Stowmarket Relief Road". Retrieved 14 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Sudbury (Suffolk, England) Full Freeview transmitter". May 2004.
  22. ^ "Tacolneston (Norfolk, England) Full Freeview transmitter". May 2004.
  23. ^ "Media: Television & Radio - Stowmarket, Suffolk".
  24. ^ "Stowmarket Mercury | British Newspapers Online". 9 December 2013.
  25. ^ "STOWMARKET TOWN COUNCIL (SUFFOLK)". Robert Young. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Stowmarket Town – Greens Meadow Stadium". Fanzone: The away fan's bible. FanZone. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  27. ^ "Fitness Centres, Swimming Pools and Gyms". Stowmarket Area Guide. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  28. ^ "Stowmarket Sport".
  29. ^ Hunter, Matt (3 November 2012). "Stowmarket: James Bond film Skyfall gives boost for Regal Theatre". Ipswich Star. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  30. ^ "John Peel Centre in Stowmarket closes for £1m rebuild". BBC News. BBC. 30 June 2012.
  31. ^ "John Peel Centre in Stowmarket reopens". News Suffolk. BBC. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013..
  32. ^ Matt Hunter (30 January 2013). "John Peel Centre for Creative Arts prepares for first music gig". East Anglia Daily Times. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  33. ^ "August 2003". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  34. ^ "1971-00>25c days". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  35. ^ "Average Warmest Day". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  36. ^ "January 1979 minimum". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  37. ^ "Average Air frosts". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  38. ^ "Sunshine average". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  39. ^ "1971-00 raindays". Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  40. ^ "Climate Normals 1971–2000". MetOffice. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  41. ^ "Climate Extremes 1960". KNMI. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  42. ^ "Domesday Reloaded". BBC History. BBC. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  43. ^ "Past Photos". Stowmarket Carnival. Stowmarket Carnival Committee. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  44. ^ "What is StowFest?". Stowfest. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  45. ^ "Museum of East Anglian Life". Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  46. ^ "The Mix Stowmarket". Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  47. ^ Lovell, B. (1982). "1982QJRAS..23..452L Page 452". Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. 23: 452. Bibcode:1982QJRAS..23..452L. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  48. ^ "SFE: Cooper, Colin". Retrieved 12 July 2023.

External links edit