Celebrating 140 Years

Honouring 140 years of Suffolk business, shaping tomorrow and celebrating diversity.

Join the journey of the last 140 years of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and the county’s businesses, and explore Suffolk’s vibrant, diverse and prosperous economic evolution.

Orwell Bridge construction, Credit to Ipswich Society Sir Edward Packard Jr, by Frederick George Cotman, Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service: Ipswich Borough Council Collection A portrait of a man of South Asian heritage in a decorated turban.
IWM Art Black and white photograph of men surrounding a large pile of fish at a market.
ipswich-bi-plane, Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive Waterfront Under construction 20 May 2008, University of Suffolk A black and white photograph of a shopfront with confectionery goods staked up.
Black and white aerial photograph of a harbour. A photograph of a modern office building lit up at night.

1760-1883

Booming Industry

The economy boomed with the Industrial Revolution, fuelled by local and migrant labour that led to the formation of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Barges on Bramford Quay, Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive
polaroid
A black and white photograph of women sitting beside old machinery at a dock.
A black and white photograph of women, working with large barrels, in a factory.

1774

An old illustration of a woman working on a loom.

1774

Silk industry established in Suffolk

Production moved from London to towns in Suffolk including Sudbury, Haverhill and Glemsford.

Over 250 years later, Suffolk is still home to some of the world’s most famous silks, producing nearly 95% of the UK’s woven silk textiles.

1789

An old illustration of workers outside a factory. A black and white portrait of a light-skinned man with a beard.

1789

Robert Ransome begins trading

Robert Ransome, an ironmonger, began his business as a sole trader in Ipswich. By 1884, the company was incorporated as Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Ltd. Robert’s grandson, Robert Charles Ransome, was an engineer at the firm until his death in 1886 and a founding member of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

1819

A painted portrait of a white man with dark hair. He wears formal attire. An aged building deed.

1819

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds opens New Theatre

Although the original theatre dates back to the 1780s, a new building was designed and built in 1819 by William Wilkins.

With many of its original features still intact, it is the last remaining Regency playhouse in the country and one of the most beautiful, intimate and historic theatres in the world. Wilkins was an architect of national repute and was responsible for the National Gallery in London and Downing College, Cambridge.

Find out more about Theatre Royal

1824

A sepia portrait of a light-skinned man in a suit posing.

1824

Burton, Son & Sanders Ltd founded

Burton’s later director, Bunnell Henry Burton, was a founding member of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

1831

An illustration of bridge over a river at Lowestoft harbour.

1831

Port of Lowestoft harbour constructed

With the later addition of a railway in 1847, the town expanded as a major fishing port and seaside resort.

A black and white photograph of a fair ground with large white tents.

1831

Chamber member The Suffolk Agricultural Association was formed to promote and celebrate farming in the region.

1842

An illustration of a large crowd of people attending a ceremony at the Ipswich Wet Dock in 1839.

1842

Ipswich Wet Dock Constructed

The dock was constructed by the Chamber’s founding organisation, the Ipswich Dock Commission.

It helped to attract new industries to the dock and supported greater trading capabilities into Ipswich.

An aerial black and white photograph of factories on the Ipswich docks

1842

R&W Pauls Ltd founded

The grain and malting business, based on the Ipswich docks, was founded by brothers, William Francis Paul & Robert Stocker Paul.

They were both founding members of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

1849

A poster for the Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society with text on it about their annual meeting. A black and white photograph of a light-skinned man with a large moustache posing, with a faded black background.

1849

Chamber member Suffolk Building Society founded

The Society formed as Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society to improve the social position of ordinary people. 

1851

A scan of an old export register. Photograph of words engraved on an old building above an entryway.

Diversity & inclusion

1851

Phillips and Piper founded

The once Chamber member Phillips and Piper made quality clothing such as equestrian wear. Founded in 1851, it was operational for 131 years, and employed thousands of women throughout that time. Many employees joined the company as soon as they left school and stayed for decades.

Chamber records show the company exported many of their jackets abroad, particularly to European countries such as France and Denmark.

1855

An extract from an old newspaper with sketches of Robert Boby's machinery and other text

1855

Robert Boby Ltd founded

Robert Boby founded the engineering works Robert Boby Ltd in Bury St Edmunds, employing hundreds of workers and providing products for the agriculture and malting industry. 

Download the above press cutting for more detail

1859

1859

East Suffolk Railway Line opens

The East Suffolk Line from Ipswich to Lowestoft opened in 1859, followed by the Felixstowe branch a few years later.

Lowestoft was a major manufacturing base until the 1930s and played a key role in the country’s economy. The arrival of rail line opened up business opportunities for industries with fish and other cargo able to be transported quicker to London.

The un-electrified 49-mile coastal railway line used to have branches to Framlingham, Snape Bridge, and in 1860, to Aldeburgh. The East Suffolk Line was absorbed into the new Great Eastern Railway in 1862.

1860

1860

The Association of Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom formed

The association first formed with sixteen founding members. Today, with a membership of fifty-three Chambers, the association is known as the British Chambers of Commerce.

1863

A man of South Asian in a turban standing next to a building.

Diversity & inclusion

1863

Maharajah Duleep Singh arrived in Suffolk​

The Maharajah purchased Elveden Estate where he employed local tradesmen to restore the local school, church and housing in the area, and to renovate Elveden Hall in the image of the Indian palaces of his childhood.

1866

A painted portrait of a light-skinned man with a red background.

1866

Edward Packard Jr joins his father’s business

Edward joined his father’s fertiliser business, E. Packard & Co, in 1866 with his brother, Henry.

He went on to become a pioneering business leader in Suffolk and was the driving force behind the formation of the Chamber of Commerce in Suffolk. 

1868

A coloured portrait of a light-skinned man with a beard. He is wearing a suit, and holding a newspaper.

1868

Sterling Westhorp opens practice

Westhorp was a solicitor and ran his practice on Museum Street, Ipswich. The practice later merged to become Chamber Patron Birketts LLP.

Westhorp served as Mayor of Ipswich in the Suffolk Chamber’s founding year, 1884.

1869

An old book cover of Ransomes & Rapier. A faded black and white photograph of a light-skinned man with a large moustache.

1869

Ransomes & Rapier founded

Ransomes & Rapier was formed by four engineers from Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, including Richard Christopher Rapier, a founding member of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

1870

1870

Henry Clement Casley qualifies as a solicitor

Casley qualified as a solicitor in 1870, and later served as the solicitor to the Ipswich Dock Commission, the organisation responsible for the formation of the Suffolk Chamber.

Significantly, he was the Suffolk Chamber’s first and longest serving secretary – a position he held from 1884 to 1932.

1876

A painting of a light-skinned man in a suit, sitting in a red armchair.

1876

Felix Thornley Cobbold joins the family business

The youngest son of John Chevallier Cobbold, Felix joined the family business, Cobbold & Co, in 1876. 

Felix was a founding member of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

1877

1877

Felixstowe Railway & Pier Company opens first station

On the 1st of May, 1877, Felixstowe’s first station opened, near what is now the Port of Felixstowe.

Today, the railway remains busy, transporting passengers to Ipswich in just 25 minutes and facilitating the movement of goods across the UK.

The Port of Felixstowe is now the busiest container port in the UK and a significant local employer. Felixstowe owes much of its growth and prosperity to the enduring impact of its railway.

1878

A black and white photograph of 12 men, some sitting on a bench and others standing behind them, dressed in an old football kit. There is a large tree and fields in the background.

1878

Chamber patron Ipswich Town Football Club was formed

1884-1913

Diversifying Business

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce emerged as a beacon of collaboration amidst a period of burgeoning business expansion. Meanwhile, women experienced a notable shift in their position in public life.

Stephen Walters & Sons
Black and white photograph of boats at a dock.
A black and white newspaper article
Black and white photograph of a factory on a dockside.

1884

A black and white cutting from an old newspaper. A large black and white broadsheet newspaper.

1884

Founding of the Chamber of Commerce in Suffolk

Motivated by the challenge of competing ports across the Suffolk border in Essex, members of the Ipswich Dock Commission envisioned a unified Chamber of Commerce

A black and white advertisement of a factory.

1884

Cranfield Brothers Ltd founded

John George Cranfield, a pioneer in steel roller milling, was one of the first members of the Suffolk Chamber and its Chairman in 1895. 

With many years’ experience in mills in the USA and Northern Ireland, he founded Cranfield Flour Mills on the Ipswich Waterfront with his brother, Thomas, and the mills operated at the site for over a century. 

1886

A black and white photograph of a woman riding a black horse.

Diversity & inclusion

1886

Ellen Chaloner – ‘First Lady of the Turf’

Living in Newmarket, Ellen was a pioneering woman in the world of horse racing.

She became the first woman to receive a horse training permit in the UK, paving the way for other women in the industry.

Learn more about Ellen here
A black and white photograph of men in a line. Behind them is a large body of water and muddy fields. Two women sitting by old machinery, with muddy construction site in the background.

1886

The first small dock was built at Felixstowe

The original dock could accommodate vessels up to 30 metres long – today, the port can accommodate the largest vessel in the world, which is 400 metres long!

1898

A black and white photograph of a finely dressed woman with a pickaxe in a dig.

Diversity & inclusion

1898

Nina Layard

Nina was in a minority in the male-dominated areas of archaeology, prehistory and geology. 

She led the first excavations in Blackfriars monastery, Ipswich. This made a massive contribution to the understanding of local history and the archaeology of the town.

In 1921, she made history as the first woman to be the president of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. 

A black and white photograph of a white man in a suit, standing next to a pony. Behind them is a cart and van, selling ice cream.

1898

Paravanni’s Ice Cream

Suffolk-based Parravani’s Ice Cream in the oldest ice creamery in the UK. It was founded in Norwich in 1898 by Giuseppe Parravani, who was originally from Italy. Giuseppe expanded his business to Bungay, where he settled with his family.

Following Giuseppe’s untimely death in 1931, his eldest son, Augie, continued the business, which grew with the addition of ice cream vans. Augie and his brothers ran the business until Augie’s retirement in 1985. The business then shifted to Chedgrave in 1986, and by 1987, Domenico and his son Paul took over, expanding to Beccles in 2012.

They now supply premium ice creams, sorbets, and pastries across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

1900

A black and white photograph of women working at a large loom.

Diversity & inclusion

1900

Stephen Walters and Sons move to Cornard Road

Suffolk Chamber member, Stephen Walters and Sons, moved to their current site in Sudbury. They continue their legacy today as specialists in luxury woven jacquard fabrics and a mass employer of women.

1904

A black and white photograph of children and nursemaids in a small factory yard.

Diversity & inclusion

1904

William Pretty & Sons open onsite creche

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, there were an estimated 750,000 mothers working in Britain. 

Unusual for its time, founding Chamber member William Pretty & Sons – the first corset factory in the country – provided parents with access to an onsite creche, enabling working class mothers to source an additional income for their families.

1908

A black and white photograph of a woman reading.

Diversity & inclusion

1908

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 

Elizabeth was the first female mayor in the country, serving in Aldeburgh. She was also a suffragist and the first professional female physician in Britain.

Her sister, Millicent Fawcett, was a leading suffragist, writer and co-founder of Newham College, Cambridge. Another sister, Agnes Garrett, co-founded the first women-led interior design company in Britain. 

1909

A black and white newspaper cutting.

1909

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Bury St Edmunds founded

In June 1909, prominent traders in the market town gathered to form a Chamber of Trade. 

Founding members included Sidney Allingham, director of Robert Boby Ltd, and Henry Bankes Ashton, of Chamber member Ashtons Legal LLP.

1910

A black and white photograph of a woman.

Diversity & inclusion

1910

Edith Maud Cook

Ipswich-born Edith was a parachutist and aviator. Having enrolled into the Bleriot aviation school in France, Edith went on to become the first British woman to pilot a plane in 1910.  

Learn more about historic Suffolk women

1914-1918

Crisis & Collaboration

World War I saw businesses mobilise on a huge scale to serve the war effort. Women entered the workforce.

A black and white photograph of old vehicles lined up on a dockside.
A black and white photograph of a large ship in a dock, with a factory in the background.
A black and white photograph of women working in a factory.
A black and white photograph of a man in spectacles sitting in a chair reading a magasine.

1915

A black and white photograph of a men stood next to munitions.

1915

‘Stokes mortar’ invented in Ipswich

Vital on the Western Front, the weapon was invented by Sir Wilfred Stokes – the Managing Director of Chamber member Ransomes & Rapier. 

Designed for infantry use in the trenches to match the German “Minenwerfer”, the Stokes Mortar had a short-range and high trajectory that was crucial for trench warfare.

Capable of firing up to 25 bombs per minute at a range of around 1,000 metres, over 11,000 Stokes mortars were manufactured during the war.

A yellowed page from a book. A yellowed page from a book.

1915

East Anglian Munitions Committee formed

Under the leadership of Sir Wilfred Stokes, the committee formed as the first cooperative in Britain for munitions production, manufacturing over one million shells throughout the war. 

Several Suffolk Chamber members were part of the committee, and many local businesses supported their work.

1916

A yellowed page of handwritten text taken from a Chamber minute book.

Diversity & inclusion

1916

Chamber support “female substitutes”

Chamber discussion in Ipswich centred on the subject of “the provision of female substitutes for male clerical staff”. 

The Chamber worked in conjunction with the Local Education Authority to start emergency training classes for women in clerical skills such as shorthand, typewriting and bookkeeping.

A black and white photograph of women constructing aircraft wings. A black and white photograph of men and women in front of a bi-wing aircraft.

1916

Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies support war effort

During the war, over 2,000 women were employed at Chamber member Ransomes, producing a variety of shells and munitions. 

They also manufactured early aircraft used by the Royal Flying Corps. Around 350 fighter planes were built in Ipswich.

A scan of an old handwritten document. A scan of an old handwritten document.

1916

Summer Time Act

The introduction of the Summer Time Act in May 1916 marked the inception of daylight saving time – where the clocks are adjusted twice a year to extend daylight hours during the summer months. Recognized as an emergency war measure, its primary objective was to optimize daylight hours for increased wartime production.

In 1917, the Chamber provided details around the impact of this scheme on industry.

A black and white photograph of boys and men in flat caps working in a factory.

1916

E.R.F. Turner Ltd. support war effort

The longstanding Chamber member supported the work of the East Anglian Munitions Committee by producing factory equipment and tools that enabled women and unskilled labourers to manufacture shells. 

1919-1938

Interwar Years

Despite the lasting effects of the war, Suffolk business expanded in this period.

Fishing Herring Girls, photographer unknown, owned by Suffolk Archives
Early photograph, owned by Sackers
Factory site, British Sugar (c)
Bury Free Press articles, Iliffe Media

1919

Black and white photo of a woman on a tractor in a field with a man standing next to her leaning on the vehicle. Black and white portrait photo of a woman wearing a dark coloured beret, a white shirt and v-necked jumper.

Diversity & inclusion

1919

Lady Evelyn Balfour moves to Suffolk​

A leading organic farming pioneer and founder of The Soil Association, Lady Eve Balfour, bought her first farm in Stowmarket aged just 21.

Find out more about Lady Balfour

1921

An old black and white photo of a man and woman standing in a doorway of a shop. A black and white photograph of an old shopfront.

1921

Hughes Electrical founded

In 1921 Frank Hughes opened his workshop in Lowestoft. By 1928, he opened his first shop, specialising in radios tailored to the needs of the local community.

A member of the Suffolk Chamber, Hughes is now the UK’s third largest electrical retailer. The business is run by the third generation of the Hughes family – Robert and Jeremy – and continues its legacy of innovation.​

1923

Old brown tinged document

1923

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Lowestoft formed

Driven by issues around local infrastructure, ship broker George Frederick Spashett and local draper Charlie Culf sought the foundation of a Chamber to collectively represent the local business community.

A black and white photographt of a white man leaning on his hand. A portrait of a white man in gowns with a gold chain around his neck.

1923

S. Sacker Limited founded

Chamber patron Sackers, a scrap metal and waste recycling company, was founded by Sydney Sacker. 

His son-in-law, David Myer,  joined the business in 1946. He later became President of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Ipswich, serving two terms from 1971 to 1973, and for a second time in 1982 – with a hiatus to serve as Mayor of Ipswich in 1977.

1924

Black and white arial photo of an old factory site, with white smoke comin gout of a tall industrial chimney A black and white photo of a industrial tower within a factory setting.

1924

British Sugar factory opens in Bury St Edmunds​

In a region now renowned for its sugar beet industry, the site in Bury St Edmunds began operating under the management of the United Sugar Company who quickly joined the ranks of the Chamber of Commerce.

In 1936, the sugar beet industry was nationalised and taken over by the British Sugar Corporation, who remain a loyal member of the Chamber.

An old handwritten minute book.

Diversity & inclusion

1924

Mrs Ethel Norton joins Suffolk Chamber

Uncovered in our research are the early minute notes of the Suffolk Chamber in Lowestoft, which reveal the first female member of a Chamber of Commerce in Suffolk as early as April 1924.

Mrs Ethel Norton, of the Sunnydene Private Hotel, on North Parade, joined the Chamber and its group for Hotel Proprietors, Licensed Victuallers, and Boarding Housekeepers Committee.

1929

black and white photo of three old trucks lined up in ront of a barn.

1929

Bartrums founded​

Leonard Bartrum began his career as a delivery driver, initially using a horse and cart to distribute paraffin. Transitioning to lorry driving, he invested the savings he had set aside for his first home to purchase a single vehicle, thus founding Bartrums in February 1929. ​
Leonard’s vision swiftly turned this modest start into a flourishing haulage fleet.

His sons, Philip, Roger, and Roy, later joined the business as lorry drivers’ mates, helping to load vehicles, before working their way to management roles. Today, Robert and Shaun Bartrum, two of Leonard’s grandchildren, continue his legacy as Managing Directors of Bartrums.

1930

A black and whilte photo of a Black man wears clothing which looks flamboyant and reminisent of traditional African ceremonial clothing. He wears a headdress with feathers. He is pointing upwards with his right hand. The man is tall and in the background are white people dressed smartly at a horseracing event.

Diversity & inclusion

1930

Ras Prince Monolulu at Newmarket Racecourse​

Ras Prince Monolulu, one of the first Black people to appear on British television, made his money selling tips at Chamber member Newmarket Racecourse and other racecourses across Britain.

His exclamation, “I’ve got a horse!”, became a symbol of his enthusiasm for the sport. ​

A black and white newspaper advertisement.

1930

Chamber lobby for trade in Bury St Edmunds

The Suffolk Chamber in Bury St Edmunds fervently supported local trade by organising a series of trade exhibitions, one of which occurred in the Cornhill in September 1930.

1933

Black and white photo of an old thatched roof cottage surrounded by bushes and trees. A white man stands at the right side of the house An old blue postcard size document with faded black and red handwriting, and a passport image of a man dressed in a suit and tie.

Diversity & inclusion

1933

Ernst Freud flees Nazi Germany, builds in Suffolk​

The youngest son of Sigmund Freud, architect Ernst Freud escaped Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany and fled to Britain.

A black and white photograph of seven white men in front of old amusement ground equipment.

1933

Funfair opens at Mannings Amusements

The funfair at Mannings Amusements, Felixstowe, first open as an attraction in 1933 when Sir Billy Butlin built one of his earliest resorts.

The site was taken over by the Manning family in 1946, and is still owned by the family today.

1934

Black and white arial photo of an old factory site Black and white protrait of a white man in a dark suit.

1934

Muntons PLC acquired site in Ipswich​

The Baker-Munton family have a history of trading in malt and grain going back to the nineteenth century. Following the success of their first malting factory in Bedford in 1921, Chamber member Muntons soon acquired Edward Fison Ltd, on the Ipswich docks.

In 1948, a rapid increase in trade led to purchasing a site in Stowmarket formally owned by British Nylon Spinners, before moving to the purpose-built Cedars Maltings site in Stowmarket in 1976 where Muntons remains to this day.

1936

A black and white photograph of four tall radio towers. A black and white photograph of women sitting around a table, one using a telephone.

Diversity & inclusion

1936

Invention of Radar

In September 1937, RAF Bawdsey became the first fully operational Radar station in the world, just a short eighteen months after the first experiment, conducted by Robert Watson Watt and
Arnold Wilkins, established that by using transmitted radio waves it was possible to detect an approaching aircraft. Bawdsey Manor Estate became the national hub of a radar research and operations, with 240ft wooden receiver towers and 360ft steel transmitter towers.

Many women worked at Bawdsey during the Second World War, providing intelligence during the Battle of Britain. The site remained operational until 1991, and now hosts the Bawdsey Radar Museum.

Visit the Bawdsey Radar website to find out more

1936 & 1938

Old black and white photo of a group of women dressed in full length dresses, with scarves on their head. They stand around a big wooden crate of fish and a barrell stands in the foreground. A black and white photograph of women in headscarves standing in front of barrels.

Diversity & inclusion

1936 & 1938

Herring Lassies go on strike​

Every year thousands of women were employed in Lowestoft to gut and pack herring. Known as the Herring Lassies, they followed the fish migration down the east coast, from Scotland to Suffolk.

1938

Black and white photo of a woman in a long fur coat, standing next to an old 1930s car. Head and shoulders shot of a white woman wearing a smart blue jacket and dress, with a dark blue het and a large red medal on her lapel.

Diversity & inclusion

1938

Devora Peake established first orchard​

Born in Tel Aviv, 23-year-old Devora Peake set up a 120-acre apple farm in Boxford near Sudbury with her first husband, and it’s now part of the Boxford Group.

1939-1945

Suffolk at War

Many Chamber of Commerce businesses were once again mobilised to war.

1939-newspapers, Bury Free Press, Iliffe Media
Coloured poster of the Women's Land Army
WW2 Ransomes, Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive
WW2 brigades, Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive

1938

A yellowed extract from old minute notes on written on a typewriter.

1938

Chamber supports the Air Raid Precaution Committee

The Air Raid Precaution Committee was in place to coordinate action against enemy air raids. In preparation for aerial attack, many Chamber members enrolled their employees in training to deal with the aftermath of air raids.

Businesses around the docks in Ipswich and Lowestoft had their own fire brigades to deal with the effects of German bombardment.

1939

A black and white photograph of a woman standing in a house with her arms crossed.

Diversity & inclusion

1939

Edith Pretty

Edith oversaw the excavations of the Sutton Hoo ship on her estate in Suffolk, which the British Museum considered to be ‘one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time’.

She was also the daughter-in-law of Chamber member William Pretty.

Coloured poster of the Women's Land Army

Diversity & inclusion

1939

Suffolk Women’s Land Army

Reformed in June, many women swiftly joined the the Women’s Land Army (WLA) to support farming in Suffolk, with many women living away from home in hostels and experiencing the countryside and  agricultural work for the first time.  At its peak in 1944, there were more than 80,000 women involved doing tough, physical and sometimes dangerous work. 

Now, luxury accommodation at the Stoke by Nayland Resort stands on the site of one of these hostels.

Find out more about the Suffolk WLA
A black and white newspaper cutting.

1939

A special Christmas gathering

From September 1939, 1.5 million people were relocated through “Operation Pied Piper”. As well as school children, over half a million young mothers, babies and pregnant women were evacuated to rural areas across the country, including towns such as Bury St Edmunds.

Conscious of the upheaval caused by evacuation, the Chamber of Commerce in Bury St Edmunds organised a Christmas party for these families and other children in the community.

A black and white photo of naval officers saluting. A black and white old logo.

1939

Ports at War

All along the coast, the major Suffolk ports were commissioned by the navy as military bases to protect from invasion by sea. Lowestoft housed HMS Europa from 1939, and Felixstowe followed suit with HMS Beehive in 1940. 

As the most easterly point in Britain with the headquarters of the Royal Naval Patrol Service , Lowestoft was a major target for enemy bombing. Often the last point of Britain to be flown over, any leftover bombs were dropped on Lowestoft before German bombers returned to base. 

1940

A brown paper minute meeting.

1940

Possibility of Compulsory Evacuation

Following the emergency evacuation of the British military from Dunkirk in June, Britain faced a very real threat of invasion. 

3,500 children were evacuated from Lowestoft in June, and in September a meeting of the Chamber in Lowestoft addressed the possibility of evacuating the rest of the town’s non-essential population as the threat of coastal invasion grew. 

A black and white photograph of six women sitting on a wall.

Diversity & inclusion

1940

Greene King’s “Bottle Girls”

During WWII,  breweries recruited women into their bottling teams. With many men stationed abroad, the women worked on bottling lines, inspecting and packing bottles. These women made up a huge part of Chamber member Greene King’s team in Bury St Edmunds. 

1941

A black and white newspaper page.

1941

“Save Your Way to Victory!”

As part of the National Savings Movement, the War Savings Campaign was critical in funding vital military equipment, including aircraft, ships and weapons. Local events were organised to encourage people to invest their savings in government bonds.

With support of the local Chamber of Commerce, Bury St Edmunds hosted a programme of events to raise funds and boost morale. The campaign was a huge success – within two days, it surpassed its target of £150,000.

Download more on the War Savings Movement

1946-1974

Global Connections

An era of diversification and international trade for Suffolk businesses.

Cranes, Hutchinsons Ports, Port of Felixstowe (c)
Orwell Bridge construction, Credit to Ipswich Society
Denny Bros photo, Denny Bros Ltd
A newspaper cutting with an image of a group of people standing on a quay.

1945

A coloured photograph of people outside a shopfront.

1945

Denny Brothers founded

In the humble confines of their garden shed in Bury St Edmunds, brothers Douglas and Russell Denny laid the foundation for Chamber member Denny Bros on their 1930s printing press. An army veteran, Douglas honed his craft, printing an array of items from letterheads to children’s colouring books.​

The brothers quickly expanded their business. A pivotal moment came in 1977, when Denny Bros patented the innovative Fix-a-Form label which became a huge success on global markets, allowing information leaflets to be printed as fixed labels on products. In 2001 Denny Bros built their environmentally accredited production site at Kempson Way in Bury St Edmunds. ​

Their legacy endures, and in 2023, Denny Bros were awarded the East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk Business of the Year Award.

1946

Old poster promoting Pacific Coast Exporters

1946

Re-establishing international networks

A collection of letters, received by the Suffolk Chamber in Lowestoft in the aftermath of the war, reveals the significance of the Chamber as a means of re-establishing imperative peacetime trading connections. ​

Click here to download the collection
Old cream coloured document with read and black simple design and typeface.

1946

Support for the ‘Hub of East Anglia’

To support trade in to Bury St Edmunds, the Chamber launched a new Trader magazine, which highlighted Bury St Edmunds as a “the Hub of East Anglia”.​

1952

Black and white photo of 5 brown men in suits standing in a line. They are serious, looking into the camera and wearing turbans.

Diversity & inclusion

1952

Arrival of Suffolk’s first working Sikh family ​

The Singh family settled in Ipswich, bringing their entrepreneurial skills to the county. Members of the Swali and Digpal families initially became property landlords, door-to-door peddlers, and skilled industry workers. They went on to run other businesses, including shops selling household items, food, toys and clothing. ​

1961​

Old newspaper print article

Diversity & inclusion

1961​

Traders Appoint First Woman as Chair​

Miss Joyce Ely, who ran a gift shop called “The Corner Shop” in Bury St Edmunds, became the first female chair Suffolk Chamber in Bury St Edmunds. Miss Ely was appointed in Bury St Edmunds after serving as vice-president in 1960. ​

Read the original article here
Sepia toned photo of a white man in a suit. The edges of his images are faded.

1961​

PCE Automation founded​

Originating in Beccles, this Chamber member business was founded by Ernest James Cook as a boat building enterprise. Adapting to the challenges faced by a downturn in the local tourism industry, they diversified into packaging machinery to become PCE Automation.​

Six decades later, under four generations of family leadership, their factory is still based in the heart of Suffolk, with customers based across the world.

1962

A black and white aerial photograph of containers at a port.

1962

Container Innovation in Suffolk​

The 1960s saw the introduction of containerised shipping at the Port of Felixstowe, marking a pivotal moment in trade.

As the UK’s first purpose-built container handling facility, it revolutionised shipping practices. The installation of the first crane in 1966, boasting a 32-ton capacity, symbolised this transformation.

Today, Chamber member the Port of Felixstowe remains the nation’s largest and busiest container port, with ongoing developments like Berths 8 and 9 catering to the world’s largest container ships.​

Yellowed minute notes. Black and white photo of a white man sitting at a desk, looking at a newspaper, dressed in a suit. He's talking on the phone.

1962

Chamber Patron Ipswich Football Town Club win the First Division title​

The Tractor Boys win the league for the first time, under the guidance of Sir Alfred Ramsey.

1964

Diversity & inclusion

1964

Taj Mahal restaurant opened

Syed Robbani opened the Taj Mahal in Norwich Road, Ipswich in 1964.

It is said to be the first Indian restaurant in the East of England and was a popular dining spot for many locals including Sir Bobby Robson while he was ITFC’s manager between 1969 and 1982.

Robbani retired in 2022, and the restaurant has since closed.

1965

Typed meeting minutes on a brown tinged page.

1965

East Suffolk Line campaign

Instructed by the infamous “Beeching Report”, the British government planned to axe the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

The Chamber successfully campaigned across the county, saving most of the railway line and stations.​

1966

A photograph of a bridge being built, with a large crane. There is grass in the foreground, and the construction is taking place across a river.

1966

Suffolk Chamber campaigned on the Orwell Bridge​

Almost two decades before it was officially opened, the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce recognised the need for a bridge over the River Orwell in Ipswich to support the county’s prospering trade.​

1967

An older black man sits on a chair on a plain veranda with white mesh doors behind him.

Diversity & inclusion

1967

Fitzroy Matthew joins Cranes Foundry

The renowned Cranes Foundry, established in the 1920s, had become a major employer of Windrush Generations by the 1960s. It earned the local nickname “the United Nations” due to its diverse workforce from around the world.

Fitzroy Matthew, from St Kitts, started working as a machine operator in 1967 at the age of 16, and remained at the firm for 32 years.

A theatre logo with an image of a seagull

1967

The Seagull Theatre founded

In 1967, Suffolk County Council converted a disused ex-school building into an arts centre. It was named “The Seagull Theatre” by the local acting group, and remained a theatre and Arts College until funding was withdrawn in 2006.

Following the formation of the “Save our Seagull” group, with patrons including Dame Judi Dench and Desmond Barrit, the theatre was saved and reopened in February 2009.

Today, it remains an important performing arts venue, offering a diverse range of shows, classes and workshops.

1969

Diversity & inclusion

1969

Golden House Takeaway opened

Opened by Hong-Kong born Charles Chung, the Golden House Takeaway was the first Chinese takeaway opened in East Anglia.

The restaurant remains at the same location in Bury St Edmunds today.

Find out more about Charles’ story here

1971

NW 1970s Antique photograph of London: Bond Street

1971

Treatt established headquarters in Bury St Edmunds

Treatt are a trusted natural extracts and ingredients manufacturer, with bases in the UK, the US and China.

The company began in 1886, when its founder, Richard Court Treatt began trading in essential oils on Bond Street. In 1971, the company moved its headquarters to Suffolk, where it still operates in Bury St Edmunds today.

1972

A photograph of a white man. Behind him is a brick wall and a green plant.

1972

David Redhead initiates trade in the Middle East​

As a young salesman representing Chamber member BSP Tex Ltd, David Redhead embarked on his first overseas mission to Iran. David played a pivotal role in establishing BSP’s trade relations overseas, representing the Suffolk business in over 80 countries.​

His vast wealth of knowledge and experience in international trade laid the foundations for the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s later trade missions in the 1980s and 90s, as David provided vital support to the Chamber and its members as they journeyed abroad. David served as a Chamber President in 2002 and was a longtime chair of the Suffolk Chamber International Trade Group.

1973

Faded text document with Ipswich Chamber of Commerce logo.

1973

Britain joins the European Economic Community​

Britain joins the EEC after signing the Treaty of Accession in January 1972.

1974

Faded brown newspaper article

1974

Energy Crisis

As a result of ongoing industrial action, the government announced a series of measures to conserve electricity including the Three-Day Week, which limited commercial use of electricity to three shortened days per week.​

​Amidst the crisis, the Suffolk Chamber provided essential updates from the Department of Trade and Industry to local businesses and gathered information from industry that informed government support strategies.

A black and white document with text and a logo of the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce.

1974

Campaign for Christmas​

With unanimous Chamber support, a campaign was launched to fix Christmas as a bank holiday! The aim was to ensure women working in shops could spend the holidays with their industry-employed husbands, who were on leave at Christmas.

More on the campaign here

1975-1999

The Age of Transformation

The growth of technology, services sectors and the migrant economy.

1975-2.1
A black and white image of old cars parked along the street, a car park and buildings in the background.
Albert Grant
HD2272_153_6_9_3_1, owned by Suffolk Archives

1975

Black and white photograph of two men standing on a construction site of a large building.

1975

​ Chamber Patron BT formally opens ‘BT Laboratories’ at Martlesham​

Planning began for the telecommunications research site in 1968, replacing the wartime Dollis Hill research station in North London. ​

It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, and in 1999 it was rebranded as Adastral Park. Today, the site boasts nearly 5,000 patents and is renowned as a centre of innovation in the UK and houses an ecosystem of over 150 ICT companies through Innovation Martlesham.

Find out more about Adastral Park
A black and white photograph of a modern office building.

1975

The Willis building opened in Ipswich​

This iconic building was designed by world-renowned architect Lord Norman Foster and houses our Chamber Patron WTW.​

​Formally opened by Sir Harold Macmillan, it was a major milestone in Lord Foster’s career, being the first open plan office building in Britain.​

​In 1991, the building was listed Grade 1 – the youngest building in Britain to be given this status.

1977

Black and whilte graphic logo of one white hand holding a black hand inside a circle A group of men and a woman of varying ages stand next to each other. One man sits in a chair at the front of the group.

Diversity & inclusion

1977

Ipswich Suffolk Council for Racial Equality founded​

Chamber member ISCRE was created from the need to address racial inequalities in Suffolk. It became a registered charity in 1996.​ ​Today, it strives to promote policies and practices that erase discrimination and foster equality and good relations among all individuals.

Click here for more about the founders

1979

A photograph of a large building, constructed with red bricks.

1979

New Wolsey Theatre opened

Situated on Civic Drive in Ipswich, the theatre was designed by Roderick Ham and opened in October 1979 as a replacement for the Ipswich Arts Theatre which had opened in 1947.

Today, the theatre is operated by the New Wolsey Theatre Company, with a mission to create, develop and produce a dynamic programme of theatre for people across Suffolk and surrounding areas.

1982

1982

Eastern Angles founded

Eastern Angles is a touring theatre company based in Ipswich.

Established in 1982, the company brings high-quality productions of new writing to the rural towns and villages of the East of England. The group also offers school tours and workshops, site-specific performances and occasional national tours, including performances in London and at the Edinburgh Festival.

Eastern Angles’ aspiration to be radically hospitable aims to remove barriers that prevent people from participating in the shared experience of arts, heritage and culture. They place an extraordinary emphasis on making all people feel welcome and are committed to enhancing engagement in culture in the East of England – to children, young people and an intergenerational audience.

Find out more about Eastern Angles

1983

A black and white photo of children in a dance class. They are reaching into the air towards their female dance instructor.

1983

DanceEast founded

Founded as Suffolk Dance in 1983 by Dr Scilla Dyke MBE, DanceEast is based in the striking Jerwood DanceHouse on the Ipswich Waterfront and has become known for its excellence.

It has a diverse programme, including world class performances and classes, and its digital suite offers broadcast-quality green screen and production facilities.

1987

Old newspaper print article with photos and text A newspaper page with black and white text.

1987

The Chamber founded Suffolk International Trade Group

The establishment of the Suffolk International Trade Group marked a new era of expansion for the Chamber and international trade.

Colourful arial photo of a port.

1987

Associated British Ports invest in Suffolk ports​

Following an investment of £1.4 million by Chamber Patron ABP, a new fish market opened at Lowestoft in October 1987.

ABP have continued to expand its operations to this day, with further investment in the local area and support for the growing renewables sector on the east coast.​

1989

An yellow flyer with pink text. There is an intricate floral pattern at the top and images of a cafe at the bottom.

Diversity & inclusion

1989

Rafi’s Spicebox founded

Born in India, Rafi Fernandez moved to England in 1965. An expert in Indian and Malaysian cooking, she opened her own delicatessen in Sudbury.

Her innovative curry packs quickly gained fame, and she became the UK’s first well-known South Asian chef and author of cookbooks. ​

Watch an interview with Rafi and James Martin

1992

A black man standing in a warehouse, in a hard hat holding a clipboard. There is packaged goods around him.

Diversity & inclusion

1992

Challenger Shipping founded

The UK economy re-structured during the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in the reduction in UK manufacturing. A vast number of jobs were lost, including many people from the Caribbean who had been invited to the UK to work. Left without employment, many returned home.

Charles Challenger set up Challenger Shipping to provide people with a specialist cargo service to transport their belongings back home. A former Chamber member, Charles was pleased to see that although many Windrush Pioneers arrived in the UK with just a suitcase – known as a ‘grip’ – they returned with full shipping containers!

1993

A black and white photograph of a white woman smiling.

Diversity & inclusion

1993

Chamber’s First Woman President

Annette Whybrow became the first female president of the Chamber in Ipswich. This was a significant step forwards in recognising women’s contributions to the economy, and a milestone for the Suffolk Chamber.​

Annette was also a well-respected partner in corporate law at Chamber Patron Birketts LLP, and a pioneer for women in business. ​

1998

A group of people outside a building, holding a banner. Some are holding celebration balloons.

Diversity & inclusion

1998

Bangladeshi Support Centre founded

Founded in Ipswich by a dedicated group of volunteers, the Bangladeshi Support Centre – now BSC Multicultural Services – remains a beacon of support for local communities.

Achieving charity status in 2001, it has since helped thousands of people, providing vital support services and programmes to people from all faiths and backgrounds.

2000-2023

Connectivity in times of Challenge

Suffolk businesses remained resilient, diverse and collaborative.

2000-x2.1, left SCoC credit, right credit to Lina Hogg
An aerial photograph of buildings on a dock.
A women of South Asian heritage sits with her hand under her chin. She has long straight black hair, and a sleeveless black top. The background is light with part of a plant in the background.
First Light CIC

2000

2000

4YP founded

4YP was first established as the Suffolk Young People’s Health Project in 2000, and became known as 4YP in 2005.

Their vision today is that all children, young people and young adults have somewhere safe to go, something positive to do and someone trusted to connect and journey with.

They provide support across Suffolk in a huge variety of ways, from youth work and activities, to presence in schools through one-to-ones and counselling.

Find out more about 4YP

2006

A portrait of a woman.

Diversity & inclusion

2006

First Chamber President of colour

Lina Hogg , Managing Director of Chamber member Picasso HR, assumed the role of President of the Suffolk Chamber – marking a historic moment as the Chamber’s first president of colour.

2007

An aerial photograph of the Ipswich waterfront and docks, with the university being built in the centre. A building being constructed, covered in scaffolding.

2007

Chamber Patron, University of Suffolk, founded

University Campus Suffolk was created from a collaboration between the Chamber member University of Essex and the Chamber member University of East Anglia, to bring a higher education campus to Suffolk. 

Black and white logo

Diversity & inclusion

2007

HighTide theatre company founded.

HighTide is a theatre company set up to support new writers.

Founded in Aldeburgh and now based at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, the organisation is writer-centred, and celebrates the joy and power of new plays. HighTide tours productions across the East of England, and beyond. It runs programmes for writers, schools and communities, and is committed to ensuring people from all backgrounds can participate in the joy and power of theatre.

Among its trustees is the award-winning Black playwright, Juliet Gilkes Romero, who grew up in Trimley.

2010

A photograph of four women in front of a banner stand.

Diversity & inclusion

2010

Suffolk Business Women (SBW) became part of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

With initial support from Suffolk County Council and previous Chamber President Lina Hogg, the already well-established “SBW”  became an integral part of the Suffolk Chamber, dedicated to empowering and championing the impactful contributions of women in business and beyond. 

SBW continues to support business women in our county and has been key to a number of our policy and lobbying campaigns, including improvements to flexible working options, supporting workplace menopause policies, and the creation  of Suffolk Chamber’s gender equality pledge. 

A large group of people, from diverse backgrounds, standing at a party. There is bunting hanging and a flag. An east Asian woman standing for a portrait with boxed medal in her hand.

Diversity & inclusion

2010

Anglo Chinese Cultural Exchange founded

Founded by Lydia Tse MBE in 2010, the Anglo Chinese Cultural Exchange aims to connect local communities with the Chinese culture that is represented in Suffolk.

The charity offers services including wellbeing activities, supplementary school, cultural workshops and Mandarin Chinese lessons.

Lydia also supports international trade delegations with translation services between China and Suffolk, Essex and London.

Find out more about ACCE
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2010

Sizewell C: A Future Milestone for Sustainable Suffolk

Chamber Patron Sizewell C promises sustainable nuclear energy, bolstering the UK’s power supply while significantly reducing carbon emissions. 

Since 2010, the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded the local Sizewell C supply chain, ensuring that local and regional businesses are at the forefront of business opportunities provided by this monumental project. Together, we’re shaping a prosperous future for Suffolk. 

Find out more about Sizewell C Supply Chain

2010

“Our Bury St Edmunds” BID created

A Business Improvement District (BID) enables local businesses within a defined geographic area to contribute a percentage of their rateable value to an independent, non-profit organisation. This organisation then spends the money on behalf of the businesses to provide additional benefits beyond those mandated by statutory authorities, improving the trading environment for its members.

In 2023, the UK has over 300 BIDs, with five located in Suffolk: Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Newmarket, and Felixstowe.

The Bury St Edmunds BID was established on April 1st, 2010, and has successfully renewed for its third five-year term starting April 1st, 2020.

Find out more here

2012

A library, with books on the shelves. Four people standing in front of banner stands.

2012

Suffolk Libraries takes over library service

Headquartered in Ipswich, Suffolk Libraries is a charity which has run local libraries around the county since August 2012.

They nurture children’s literacy, support vulnerable people and promote wellbeing including innovating menopause support services.

Menopause & Me is delivered by the Libraries in partnership with Suffolk Mind and funded by the Department for Health & Social Care. The project includes support groups, classes and online resources, and 50 local businesses have already signed the menopause pledge.

Find out more about Suffolk Libraries

2013

A circular logo for Lowestoft Vision.

2013

Lowestoft Vision Business Improvement District launched

Lowestoft Vision, the Business Improvement District for Lowestoft’s town centre managed by Suffolk Chamber, was established to help improve the trading environment, attract more visitors and businesses, and create a vibrant and sustainable town centre.

2013

The Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce formed.

With integral support from the Suffolk Chamber, the taskforce formed to campaign for rail improvements across East Anglia

A blue and black logo, with a red stop sign.

2013

No Toll Tax Campaign

The Suffolk Chamber led a hugely successful campaign against the proposed ‘toll tax’ on the A14, crucial for the Suffolk economy and trade with east coast ports.

The toll scheme aimed to fund road improvements but would burden both commercial and general users. Following the Suffolk Chamber’s relentless campaign, the government opted for conventional funding and the toll tax was dropped.  

In 2014, the British Chambers of Commerce honoured the Suffolk Chamber with the ‘Most Effective Campaigning’ award for its efforts.

2014

A photograph of a white woman in a warehouse.

Diversity & inclusion

2014

Sarah Howard MBE serves as Suffolk Chamber President

Director of Chamber member, Sarand Business Software in Haverhill, was elected as Suffolk Chamber’s President from 2014 to 2017. 

Sarah has gone on to become both the first female and the first Suffolk representative to chair the British Chamber of Commerce, as well as having a number of other prestigious local and national boards, and governance roles. 

2014

New Anglia Growth Hub established

Funded through New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and delivered by the Suffolk Chamber, the partnership is established to provide support and grants to businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk.

A women of South Asian heritage sits with her hand under her chin. She has long straight black hair, and a sleeveless black top. The background is light with part of a plant in the background.

Diversity & inclusion

2014

Fleximize founded

Launched in 2014, Chamber member Fleximize set out to empower small businesses, helping them to unleash the potential of their ideas with the knowledge, tools, and financial flexibility they need to thrive.

An integral part of Fleximize is their inclusive company culture, made up of a powerfully diverse team including colleagues of multiple ethnicities and cultures, and currently majority female staff.

2015

Diversity & inclusion

2015

Ipswich Community Media launched

Ipswich Community Media (ICM) was launched in 2015 by a group of people with a shared vision to serve the local community through music, media, the creative arts, and language learning. It became a registered charity in 2019.

ICM’s focus is rooted in a deep belief in fairness and social justice, to work with those at the very margins of society to make Ipswich a better place for all.

Find out more about ICM

Diversity & inclusion

2015

Future Female Society founded

Chamber member, Future Female Society, aims to close the gap in inequality for women and girls in Suffolk.

Their aim is to help raise self-esteem and confidence levels, broaden personal and career aspirations and help women and girls in the community reach their full potential.

The organisation supports and cultivates creative women to become the best they can be, and help each other to influence social change through classes, workshops and school visits.

Find out more about FFS

2016

An orange and grey logo of Tech East.

2016

TechEast, delivered by Suffolk Chamber, is launched to accelerate the digital tech economy in East Anglia.

2017

2017

The British Chambers of Commerce launches ‘No More Not-Spots’ campaign

The Suffolk Chamber supported the campaign, which aimed to reduce not-spots for mobile signal across the country, emphasising the importance for businesses and residents in Suffolk.

A woman of South east Asian origin standing in a kitchen. In her hands are two award certificates.

Diversity & inclusion

2017

Lilian’s Kitchen founded

Born and raised in Singapore, Lilia began her culinary journey assisting her parents on their food stall. Her passion for food led her to become a chef, working in prestigious hotels, including Raffles Singapore, and teaching.

Lilian later moved to Bury St Edmunds, and juggled teaching with motherhood and entrepreneurship. She founded Lilian’s Kitchen in 2017, offering bespoke cakes, private chef services and cooking lessons.

Lilian launched her own cookery school in 2021, whilst developing recipes for health food companies and consultancy for a sushi manufacturer.

Unsurprisingly, Lilian is a multi-award-winner and has written for local press titles. In February 2024, she published her cookbook, marking another milestone in her culinary career.

A photograph of an art installation - a large building constructed of tape and cardboard.

2017

SPILL festival moves to Suffolk

SPILL is an arts organisation and registered charity based in Ipswich, a town in the East of England. They create events for the people of Ipswich, East Anglia, and further afield, and work with artists to develop their practice.

Every two years, they stage the world-renowned SPILL Festival bringing internationally significant and ground-breaking artists’ work to Ipswich and the UK.

SPILL also runs year-round events and activities in the SPILL Think Tank venue, next door to Ipswich Museum, feeding their festival programme and developing new audiences.

2018

A beer logo with a tree at the centre.

2018

Humber Doucy Brewing Co. founded

Co-founded in 2018 by father and son, Alan and John Ridealgh, they spent a year converting an old garage in Bacton into a smart brewery, commencing regular brewing in July 2019.

2019

2019

The Suffolk Chamber appoints two Brexit advisers 

With funding from the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group, the Suffolk Chamber appointed two Brexit Business advisers to assist companies in Suffolk with the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Shipping corporation and Chamber patron, Cory Bros recall –
“The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce played a crucial role throughout Brexit for us…the Chamber became a trusted ‘go-to’ for reliable information. We were able to have one-on-ones and group conference calls where they were able to translate and interpret complex regulations which steered us and other Chamber members on what to expect .”

2019

Improving Workplace Health team formed

Partnering with Suffolk County Public Health & Communities, the Suffolk Chamber has worked to improve workplace wellbeing, bringing resources and knowledge to businesses to support people at work.

View our workplace health resources
A large festival stage with a white tent. Colourful bunting blows in the wind. A large crowd stands in front of the tent. facing the stage.

2019

First Light CIC launched

First Light Festival Community Interest Company (CIC) is a not-for-profit organisation, based in Lowestoft, that aims to shine a spotlight on the region, and the wealth of talent and creativity that exists in Suffolk.

Each year, the First Light Festival is hosted in Lowestoft – a community gathering that warmly welcomes those from down the road and across the world to celebrate a unique place at a very special time: the first sunrise of midsummer in the UK’s most easterly town.

Find out more about First Light CIC

2020

A digital infographic of a tree with post-it notes stuck on, showcasing Chamber achievements during COVID-19.

2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

As the pandemic upended normality, the Chamber remained a steadfast support for the business community, delivering vital updates, translating government information, and providing free and informative business webinars just weeks after the first national lockdown began.

Designed in partnership with the University of Suffolk, the infographic above showcases the Chamber’s vital policy wins during such challenging times.

A white man and white woman sit at desk in a meeting.

2020

Kickstart scheme launched nationally

With huge support from the Suffolk Chamber, the Kickstart scheme is launched in Suffolk to combat youth unemployment during the pandemic.

Suffolk Chamber’s own ‘Kickstarter’ remains within our team to this day. 

2021

2021

Suffolk Chamber’s “Ten Steps to Net Zero” campaign launched

A logo with dark green background and yellow text.

2021

Diversity X founded

Founded in 2021, Chamber member Diversity X is a community and angel syndicate supporting underestimated founders® who have the potential to make a significant impact in their respective industries.

The company focuses on entrepreneurs, who are female, people of colour, neuro-diverse, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled, or who are older.

Due to the team’s wealth of experience with start-ups, they understand the unique challenges, so they provide financial support, mentorship, networking opportunities, and resources to help companies succeed.

2021

West Suffolk College integrates Black history all year

West Suffolk College became the first further education college in the UK to teach Black history all year round, thanks to the work of Ellisha Soanes.

She won the President’s Award for this achievement in 2021. This breakthrough work has had a positive impact on the FE sector and beyond.

Read more about this Ellisha here
A large crowd walking along a promenade by the sea. To the left is art displayed, which the crowds are walking next to and looking at.

2021

Felixstowe BID established

Felixstowe BID, a not-for-profit organisation with the aim of enhancing trade and footfall in Felixstowe, was set up in April 2021 after a majority of local business owners voted in favour of the initiative.

Kate Cain, Felixstowe BID manager, launched the successful Love Felixstowe Festival in 2023 to encourage footfall to the town’s main shopping street and seafront.

Coinciding with the Tour of Britain cycle race, Love Felixstowe attracted families from around the county and beyond between the 2nd and 7th September.

Find out more about Love Felistowe

2022

2022

Suffolk’s International Trade Group relaunched to support local business and trade

Find out more about SITG here
A group of three white men and a white woman standing in front of banner stands

2022

Suffolk Chamber met with Governor of the Bank of England

A group of seven people sitting underneath a display screen.

2022

Suffolk Chamber launches a new Net Zero Group

The group is dedicated to discussing business environmental issues and the climate crisis.

Click here to visit our Net Zero hub

2022

Best Health at Work Initiative launched to provide further research and information around employee wellbeing

2022

Suffolk and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce awarded government funding to work with employers and training providers to prepare a Local Skills Improvement Plan

A logo with a blue triangle. Inside the triangle is a sketch of a sugar beet.

2022

Alkemy Distillery founded

Chamber member Alkemy Distillery is a one-of-a-kind distillery in the UK, producing the first UK-grown rum made from sugar beet, rather than sugar cane. 

An espresso martini is in a shallow cocktail glass in front of a colourful menu.

Diversity & inclusion

2022

La Vida opened on Felixstowe Seafront

La Vida is Suffolk’s only drag show bar owned by Leon Richer and run with his partner, Dan Wardle.

La Vida is an inclusive space, and welcomes anyone who wants a fun night out. From drag bingo to celebrity performances, La Vida has partnerships with other hospitality companies in Felixstowe.

Leon’s alter ego is Lucious Leona, who performs there frequently.

2023

2023

The campaign for 5G infrastructure development in the region launched with an inaugural summit at the Suffolk Chamber.

A group of people around a meeting desk.

2023

The Suffolk Chamber launched a Water Resources campaign.

The first summit was hosted in June 2023, to address water concerns for local businesses.

A black woman with short black hair arranges a bouquet of flowers. She wears a colourful jumpsuit,

Diversity & inclusion

2023

Artisan Savant set up

The independent floristry was set up in central Ipswich by couple Sandra and Jones Oviawe in 2023, offering high quality floristry and interior staging services.

A Black man is against a white background. His braids are in a top knot and he wears a plain white top. Orange and black logo for Blanche Park Consulting

Diversity & inclusion

2023

Blanche Park founded

Ran by Jones Oviawe, Blanche Park Consultancy supports businesses and entrepreneurs with fundraising, venture scouting, business intermediation and business development.

An orange tinted image of a smiling Black woman with the text: Unison anti-racism charter. With the Unison logo in the bottom right corner.

Diversity & inclusion

2023

UNISON launches Anti-Racism Charter

UNISON Eastern launched the trade unsion’s first ever Anti-Racism Charter which has alrteady been signed by all local authories across Suffolk. Developed by staff based in Suffolk, the Charter is a commitment for organisations in the public sector to take racism seriously. By signing, they pledge to address the racial disparities in recruitment, promotions, training opportunities, disciplinary procedures and pay.

The Charter is expected to be rolled out by UNISON nationally so other partners and employers can sign up.

140 Years Strong

Your Chamber, Your Legacy, Your Future in Suffolk Business

What’s the future of your Chamber?

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