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Our Impact in Suffolk Seaside Town Felixstowe and Marking the 70th Anniversary of the 1953 Floods

Written by Jack Rayner

21 Feb 2023



4 min read

If you live in Suffolk, the chances are you’ve strolled along the Felixstowe prom and taken in the sea air. But you might not know some of the history in how some of the houses were built.

Back in 1849 we were formed as the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society. Over the years we have played an integral part in the development of various plots of lands and housing estates through Suffolk using a ballot system.

The Society built houses for the first time back in 1866, having already allotted 1,000 plots of land across 22 estates. The Society laid out two new roads, Palmerston, and Lancaster, with 28 houses built and sold by ballot for £145 each.

Society’s involvement in developing Suffolk Seaside town Felixstowe

As Felixstowe began to grow in popularity due to its spa waters and sunny beaches – the Society played a part in adding to this Victorian gem.

In 1884 the Ipswich and Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society bought land next to the Bath Hotel, where fourteen houses were built, and others added on Beach Road, Berners Road, and Walton Road. A few years later the Society bought a ten-acre site for more seaside terraces to be built, at a time when the town was building a national reputation.

Each house built displays plaques signifying they were built by the Society, keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot one.

By the turn of the century, Felixstowe had propelled itself to be one of the best resorts in the country, with the help of the Society.

70th Anniversary of the 1953 Floods

In the early hours of the morning of 1 February 1953, strong winds and a swelling tide pushed the sea to dangerous levels. The result was one of the worst floods in living memory along England’s entire East Coast, Felixstowe became a heavily impacted area of the floods with 41 people sadly passing away.

Our archive reveals that the Society and its members quickly joined the appeal for help. The minutes of the Annual General Meeting, held less than three weeks later, record “the Chairman proposed that the Society subscribe a donation of £25 to the Mayor’s Flood Relief”.

A memorial stands today in Langer Road Felixstowe (pictured below), where tributes were held on 4 February 2023.

Society archivist Margaret features on Felixstowe Radio

Listen to an interview with our Society archivist on Felixstowe Radio to find out more about the roots of Suffolk Building Society and how we helped to shape Felxistowe.

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