Stowmarket is a small industrial market town in Suffolk.
- The town's name comes from the Old English word stōw ("principal place"). A market town (charter granted in 1347), the town still holds bi-weekly markets.
- The town lies on the River Gripping which was made navigable between the town and Ipswich in the 18th century - called the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation. However the construction of the railway to the town in 1846 started the demise of the canal and the canal navigation was formally closed in 1832 (by Act of Parliament).
- In recent years the town's population has grown significantly (from 3,000 in 1841 to 6,000 in 1981 to 19,000 in 2011), something that is planned to continue with further development of the town and surrounding villages. Much of the development has been taking place to the northers side of the town.
- 1 Stowmarket Train Station, Station Road East, Stowmarket IP14 1RQ. On the Norwich-London trunk route and is served by hourly London-Norwich Intercity trains, two-hourly regional London-Peterborough trains and hourly services between Cambridge and Ipswich.
Journey Times Destination Time London 85min Ipswich 10-15min Colchester 30min Bury St Edmunds 15-20min Norwich 30min Cambridge 60min Peterborough 80min
There are regular bus services from Ipswich operated by First Eastern Counties. These run every 20–30 minutes and most run via Claydon and Needham Market, taking approx 50 minutes to reach Stowmarket, although some peak hour services travel via the A14 and take as little as 30 minutes. There are also hourly services to Bury St Edmunds (this takes well over an hour so it is much quicker and possibly cheaper to take the train), infrequent services to Diss and a two-hourly service to Bildeston for connections to Hadleigh and Sudbury.
Everything in Stowmarket can be reached easily on foot, however various areas in Stowmarket can also be reached using the #87/88 buses including Combs Ford, Chilton Hall, Cedars Park and Stowupland.
- 1 Museum of East Anglian Life, Iliffe Way, Stowmarket IP14 1DL (In Iliffe Way, opposite the Asda supermarket in the centre of Stowmarket.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10:00-16:30, Su 11:00-16:30. A large Beamish-esque open-air museum dedicated to traditional rural Suffolk life. Adult £8.25; Child £4.70; Concession £7.30.
- 2 Church of St. Peter and St. Mary. an impressive church that can be spotted from most parts of the town.
- 3 Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, Wetheringsett, Stowmarket, IP14 5PW (9 miles NE of Stowmarket), ☏ . April to the end of September on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Heritage railway that runs between Haughley and Laxfield.
- 4 John Peel Centre for Creative Arts (Arts & Concert Venue), Church Walk, Stowmarket IP14 1ET, ☏ (10:00-14:00 weekdays).
Walk through the countryside from Combs Ford to Great Finborough and John Peel's grave.
- 1 Regal (Cinema, Theatre & Bar), Ipswich St, Stowmarket IP14 1AY, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stowmarket Carnival. Annual event lasting over a weekend.
- 2 StowFiesta (Stowmarket Festival), http://stowfiesta.co.uk. Annual event lasting weekend. Music & stalls
- 3 Mid-Suffolk Leisure Centre, Gainsborough Rd, Stowmarket IP14 1LH, ☏ . Centre: M-F 06:30-22:00, Sa 08:00-18:00, Su 08:00-21:00 (activities have different hours). Swimming pool, climbing wall, creche, fitness gym, indoor bowls,
- 4 Virgin Ballon Flights (Hot Air Balloon Rides over Stowmarket), Launch site: Chilton Fields Sports Club, Chilton Way, Stowmarket IP14 1SZ, ☏ . Book in advance.
The town centre is divided into two sections. The area south of the Marketplace along Ipswich Street features various high-street chains including Boots, Superdrug and Argos. The northern side along Bury Street is more traditional with numerous speciality shops. The Ipswich-based East of England Co-op have quite a strong influence in the town with a Co-op travel agency and a small department store in the town centre, as well as a 'Co-op Neighbourhood Shopping Centre' in Combs Ford housing a pharmacy, a supermarket, a Godfrey's hardware store and a QS clothing store. There is also a large Asda superstore in the town-centre and a possibly larger Tesco close to the A14 at Cedars Park, which has had an effect on local trade. The historic street market still exists and takes place every Thursday and Saturday along Ipswich Street, the Marketplace and the Meadow Centre.
- 1 Bi-Weekly Market, Market Place & Meadow Centre. Th Sa 08:00-16:00.
- 2 Farmers Market, Market Place. 1st F of month.
- 3 Tesco (Supermarket), Cedars Link Rd, Stowmarket IP14 5BE, ☏ . M-Sa 06:00-23:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Petrol & pharmacy (different hours), ATMs, Wi-Fi
- 4 Adsa (Supermarket), Meadow Centre, Wilks Way, Stowmarket, IP14 1DE, ☏ . M-W 07:30-21:00, Th F 07:30-22:00, S 07:30-21:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Pharmacy, opticians (different hours)
Stowmarket's food scene is fairly limited, although the only fast-food chain is a Wimpy and the only chain coffee shop is Costa Coffee which is located within the Tesco store on the edge of town. However, saying that there is nowhere to grab a good coffee in the town centre itself.
There are both Indian and Chinese restaurants in Stowmarket but they're at best average and rather overpriced.
There are several (chain) pubs in the town that do good and reasonably priced pub lunches
- 1 The Oak (Pub & Food), 43 Ipswich St, Stowmarket IP14 1AH, ☏ . Free Wi-Fi
- 2 Prezzo Italian Restaurant & Take-away (ex Dukes Head), The Dukes Head Ipswich St, Stowmarket IP14 1AZ, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:30.
- 3 Magpie, 1 Combs Ford, Stowmarket IP14 2AP, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Pub: M 12:00-23:00, Tu 16:00-23:00, W Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-23:30, Su 12:00-22:30; Food: M W-Sa 12:00-14:30 & 18:00-20:30, F Sa 12:00-23:30, Su 12:00-17:00.
- 4 Cracknells (Fish & Chips Take-away), 6 Needham Rd, Combs Ford IP14 2AW.
- 5 Chip Inn (Fish & Chips Take-away), 5 Combs Ford, Combs Ford IP14 2AP, ☏ .
- 6 The River Bistro (French Restaurant), Wharfside House, Prentice Rd, Stowmarket, IP14 1RD, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Th 18:30-23:00 (kitchen to 21:00), F Sa 18:00-23:30 (kitchen to 21:20).
There are a lot of pubs scattered around Stowmarket, most of which open daily and serve good food and beer, including local ales. Stowmarket has a strong drinking culture and most locals will know each other. The most lively pubs are the Oak and the Dukes Head in the town centre. The Magpie in Combs Ford also hosts a lot of live bands. At current, there is only one nightclub in Stowmarket - Jokers in Ipswich Street. Many younger Stowmartians will head out to Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds or Norwich for a good night out, and a Jokers crowd usually consists of a mixture of young people from the surrounding villages, and an older (i.e. above 21) crowd of Stowmartians, which when combined with poor out-dated music on a tinny PA on a sticky dancefloor causes a lot of noise and often, violence. This place is best avoided, especially on a Saturday night.
- 1 Tall Orders (Cafe), 12 Bury St, Stowmarket IP14 1HA, ☏ . 08:45-15:30. A great independent coffee shop/cafe offering the usual selection of coffee, tea & hot chocolate. Great food too-simple but tasty & made fresh for you. Choose from jacket potatoes, panini, wraps, salads, sandwiches or freshly baked baguettes + specials. Friendly staff & a great atmosphere
- 2 Holland & Barrett Coffee Shop, 8-10 Market Place, Stowmarket IP14 1DP, ☏ . 09:30-15:30. Only cafe not serving meat of any kind set in old building above health shop fresh homemade cakes, clean and very pleasant good value for money reasonable.
- 3 The Willow Tree (Pub & Food), 101 Ipswich St, Stowmarket IP14 1BB, ☏ . M-Th08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00, Su 08:00-00:00.
- 4 The Royal William (Pub), 53 Union St East, Stowmarket IP14 1HP, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 5 The Queens Head (Pub), Station Rd West, Stowmarket IP14 1EF, ☏ . M-W 15:00-23:30, Th 15:00-01:00, F Sa 11:00-03:00, Su 12:00-22:30.
- 1 Verandah House, 29 Ipswich Rd, Stowmarket IP14 1BD, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 The Cedars (Hotel & Restaurant), Needham Rd, Stowmarket IP14 2AJ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Wi-Fi from £64.50 (single/double/twin room only).
- 3 Travelodge, A14 Haughley, Stowmarket IP14 3PY (10 miles W of Stowmarket), ☏ (premium). Check-in: from 15:00 (from 12:00 £10), check-out: by 12:00 (by 14:00 £10). Wi-Fi (30 mins free, £3 for 24hrs) from £45.
- 4 Creeting House (B&B), All Saints Rd, Creeting St Mary IP6 8PR (4½ miles SE of Stowmarket), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 16:00-18:00, check-out: by 11:00. Single £45-£60; Double from £80.
- 5 Bays Farm (B&B), Forward Green, Stowmarket IP14 5HU (3½ miles E of Stowmarket), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Free Wi-Fi from £85/room/night.
- 6 Travelodge Beacon Hill, A14 / A140, Beacon Hill, Needham Market IP6 8LP (Junction of A140 & A14), ☏ (premium). Check-in: from 15:00 (from 12:00 £10), check-out: by 12:00 (by 14:00 £10). from £52.
The landline dialling code for Stowmarket is 01449.
- 1 Post Office, 23 Ipswich St, Stowmarket IP14 1AH. In the OneStop store
Needham Market A small town about 3 miles from Stowmarket. Despite the fact that there is no longer a market in Needham Market, it is still a very attractive town of narrow streets, small independent shops including a hardware store, a butcher, a bakery and an antique centre, a couple of decent pubs and a fish & chip shop. Take a walk along the river Gipping past two historic mills and a large lake made from a former quarry. Needham can be reached by road from Stowmarket (parking at Needham Lake car park is not free, however parking at the railway station is) or on the half-hourly #87/88 bus (journey time 15 minutes) which drops off outside Needham Market church on the way to Ipswich. There are hourly train services from Stowmarket on the Ipswich-Cambridge line which take only 4 minutes to cover the 3 miles from Stowmarket and are actually cheaper than the bus. Needham Station is unstaffed but tickets are sold by the conductor on the train.