Stowmarket is located at the geographical heart of rural Suffolk on the River Gipping. The Town occupies a strategic location in the centre of the county, 12 miles North West of Ipswich and 14 miles South East of Bury St Edmunds on the A14 trunk road. The Town is also served by the main Norwich to London rail link. Originally an agricultural market town, industry developed following the canalization of the River Gipping in 1793, bringing new prosperity to Stowmarket. Today the old towpath forms an pleasant footpath through the Gipping Valley from Stowmarket railway station to the docks at Ipswich.
A population of 1,500 grew to 3,000 by 1841. New markets were now accessible to the agricultural producers of the surrounding area. Stowmarket was one of the country’s major producers of malt and the canal enabled the Town’s maltsters to send their products down to Ipswich and then on to London by sea. The arrival of the railway in 1846 brought further prosperity to the Town but it also brought about the gradual demise of the canal. River traffic inevitably declined and the Gipping Navigation was closed by an Act of Parliament in 1932. Currently the town’s population is in the region of 20,000 people and growing at an increasing rate with much development at the North end of the town. Even though it is growing in size and population Stowmarket still hasn’t lost its charm, with a variety of listed buildings, typical of Suffolk’s towns and villages.
Stowmarket has plenty to offer visitors. As well as a wide range of shops in the town centre, Stowmarket is home to the award-winning Museum of East Anglian Life – one of the biggest museums in Suffolk, a thriving cinema in The Regal, The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, an annual carnival, an annual music festival, an historic church and much more.