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Now and then: How Google Maps has documented changes to Suffolk towns over the last decade




The landscape of Suffolk's towns has changed dramatically over the centuries – with developments of the modern world adding to the land as technology has advanced.

While we might not be able to visualise exactly how certain places have transformed since centuries past, thanks to the tech we now have at our fingertips, we can see the more recent changes with just the click of a few buttons.

Google Maps 'street view' allows us to glimpse back through time at how some parts of Suffolk have changed over the past decade or so.

How has Suffolk changed in the last decade as shown by Google Maps? Pictures: Google Maps
How has Suffolk changed in the last decade as shown by Google Maps? Pictures: Google Maps

It's not a long period of time, but you may be surprised at how much has changed since 2009, when a lot of places were first snapped by Google Maps.

We're taking a look at just a few of those places that have seen changes over the last 11 years or so – take a look at these before and after images by holding and dragging the white spot in the middle of the images to see how things have changed.

Station Hill, Bury St Edmunds

This area of Bury St Edmunds has seen a vast amount of development over the last decade.

Back in 2009, when the Google Maps team visited Station Hill, Furniture Direct, Bury Tyre Centre and Club Brazilia were part of the landscape.

Club Brazilia, which was formerly known as Reflex, was one of the most popular clubs in the town for more than 20 years.

Apart from attracting up to 600 people on a club night during the 80s and 90s, the club also played host to stars such as Westlife, and even Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley and Boy George played DJ sets there.

By 2018, these buildings had disappeared from the scene.

The businesses had left the site in October 2016 and demolition was completed around late April 2017 to pave the way for 135 new apartments to be built.

St Olaves Road, Bury St Edmunds

Staying in Bury, the site of the former Merry Go Round pub, in St Olaves Road, was a popular venue for live music.

After it closed, the pub was destroyed in an arson attack in 2001. The first picture from 2009 shows the land where the pub used to be.

Fast-forward to 2018, and Google Maps shows the Havebury development which now occupies the site.

Felixstowe Pier, Felixstowe

Meanwhile on the coast, we can see the huge changes made to Felixstowe Pier over the last decade.

Back in 2009, the Google Maps team captured the scene around Felixstowe Pier – which dates back to 1905.

According to the National Piers Society, in 2012 there were plans to demolish the pier and replace it with a new one, with numerous repairs needed to the structure.

The £3m revamp to Felixstowe's pier finally got under way in October 2016, and visitors were welcomed back to the upgraded pier in July 2017.

A year later, in October 2018, Google Maps snapped the town's new pier for its street view service.

Martello Park, Felixstowe

While we're in Felixstowe, at the other end of the seafront is Martello Park, which has also been upgraded in the last decade.

When the area was first captured by the Google Maps team in 2009, the area was home to a number of beach huts.

In the eight years between then and the most recent image of the landscape near Sea Road, from 2018, a new play area has been installed.

East Suffolk Council and the Coastal Communities Fund has funded a number of investments in the South Seafront area of the town in recent years, including new homes, new car parking facilities and the play area.

Withersfield Road, Haverhill

In Haverhill, Google Maps shows how one part of a residential street has transformed over the years.

Back in 2010, Withersfield Road was home to bungalows, as can be seen in the below photos.

But by 2017, the street scene had changed pretty dramatically, and that land is now home to a modern block of flats by Havebury Housing – which street view also shows were under construction during 2014 and 2015.

Key Street, Ipswich

In 2009, Ipswich's Key Street looked a little different to how it does now.

That's because a Premier Inn was added to the Waterfront area and opened in early 2013 – and new nearby apartments weren't quite complete.

When Key Street was photographed again for Google Maps again in 2019, these new developments were now a firm fixture of the scenery.

Stoke Quay, Ipswich

Nearby, the view from St Peter's Dock of Stoke Quay has changed massively over the last decade.

It's a similar story here, in that what was pictured there in 2009 was very different when Google Maps captured the scene again in 2015, with a large residential development in situ.

There are now a number of apartment complexes across the way from St Peter's Dock.

It's fair to say there's been some investment in the Waterfront area of Ipswich in recent years with numerous new developments, and these two Google Maps snapshots are just a glimpse into how the area has changed.

Clapham Road South, Lowestoft

Moving to Lowestoft, and Google Maps shows the development of another residential property.

On Clapham Road South, close to a roundabout linked to the A47, street view shows the progress of a block of flats over the last 10 years.

As the below slider shows, when the area was first captured by Google Maps in 2009, a commercial premises could be seen close to the roundabout.

The most recent photo of the land, from 2019, shows that a block of apartments has since been built there.

For anyone who might be interested, street view shows the progress of the development on a number of occasions – with work having started by November 2015, and it was almost complete by August 2016.

Gunton Wood Burial Park, Lowestoft

Away from the hustle and bustle of town centres, we can also see how areas of greenery have changed in recent years.

Among these, Google Maps shows how Lowestoft's Gunton Wood looks very different to how it did more than 10 years ago.

As well as the nature reserve, which is looked after by the Woodland Trust and the Gunton Wood Community Project, the woodland is now home to a natural burial park at Hubbard's Loke.

When the first picture was taken in 2009, the burial park had not yet been created – it opened to the public in January 2016, and can be seen on the street view image from 2019.

National Horse Racing Museum, Newmarket

The Palace House estate has its own long history, dating back a few hundred years – with the museum being located at Newmarket's most historic racing yard.

While it is only Palace Street's more recent heritage that can be seen via Google Maps street view, that doesn't make it any less interesting.

Back in 2010, the buildings on Palace Street looked to be boarded up, but the more recent image, from 2019, shows it as what it is now – the National Horse Racing Museum, which was formally opened by the Queen in 2016.

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