Stowmarket is a small industrial market town in Suffolk.
By Road Located on the A14 approx 18 miles north west of Ipswich.
By Rail Stowmarket is 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 are as follows London - 85min Ipswich - 10-15min Colchester - 30min Bury St Edmunds - 15-20min Norwich - 30min Cambridge - 60min Peterborough - 80min.
By Bus and Coach 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.
The Museum of East Anglian Life, a large Beamish-esque open-air museum dedicated to traditional rural Suffolk life. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul - an impressive church that can be spotted from most parts of the town. If you're lucky you might also get a glimpse of the famous local town alien, the Stowmartian. He can be seen around the community making appearances at many different events.
See a film or a show at the Regal Theatre. Walk through the countryside from Combs Ford to Great Finborough and John Peel's grave.
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, Argos and Woolworths. 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.
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 several (chain) pubs in the town that do good and reasonably priced pub lunches including The Oak, the Dukes Head (both on Ipswich Street) and the Magpie (Combs Ford). There are both Indian and Chinese restaurants in Stowmarket but they're at best average and rather overpriced. There are several good (and cheap) fish and chip shops, the most famous of which is A.C. Cracknells in Combs Ford. However this has recently been taken over by a Turkish family who own several other chip shops and kebab shops around the town and since then the prices have gone up and the quality has gone down. The nearby Chip Inn is much better than Cracknells (in fact, it has been better since a long time before Mr Cracknell sold up) but rumours and local racism prevented people from going here.
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.
The landline dialling code for Stowmarket is 01449.
The central Post Office is located in the Tesco OneStop store in Ipswich Street. There is also a small post-office in Combs Ford which is currently under threat of closure.
'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 independant 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.