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The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts

Stowmarket is a small market town in Suffolk. In the UK census of 2011, the town had a population of 19,280 [1].

Links With Peel

Stowmarket is the nearest town to Peel Acres, the Ravenscroft family home in Great Finborough. Stowmarket itself is situated about 3 miles to the east of the village.

In April 1989 Peel attended his first football match since witnessing the Heysel stadium tragedy in 1985. The game was a 1-1 draw between Stowmarket and Histon (10 April 1989).

In March 1997 Peel was invited to unveil a plaque at the ceremonial opening of a resource centre in the town for people with mental and physical disabilities. During the ceremony, the local dignitary compering the event forgot his name (17 March 1997 (BFBS)).

John Peel Centre for Creative Arts

The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts opened in 2010 in the former Corn Exchange building in Stowmarket. Refurbishment continued over the next few years, with funding sources that included a £50,000 National Lottery grant [2]. This work was completed in 2013.

The Undertones held a special concert at the Centre on 30 August 2019, to mark what would have been Peel's 80th birthday.[1]

Featured Bands

Peel was a keen supporter of local talent and often expressed something akin to paternalistic pride in their achievements. Having featured several bands from neighbouring Bury St Edmunds in his programme, he often expressed a desire to showcase talent closer to home: "I yearn for the day when I can introduce you to the Stowmarket sound" he had said on 18 July 2001. Electronic artiste Cowcube was perhaps the first from the town to feature on the Peel show. Although three Cowcube sessions were aired, these were recorded privately in the artiste's own studio. The first Stowmarket band to record a session in the traditional manner were the Vaults in 2002 [2]. They appeared to be particular favourites of the DJ, with Peel claiming on 16 January 2003:

“I couldn't be more proud of them if they were my own children, which blood tests have shown they are not."

(Please add to this list if known)

(Related page: Bury St Edmunds)

Mentioned On Shows

  • 26 July 1979: Peel mentions that the Piranhas played in the town earlier in the year, claiming that they were "the first band to play there in about eleven years, since the Pink Floyd in fact."
  • 10 September 1979: Peel mentions that before they built the by-pass, the town used to crop up in motoring reports because lorries got stuck in the main street.
  • 18 December 1992: Peel says that one of the few times he's ever danced in his life was when dragged onto the dance floor by a woman at a darts club dinner in Stowmarket (to a Whitney Houston record, to his shame).
  • 03 February 1996 (BFBS): Complains that the cinema in Stowmarket doesn't screen new films when first released.
  • 16 May 1997 (BFBS): After watching ice hockey on a television in the studio: "Aggravated assault that is to me. If you did that on the streets of Stowmarket on a Friday night, you'd be looking at a two-year sentence."
  • 07 July 1999: Peel mentions that Stowmarket has no record shops.
  • 16 May 2000: Following a trailer for the Love Parade festival in Leeds: "We're thinking about doing a love parade through the streets of Stowmarket but I don't think we'd get away with it."
  • 15 January 2002: When walking through the crowded streets of Groningen: "It's a bit like Stowmarket I suppose, on a Friday or Saturday night."
  • 12 November 2002: Peel paints an atmospheric picture with words of hearing Roy Orbison echoing through the fog while waiting at Stowmarket railway station.
  • 29 May 2003: "We had a programme a few weeks ago you know, when there were I think poachers shooting deer in the field across the road. And a couple of times when I opened the microphone I could hear gunfire in the background. I thought people will think, 'that Stowmarket is a rough place!'"


  3. Technically from the village of Bildeston, about 7 miles to the south of Stowmarket, but nevertheless a local band worthy of a mention here.
  4. Mark Brady, aka Breeze from the duo Styles & Breeze, was from the small town of Needham Market, about 3 miles to the south east of Stowmarket
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