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Days Gone By: Minsmere nature reserve’s days as a site for motorcycle scramble racing

PUBLISHED: 10:08 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:44 05 March 2018

Hill Climb racing at Mumberry Hills, near Westleton, in 1963. The event saw riders racing in pairs up a steep hill. Riders often tipped of the back of their bikes when they misjudged the mixture of speed and angle. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Hill Climb racing at Mumberry Hills, near Westleton, in 1963. The event saw riders racing in pairs up a steep hill. Riders often tipped of the back of their bikes when they misjudged the mixture of speed and angle. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve at Minsmere, is part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty and the Suffolk Heritage Coast.

The BBC Saturday afternoon sports programme Grandstand often featured motor cycle scramble racing. In March 1964 the outside broadcast came from Mumberry Hills at Westleton. Picture: DAVID KINDRED The BBC Saturday afternoon sports programme Grandstand often featured motor cycle scramble racing. In March 1964 the outside broadcast came from Mumberry Hills at Westleton. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

It seems an odd mix now that, during the 1960s Mumberry Hills which is part of the reserve, was used for motor cycle scramble racing.

One of the events was a hill climb, when riders raced in pairs up a steep incline. In 1964 the BBC Saturday afternoon sports programme “Grandstand” broadcast live coverage of racing from there.

Hill climb racing at Mumberry Hills, Westleton, in 1963. Picture: DAVID KINDRED Hill climb racing at Mumberry Hills, Westleton, in 1963. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Scramble racing, now called “Moto-Cross” took place on private and farmland on several locations locally, often close to housing.

Another subject featured this week is an Ipswich day nursery with a reader’s photographs of life there in the 1950s.

The Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in 1954. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD The Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in 1954. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD

Mrs Mary Bloomfield, a reader from Martlesham, has recalled the Montrose Day Nursery, Ipswich, and has sent photographs from her time there in the 1950s. I was a student at the Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, from 1953 to 55, before I went on my general nurse training.

It was in a large converted house with an enormous garden. The nursery was then run by the Ipswich Public Health Department. It had a matron (Miss Manchester) a sister, four staff nurses and eight students in training.

Children enjoying playtime at Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in the early 1950s. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD Children enjoying playtime at Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in the early 1950s. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD

There was also a full time gardener, a cook and a cleaner, although, as students, we did most of the cleaning and washing.

The nursery could accommodate about 60 children between the ages of six weeks and five years and was open from 7.30am until 6pm, five days a week.

The corner shop and off licence, at the junction of Freehold Road and Parliament Road, Ipswich, recalled by Sylvia Brightwell Johnson. Picture: DAVID KINDRED ARCHIVE 
The corner shop and off licence, at the junction of Freehold Road and Parliament Road, Ipswich, recalled by Sylvia Brightwell Johnson. Picture: DAVID KINDRED ARCHIVE

The children were nearly all from single parentage - there were no state hand outs in those days and so a parent had to go out to work to support their child.

The children were very well looked after, having three meals a day prepared by the cook. Most of the fruit and vegetables were grown on the premises. I am not sure when the nursery closed.

Children enjoying playtime at Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in the early 1950s. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD Children enjoying playtime at Montrose Day Nursery, Rosehill Crescent, Ipswich, in the early 1950s. Picture: COURTESY OF MARY BLOOMFIELD

A reader from Ipswich, Sylvia Brightwell Johnson, also wrote in.

The area around Copleston Road, School, Ipswich, featured recently including a small corner shop in Freehold Road.

Riders racing through a pit know as the Bomb Hole at Shrubland Park in 1963. The leading rider is Vic Eastwood followed by Arthur Lampkin.  These two riders were among the best known in the country at the time. Racing at Shrubland Park attracted crowds of around 20,000. Picture: DAVID KINDRED Riders racing through a pit know as the Bomb Hole at Shrubland Park in 1963. The leading rider is Vic Eastwood followed by Arthur Lampkin. These two riders were among the best known in the country at the time. Racing at Shrubland Park attracted crowds of around 20,000. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Apart from World War Two, when I was serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, my entire life was spent in the Freehold Road area of Ipswich. I remember all of the buildings featured.

The door at the end of the Off Licence was the entry to the bottle and jug department. I often took a bottle in there asking for “a pint of fourpenny and please rinse the bottle out”, this was for my father - not me.

Triumph works rider, Johnny Giles, at Shrubland Park in 1963. Picture: DAVID KINDRED 



Triumph works rider, Johnny Giles, at Shrubland Park in 1963. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

My parents bought their first house with the help of the Freehold Land Society. My mother struggled to save half a crown (12.5p) a week for a deposit, such an achievement considering my father only earned approximately £10 a week to keep himself, wife and four children, plus rent, gas etc. There were no benefits in those days.

Prior to World War Two there were at least seven shops along Freehold Road, plus other shops in the side roads, including fish and chip shops.

Local rider Geoff Revett (right) at the start line of a scramble race at Shrubland Park in 1949. Picture: JEREMY REVETT Local rider Geoff Revett (right) at the start line of a scramble race at Shrubland Park in 1949. Picture: JEREMY REVETT

The supermarkets meant the demise of the small shops and changed friendly neighbourhoods forever.

I started work in 1936, aged 14, working 48 hours a week with a wage of seven shillings and 10 pence (about 38p).

Scramble racing at Bentley in August 1965. The event was held regularly on land close to the Ipswich to London rail line. Picture: IVAN SMITH
Scramble racing at Bentley in August 1965. The event was held regularly on land close to the Ipswich to London rail line. Picture: IVAN SMITH

Todays workers, as Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said in 1957, “most of our people have never had it so good”.

Do the subjects featured this week prompt memories for you? To submit a letter, in less than 300 words, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk

Racing was held in the grounds of Hintlesham Hall in the 1960s. This photograph was taken there in 1967. Picture: DAVID KINDRED Racing was held in the grounds of Hintlesham Hall in the 1960s. This photograph was taken there in 1967. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

A section of the crowd watching racing in the grounds of Hintlesham Hall in August 1967. Were you there? Picture: DAVID KINDRED A section of the crowd watching racing in the grounds of Hintlesham Hall in August 1967. Were you there? Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Dave Bickers from Coddenham won several major titles in the world of scramble racing, including six British Championship titles between 1960 and1966 and two European titles in 1960 and 61. This photograph was taken at Hintlesham in August 1967. Picture: DAVID KINDRED Dave Bickers from Coddenham won several major titles in the world of scramble racing, including six British Championship titles between 1960 and1966 and two European titles in 1960 and 61. This photograph was taken at Hintlesham in August 1967. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

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