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Days Gone By: The great engineering firms of Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 09:17 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 23 August 2017

As shifts finished at Craness Nacton Road, Ipswich site, hundreds of workers poured from the factory to catch a bus or cycle home, when this picture was taken in March 1971. Picture: PAUL NIXON/ARCHANT

As shifts finished at Craness Nacton Road, Ipswich site, hundreds of workers poured from the factory to catch a bus or cycle home, when this picture was taken in March 1971. Picture: PAUL NIXON/ARCHANT

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Large engineering works in Ipswich have employed thousands of people - now many of the companies have gone, writes David Kindred.

The Nacton Road entrance to Cranes works in September 1975. Picture: ARCHANTThe Nacton Road entrance to Cranes works in September 1975. Picture: ARCHANT

I have featured Ransomes Sims and Jefferies and Ransomes and Rapier’s in earlier Days Gone By.

This week I have taken a look back at two of the larger sites in the South East part of the town.

The site now occupied by Waitrose, John Lewis and other retail outlets on Nacton Road was home to Cranes.

In 1921 work started on 40 acres of heathland, which was without utility services and on a single track road to Nacton and unsuitable for heavy vehicles.

A group of foundry workers at Cranes, Nacton Road, Ipswich site, in July 1971. Do you know anybody featured? Picture: JERRY TURNER/ARCHANTA group of foundry workers at Cranes, Nacton Road, Ipswich site, in July 1971. Do you know anybody featured? Picture: JERRY TURNER/ARCHANT

Soon after the site had all services and then included the largest private rail sidings in East Anglia.

In 2008 heavy engineering came to an end at what was once the largest private-sector employer in Ipswich.

E. R. and F Turner was founded in Ipswich in July 1837 as iron founders, at a site close to Wolsey’s Gate in College Street.

The company expanded to a second works in 1849.

The office complex at Cranes Nacton Road, Ipswich site. Picture: ARCHANTThe office complex at Cranes Nacton Road, Ipswich site. Picture: ARCHANT

Their Greyfriars Works was on part of what is now Cardinal Park. Bull Motors became an integral part of the company in the 1932.

The company was listed in directories under that name E. R. and F Turner flour milling engineers and Bull Motors.

The company moved some of its production to Foxhall Road in 1918 when the foundry and pattern shops were built there.

The new offices and works were completed in the summer of 1937. The site was formerly the Valley brickworks.

Do you recall the day the fire brigade were called to deal with a fire at Cranes in July 1971? Picture: ARCHANTDo you recall the day the fire brigade were called to deal with a fire at Cranes in July 1971? Picture: ARCHANT

The company continued to operate on the site as Bull Motors until the 1990s.

Housing now stands on this site, which was also home to Celestion speakers from 1969 until 2003.

Photographs of the day in 1965 when Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street, came to Ipswich to visit the Coop store in Carr Street featured recently.

Readers tell me that one of the photographs was taken at the Great White Horse Hotel.

A meeting at the Cranes factory gate in January 1987, when staff were told about redundancy plans. Were you there? Picture:  JERRY TURNER/ARCHANTA meeting at the Cranes factory gate in January 1987, when staff were told about redundancy plans. Were you there? Picture: JERRY TURNER/ARCHANT

Susan Pike emailed in, she said:

“I was interested to see the photograph of Pat Phoenix (alias Elsie Tanner) with five waitresses and a waiter.

“This photograph was taken in the coffee room at the Great White Horse. My sister recognised the painting hung on the wall behind them.

“My parents were the managers of the GWH from 1961 to 1966. My sister and I both well remember Pat Phoenix who was accompanied by Peter Adamson, (alias Len Fairclough,) visiting the GWH.

Pat Phoenix at the Great White Horse in 1965. Picture: ARCHANTPat Phoenix at the Great White Horse in 1965. Picture: ARCHANT

“I recognised three of the people in the photographs. The lady who is second from the left is Jessie Hatcher and beside her is George Woolacott.

“I recognised another of the ladies, but unfortunately cannot remember her name. All of these people worked as extra waiting staff at the GWH.

“I was just twelve when we moved to Ipswich to live at the GWH.

“For my sister and I these were interesting and fun times as so many of the very well know bands came to stay in the hotel whilst performing at the Gaumont (now Regent).

The foundry building at Turners Foxhall Road, Ipswich site. Picture: ARCHANTThe foundry building at Turners Foxhall Road, Ipswich site. Picture: ARCHANT

“ We remember so very well the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Adam Faith, the Animals, to name just a few.

“For two young girls these were very exciting times especially when the Beatles came to stay.

“My mother’s claim to fame was in fact to tell John Lennon off! She thought he was an extremely rude young man!

“As two young school girls we would love to collect autographs from all these famous people.

Turners Greyfriars works was hit by a disastrous fire in August 1911. Local post card photographers were soon on the scene to record the damage in a period when major events, including disasters, sold hundreds of  picture post-cards. Picture: DAVE KINDREDTurners Greyfriars works was hit by a disastrous fire in August 1911. Local post card photographers were soon on the scene to record the damage in a period when major events, including disasters, sold hundreds of picture post-cards. Picture: DAVE KINDRED

“We would leave our autograph books with the headwaiter whilst we were at school, but sadly they were both stolen.

“They would have been of some value now, especially those autographs of the Beatles.”

Mrs Evelyn Wilkie also emailed, she said:

“You published a picture of Pat Phoenix with five waitresses and one waiter. It was taken at the Great White Horse Hotel where she came to stay.

Turners Greyfriars works was hit by a disastrous fire in August 1911. Local post card photographers were soon on the scene to record the damage in a period when major events, including disasters, sold hundreds of  picture post-cards. Picture: DAVE KINDREDTurners Greyfriars works was hit by a disastrous fire in August 1911. Local post card photographers were soon on the scene to record the damage in a period when major events, including disasters, sold hundreds of picture post-cards. Picture: DAVE KINDRED

“In the photo I am standing second from the right and George Woolacott, the head waiter.

“Large crowds were outside longing to see her, she spoke to all of us and was a very nice person.

“We got a lot of well known people staying there over the twelve years I was there.”

Write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or send him an e-mail.

The E. R. and F Turners and Bull Motors complex of buildings is in the centre of this undated aerial view. Foxhall Road is across the bottom of the picture. Parliament Road and Camden Road are bottom left. Homes in Bull Road, Ditton Way and Prentice Way, now stand on the factory site. Picture: ARCHANTThe E. R. and F Turners and Bull Motors complex of buildings is in the centre of this undated aerial view. Foxhall Road is across the bottom of the picture. Parliament Road and Camden Road are bottom left. Homes in Bull Road, Ditton Way and Prentice Way, now stand on the factory site. Picture: ARCHANT

Time to cool down for this foundry worker at Cranes in August 1975. Do you know him? Picture: ARCHANTTime to cool down for this foundry worker at Cranes in August 1975. Do you know him? Picture: ARCHANT

A foundry worker pouring molten metal at Cranes Ipswich factory in August 1975. There does not appear to be any sign of protective clothing as he works in an open neck shirt. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANTA foundry worker pouring molten metal at Cranes Ipswich factory in August 1975. There does not appear to be any sign of protective clothing as he works in an open neck shirt. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

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