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Tributes paid to Leonard Ford, Ipswich reggae scene legend

PUBLISHED: 09:42 21 February 2018

Leonard Ford who has died asged 89. Picture: HENRALL FORD

Leonard Ford who has died asged 89. Picture: HENRALL FORD


Tributes have been paid to a man who helped to bring reggae music to Ipswich.

Mr Ford's nine sons including Henrall. Picture: HENRALL FORDMr Ford's nine sons including Henrall. Picture: HENRALL FORD

Tributes have been paid to a man who helped to bring reggae music to Ipswich.

Leonard Ford came to England in 1959 and brought with him a love for records and reggae music.

Mr Ford took this love of music from Jamaica to Suffolk and more precisely Cutler Street Hall in Ipswich.

One of his sons, Henrall Ford, believes that his father was one of the first people to bring Jamaican music and more particularly the sound system - stacks of speakers traditionally set up on streets in Jamaica - to Ipswich.

Mr Ford and his wife Christine. PIcture: HENRALL FORDMr Ford and his wife Christine. PIcture: HENRALL FORD

Henrall said that as well as playing music at the hall his father also liked to dance at the events and had some good moves.

Mr Ford’s music collection became well known to friends, family and the local community.

Henrall believes that his collection came to number over 1000 items that he kept and played in the front room of his house.

His son also added that many people - including Henrall himself - said that one of their endearing memories of Mr Ford was of him listening to reggae and ska music as it boomed through his house and often with the window wide open.

Many users on social media shared similar memories of Mr Ford and his affinity with the music he loved.

As well as doing sets of reggae music Mr Ford worked at a number of well known companies in Ipswich including Cranes, Ransomes and Harris’.

Henrall said that he had been surprised by the reaction to his father’s death: “I knew he had a lot of friends but it’s been quite overwhelming,” he said.

Henrall added that his father’s funeral at Whitton Baptist Church earlier this month had been so busy that there wasn’t enough space for people to sit: “the church was packed.”

Mr Ford passed his love of and passion for music on to his family.

Henrall, who is the youngest of Mr Ford’s nine sons with his wife Christine, now plays in a band called The Downsetters, who continue to play ska and reggae music.

The band have appeared at the Glastonbury music festival on three occasions.

As well as having nine sons Mr Ford had a large extended family including over 50 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

Mr Leonard Ford passed away on January 15 aged 89, he would have turned 90 in July this year.

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