100 years of wheel deals in our town?

A CENTURY ago motoring was in its infancy. Crowds then would gather at the rare sight of a motor car. They were the toys of the very rich, way beyond the normal family budget.

David Kindred

A CENTURY ago motoring was in its infancy.

Crowds then would gather at the rare sight of a motor car. They were the toys of the very rich, way beyond the normal family budget. Even half a century ago, in the late 1950s, few families had a car and relied on public transport for a day out.

Ipswich car dealers, Bristo's of Woodbridge Road, believe their company goes back 100 years and are asking readers of Kindred Spirits to help them trace their history.

Ian Head, managing director of the family firm, is looking for old photos and memories of the business, which his father Harry acquired in 1966. Bristo's history goes back much further, and is believed to have been established in the early 1900s by Walter Bristo as a horse-drawn taxi business from 305 Woodbridge Road. The business as a motor dealer was established in 1932 and has always been on the same site.

Ian said: “I think Bristo's of Ipswich was originally established somewhere between 1905 and 1910. We have some old photos of the dealership since 1966, but would be interested to shed more light on the early history of Bristo's. It's great to think that we are part of an institution that's been in the town for about 100 years and no doubt people will remember visiting the garage in our early days and may even have photos.”

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Ian's earliest memories of the business are from the 1960s, just after his father took over.

“When I was about three, we lived in a terraced house next door for a few years. On Saturdays when my dad was selling new and used cars I used to sit in the passenger seat and watch the traffic go by and beep the horn as you do when you are a child. Later I started working at the garage washing cars and working the petrol pumps, I was about 11 or 12 at the time.”

Bristo's has expanded a great deal over the years, a new showroom for the current Renault dealership was built in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, in 2003 and a new servicing centre opened in 2004 at Dunlop Road on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate.

Can you help with photographs featuring the history of Bristo's in Ipswich over the past century? Do you have photographs or memories of Bristo's? Did you buy your first car from there? Write to Kindred Spirits at the Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

Nap time on desk due to the war

RECENTLY in Kindred Spirits, readers have been recalling life at Morland Road School, Ipswich, during the Second World War.

Brian Garrod, of Nacton Road, Ipswich, has sent me his memories of that period.

Brian said: “My first teacher was Mrs Cutting. She was a very motherly person. I used to stutter very badly, she would sit me on her knee and give me a cuddle to comfort me when I got distressed. In the afternoons we would be allowed to rest our heads on our arms, and have a nap if we were tired, as we often had very disturbed nights due to the war.

“The headmaster Mr Birtwhistle made everyone in the class a recorder out of bamboo. I remember standing in his study while he fine-tuned mine with a small penknife. He was very strict, but very fair.

“I received many a smack on my hand with his cane, mainly for playing near the air raid shelters at the front of the school.

''Playing there was strictly forbidden. In 1947 when the shelters were being demolished, I dragged a length of timber home and my dad made me a sledge, it was used for many weeks that snowy winter. We used to go on the Lairs on the east bank of the River Orwell in the evenings with it. My poor mum had to buy me three pairs of 'wellies' that winter.

“I was a milk monitor that winter. It was so cold that we had to put the bottles on the radiators, but they were still frozen at going home time. We kept our coats on in class as it was so cold, but in spite of this, these were happy days. My wife, Beryl, has written a poem looking back to her childhood in Ipswich.”

IPSWICH, MY HOME TOWN

I've lived in Ipswich all my life,

From birth to toddler, teenager to wife.

There's nowhere else I'd rather be,

Ipswich is the place for me.

We used to play out in the street,

Cars were few, our freedom sweet.

Greengrocery came on a horse and cart,

The baker's van also played a part.

Shrimps were sold by a man on a bike,

Shouting Harwich shrimps, he needed no mike.

At 7.30 the street would clear,

Dick Barton was on, we loved to hear

His latest exploits, with Snowy and Jock.

Innocent fun with nothing to shock.

At school we were taught from the very first day

To read and spell, on Friday's we'd play.

Our tables we counted, until they were learned,

With each success a star was earned.

It was good to be so young and free,

Yes, Ipswich is the town for me.