Back to barracks

PUBLISHED: 19:03 20 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

SOLDIERS on horseback, the sound of a military drum or bugle, hundreds of men marching in uniform from their barracks. All of this was a common site in Ipswich for over 150 years.

SOLDIERS on horseback, the sound of a military drum or bugle, hundreds of men marching in uniform from their barracks. All of this was a common site in Ipswich for over 150 years.

My recent request for information about this piece of Ipswich history, has brought some interesting response from readers.

From D C Rusher of Kildare Road, Ipswich "The Barracks occupied a site between Norwich Road, Anglesea Road, Berners Street and Orford Street.

Several inscribed stones marking the boundary survive. I have also a copy of a map showing the Barracks and of an entry in the Illustrated London News, dated February 17, 1855, describing the opening".

"The Medical Centre in Ivry Street occupies one of the original buildings."

Brian Osborne, of Macaulay Road, Ipswich, was born on the site of the barracks

"My twin brother and I, were born up Cecil Road, in 1930. The walls of the Barracks are still there, including the brick gate pillars and also the steps from where the Bugle Boy used to stand and blow his bugle."

Fear of invasion during the second half of the eighteenth century, saw the establishment of temporary barracks for up to eight thousand men near to Round Wood on either side of Rushmere Lane with manoeuvres on Rushmere Heath. Two thousand men were employed to build the wooded huts.

This must have had a huge effect on the town's population of around eleven thousand. The public houses would have done a roaring trade to the off duty men who would have had little chance to leave town.

The camp was used as a military hospital for men returning from the Napoleonic Wars.

A report from 1809 had 600 reaching the hutted hospital where "every patient had a separate bed with comfortable bed clothing, and the attendance was entirely adequate"

The burial register of St Margaret's Church shows that 218 men died between September 1809 and the following February.

Other temporary Barracks had been set up in and around town, the maltings building close to Stoke Bridge, now converted to flats, was used. A return to peace saw the temporary sites mostly demolished. Squatters living in very poor conditions used some of the huts.

In 1795 a permanent barracks for cavalry was built in St Matthews's parish close to what understandably has been known since as Barrack Corner. St Matthew's Church became the garrison church. There were large parades there on a Sunday morning.

The first regiment to move in was the 2nd or Queen's Regiment of the Dragoon Guards. The barracks were taken over by the Royal Horse Artillery. It seems the site saw extra building work with the formal opening referred to in the London Illustrated News by Mr. Rusher.

The base remained until 1929. I have not found any record of a formal closing, the use of the site seems to have just run down. The council purchased the site for eight thousand pounds and built Geneva Road and Cecil Road with around 100 houses.

Every trade in town must have been affected. By the time the barracks closed the population of Ipswich was over eighty thousand. Their departure must have come as a blow to traders during the depressed years of the 1920's and 30's.

The huge walls of the barracks still stand at the bottom of gardens around the site; some apparently with tethering rings for horse's set into them. Several broad arrow government marks can still be found round the site.

Barrack Lane still has the gate posts with stone balls on top, reminding us of the thousands of men who marched through them to serve their country in conflict and ceremonial occasion.

Do you have any more information about the barracks? Did your father or grandfather serve there?

Send any information you have or other memories to Dave Kindred, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email me

With picture.

A hardback book has been published from the contents of these pages. Featuring pictures and memories from Star readers of life in the town from years gone by. Packed with pictures and information it is the ideal Christmas present.

The book costing 14.99 is available form the Star office in Lower Brook Street.


Picture 1 (Could hold over)

Steve Page, of Lonsdale Close, Ipswich, sent me this school picture from Tower Ramparts School in the 1950's.

"I have enclosed a rather dilapidated torn school photo of pupils of Tower Ramparts. It was taken September 1958 – big classes of all boys in those days – I reckon they must all be well into their 50s now.

I would like your help to find this group so a reunion can be arranged.

Some names I recall are: P Beckett, S Coote, R Mills, M Talman, J Warren, D Blanchard, A Grunberg, J Davey, C Rudland, P Hart, D Bultitude, J Prentice, D Simpson, T Sporle, C Cooke, P Pryke, T Gibbs, C Collins, D Wyatt, P Bennett, M Roberts, F Phillips, D Swarbrick and others unknown.

Do you know the any of this group? Or have memories of your time at Tower Ramparts School? Get in touch via me at the Star and I will pass on the information to Steve.

Picture 2

A soldier at the Ipswich barracks in the 1920's with a grease gun in his hand. This artilleryman was probably an officer's driver.


Men of the Royal Artillery on formal parade with mess kit laid out and a 4.5-inch Howitzer artillery piece and general service cart. Their uniform dates the picture, by the Titshall brothers, to the late 1920's. The 5th Howitzer Battery 1st Medium Brigade was based at Ipswich until 1935. In the 1880's the Ipswich Barracks was one of the largest artillery barracks in the country.

Picture 4

Another of the pictures by the Titshall Brothers taken at the Ipswich Barracks in the 1920's. Three of the men are wearing artillery grooms' undress tunics while the sergeant has on his every-day uniform. There would have been four or six guns at the barracks and these are some of the horses used to manoeuvre them. The buildings in the background are mid Victorian living accommodation. My thanks to Simon Marriage for the information for the Titshall photographs.

Picture 5 and 6.

The barrack gateposts with the stone balls on top are still in Barrack lane, Ipswich.

Picture 7

This view from the air, taken around 1920, has the church at Barrack Corner at the centre. Part of the barracks are centre top. London Road runs from the bottom left corner with Burlington Road from the bottom right.

Picture 8.

This building at the Ipswich Barracks stood with Ivry Street behind. My thanks to Jan Rowe of Ivry Street for the picture.

Pic 9

This fine Ivy covered building was a main feature at the Ipswich Barracks.

Pic 10.

Members of the Royal Horse Artillery line up on the Barrack Square, in a post card view from around 1905. My thanks to Jan Rowe of Ivry Street, Ipswich, for the picture.

Pic 11

A government sign on the gatepost to the Ipswich Barrack in Barrack Lane is still there today.


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