Building dams and sliding on thin ice

A Bofors anti aircraft gun and barrage balloons being inflated in the Dales area of Ipswich. An adventure playground at a brick works where young boys could play for hours building dams across streams.

A Bofors anti aircraft gun and barrage balloons being inflated in the Dales area of Ipswich.

An adventure playground at a brick works where young boys could play for hours building dams across streams.

These are just some of the memories of this part of Ipswich during World War Two for Denis Reynolds of Croutel Road, Felixstowe.

Bolton's Brickworks, which closed in 1959, and the surrounding area has been recalled recently by readers of 'Kindred Spirits'.

The area is now covered by housing and industrial sites around Dales Road.

Denis said “I was born in Ipswich and lived at 61 Dales View Road, a new semi detached house, which my parents bought after their marriage in Stowmarket in 1932 for the grand sum of £520!

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“Most of my spare time when not at school, first at St Matthews from 1939 to 1945 and then at the Northgate School 1945 to 1952, was spent playing in the Dales woods at the bottom of our garden.”

“The valley between Dales View Road and the railway line, the other side of Dales Road, was filled with woods and the brickworks with its associated clay and sand pits.

“It was a schoolboy's paradise as a playground especially during the years of the Second World War when the brickworks was closed and we had the run of the whole valley, except on the occasions when we were chased by a watchman who kept an eye on the deserted brickworks.

“The watchman was Mr Chittleborough, although we always thought he was called by the glorious name of “Mr Schiklegrubber”.

“The railway which has recently been mentioned in 'Kindred Spirits', which used to serve the brickworks, had disappeared before I came on the scene. I can however recall the small valley in which it would have been located at the upper end of Dales Road, which was used by the council for a while as a refuse dump, much to the displeasure of the locals.”

“In those days when we had no high tech gadgets to amuse us we made our own entertainment roaming the woods, building dens, fishing in the ponds, damming streams, sliding on the ponds when frozen and on one occasion going through the ice and of course evading the watchman.”

“During the Second World War there was a Bofors gun site on the high ground by the railway, which we used to visit.

“One night in June 1940, when we were tucked up in our neighbour's Anderson shelter, there was the sound of a whistling bomb which landed in Dale Hall Lane killing three people. This was the first bomb to fall on Ipswich.”

“When the brickworks became operational again after the war we then had the sight of the smoke billowing from the large chimney and the glow at night from the kilns. They introduced an excavator to speed up the extraction of clay and sand, which we used to clamber over when the workmen left at the end of the day.”

“There was another area of woodland and a sand pit where we used to play between Dales View Road and Sherrington Road; this is now Sherrington Road park. There was for a time during the war a barrage balloon site there, opposite Broomhill Swimming Pool. Great excitement when they inflated the balloon from a trailer loaded with gas filled cylinders as the balloon flapped around almost uncontrollably in the breeze. We used to sit in the tents with the servicemen.”

“At the end of the war a collection was made in Dales View Road called the 'Peace Fund' to provide a “Victory - Peace Party” for adults and children. It was held on September 15, 1945, on an area of level ground between Dales View Road and Sherrington Road.

“The afternoon was devoted to a children's fancy dress followed by children's races, egg and spoon, three legged, sack, pick-a-back. After tea there was the adult fancy dress and entertainment - puppets, conjuring, songs, piano and dance. There was an enormous bonfire and fireworks in the sand pit and a buffet supper. Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem to end the day. A wonderful time was had by one and all.”

What memories would you like to share with Star readers? Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich.

• I recently featured the railway which served the Dales Brickworks in Ipswich, which

closed in 1959. Andrew Curl, of Strandford, Hampshire, tells me of a family connection. Andrew said “Joseph Patterson (the driver) was my great-great grandfather. He was born in Scotland in 1836 and died in Ipswich in 1918.

We know that he was an engine-keeper in Scotland at Netherton Colliery in 1863. He moved to England and settled in the Grove, Henley Road, where in 1891 he was listed as a Foreman of the brickworks.

The interesting fact is that our family has always believed that he brought the railway (locomotive presumably) down from Scotland with the rail etcetera. This was between 1881 and 1891.”

• With Christmas just a few weeks away it would be good to look back at how we enjoyed the festive season in the past. Lilly Gooding of Maple Close, Ipswich, sent me this photograph of Christmas time at J Harvey's clothing factory in Portman Road, Ipswich, in 1940. Mrs Gooding (nee Harrall) and her friend Violet Buttifant are in the hats on the right. The mainly female staff worked in a former roller skating rink, which stood on the corner of Portman Road and Portman Walk (now called Sir Alf Ramsey Way). A statue of the former Ipswich and England manager now stands at the junction.

How did you celebrate Christmas at work or home in years gone by? Was it more fun without the huge expense of a modern Christmas? Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN.

• A letter from football fan John Forster of Stowmarket asks what happened to a mural in St Matthews Street, Ipswich. The aerial photograph I published of the area prompted John to write. He said. “I was talking recently with a few friends concerning Ipswich Town footballers past, when the topic came up about some murals of various players, which we believe were painted on the buildings adjacent to the old St Matthews Baths. We thought that these murals were most likely painted at the time of "Town" winning the FA Cup in 1978. Do you have any recollection of any such paintings, which I expect were lost for ever when the buildings were knocked down?”

• Do you remember the paintings; were you one of the artists? Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN or email

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