Change through the years

HUGE changes to the area of Ipswich, where the university is now, are still taking place. Parts of the old college building, work on which started in 1959, is now being demolished.

David Kindred

HUGE changes to the area of Ipswich, where the university is now, are still taking place. Parts of the old college building, work on which started in 1959, is now being demolished.

The area around Fore Street, Grimwade Street, Rope Walk and Back Hamlet were once part of one of the poorest parts of Ipswich. The area was known as “The Potteries”, because of the many brick and tile works in the area, was cleared in the 1930s when residents were moved to the new council housing estates like Gainsborough, Greenwich and Whitton.

The roots of hundreds of Ipswich families go back to the tiny streets of poor housing, much of which was built to house the hundreds of agricultural workers who moved from rural Suffolk to find work at the engineering companies like Ransomes Sims and Jefferies.

Most of “The Potteries” was demolished in the slum clearance of the 1930s and the site, where the Civic College was built and formally opened by the Queen in June 1961, stood empty until after the Second World War. Streets like Woodhouse Street, David Street, Alfred Street and Arthur Street and many more were wiped from the map of Ipswich.

Kindred Spirits recently referred to this part of Ipswich with the memories of Brian Gissing who grew up in a tiny house, now demolished, at the bottom of Bishops Hill.

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A picture of the junction of Back Hamlet and Fore Street included in Kindred Spirits with Brian's childhood memories has brought details of life there from D Davey who lived close by as a child at 8 Long Street.

This part of town was not the most fragrant it seems! D Davey said: “I was born in 1921 close to the Ship Inn in Long Street. There were four cottages: the Cobbolds lived at number six, my family at number eight, Cook-Abbotts in 10 and the Allens in number 12. “Close by at number 18 was Patrick's cycle shop. I believe it was my grandad's shop. I was told that he had it during the First World War. Later he moved to Cavendish Street where he worked as a cobbler.

“Near the junction of Back Hamlet and Long Street there was a big brick gent's urinal. I don't know if it was ever properly cleaned, but the stench from that and the nearby Southgate's' rags, bones and skins merchants was awful.

“There were huge rats running around. Just past the Earl of Grey public house on the corner of Fore Hamlet was Joe Taylor's the newsagent and Peter Bourner a barber at 7 Fore Hamlet, then George Rushbrooke outfitters right next to an alleyway.

“He sold shirt front collars which were all stiff and white. Opposite near the junction with Duke Street there were four shops, Alderton's bakery and grocery, Percy Colling's greengrocer and Mrs Southgate's “The Chocolate Box” confectioners, which was previously a wool shop. Opposite was the Social Settlement, which housed the Empire Cinema.”