Childhood memories of Bishops Hill

LAST week I started the memories of growing up in the Bishops Hill area of Ipswich from Brian Gissing, who now lives in the USA.

David Kindred

LAST week I started the memories of growing up in the Bishops Hill area of Ipswich from Brian Gissing, who now lives in the USA.

Brian told how his father was killed during the Second World War and his mother cared for her young family in a tiny “two up and two down” house at 5 Bishops Hill, close to Cavendish Street.

Brian starts this week by responding to the memories of Eric Ward who asked in a recent Kindred Spirits if any reader could recall the little shop on Bishops Hill which was on the left going into the town centre.

Brian said: “I do remember the little 'green hut' mentioned by Eric Ward which stood, and continues to stand, just across the street from my house. Many a time I, with a few coppers in hand, would go to this hut to purchase items that my mother needed for our dinner or tea. We used to buy our bread from Wakeling's, which was on the corner of Albion Street and Fore Hamlet. Our meat, what little rationing would allow, was bought from either Ungles or Carver's butcher shops. Our vegetables were purchased from Ben Zagni's general store which was located on the corner of Fore Hamlet and Cavendish Street. The bulk of our groceries were purchased from the Co-op which was just across the street from the Gardeners Arms public house. Even to this day, our whole family remembers our Co-op share number.

“There were two gas lights which were located on White Elm Street and on the dirt driveway which is now called Mitre Drive. I used to watch the man riding a bicycle use the pole with a hook on the end, and pull the small chain to turn the light on.

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“I attended Cliff Lane and then Landseer Road Schools. Unlike the students of today we did not have bicycles or the money to pay for public transport. We certainly did not have a rich relative that would drive us to school, so we walked. We were not deterred by the weather or distance which, in the case of Landseer Road, was considerable. When attending Landseer Road School, we walked through Holywells Park, along Dereham Avenue, through a wooded area, across the town rubbish dump on to Landseer Road. “Polly” Perkins was the headmaster, Mr Davey was the metalwork teacher, and “Daddy” Collins was the science teacher. Mr Broom was my class teacher at that time. I left Landseer Road School and transferred to Tower Ramparts School when my family moved from Bishops Hill to 24 Shamrock Avenue on the Chantry Estate.

“We were fortunate to have Holywells Park virtually on our doorstep, however we did venture to other areas to play; usually these were in areas placed 'out of bounds' by my mother. Such places were, the dock, Cobbold's pond, Cobbold's broken glass dump and the sand pit in Cliff Lane, the gas works pipe storage area and 'the orchard' as we called it. Also the derelict fish and chip shop which were just across the street from my house. Southgate's scrap metal yard, or 'Suggies' as we called it, which was on Long Street, was another favourite place to play.

“Unlike today, we as young children, were undeterred by distance or weather conditions when it came to places that we wanted to visit or play. We used to go to Alexandra Park, Christchurch Park, Chantry Park, Bourne Park and Gippeswyk Park. We often used to walk to the Bridge Street area, near Stoke Bridge, to rent a bicycle which cost sixpence an hour. We used to go swimming at the Fore Street baths and the Broom Hill, open air swimming pool. I remember that on one occasion my sister Valerie and I ventured as far as Shotley, travelling on an Eastern Counties bus. We remember this day so vividly because we got caught in a thunderstorm and were drenched by the torrential rain.

“Friends who lived on Bishops Hill were; Leonard Alderton, Michael Baldry and Jimmy Saw. Other friends were; Brian Dean, Jimmy Atkins, Paul and John Plumbstead who lived in White Elm Street. Teddy Betts and Raymond Peck lived in the area of Trinity Street and Unity Street.

On leaving Tower Ramparts School, I started my working life at the 'International Stores, Westgate Street. Mr Brown was the manager; Mr Cobb head of the provision department, with Miss Tricker head of the grocery department. I worked there for approximately two years. Eventually I was transferred to the Chelmsford branch.

- Do Brian's memories remind you of your childhood? Write to Kindred Spirits at the Evening Star or e-mail