Dad's paint job was yellow plague

WOLSEY'S Gate, a tangible links with Cardinal Wolsey, one of Ipswich's most noted historical characters, is presently surrounded by what looks like a Second World War bomb site as work continues to transform the industrial sites of mills and silos into modern homes and a dance studio.

WOLSEY'S Gate, a tangible links with Cardinal Wolsey, one of Ipswich's most noted historical characters, is presently surrounded by what looks like a Second World War bomb site as work continues to transform the industrial sites of mills and silos into modern homes and a dance studio.

I published a photograph of a group of Auxiliary Fire Service men who were based at the Bond Street fire station during the Second World War.

Peter Carr recognized his father in the photograph and he told me an amusing story of his father's over enthusiasm with a tin of yellow paint on Wolsey's Gate.

Peter Carr explained. “One war time exploit I can relate was the day my father caused uproar in Ipswich. It must have been at the beginning of the war when he was instructed to paint a large yellow letter H opposite fire hydrants to aid location during the blackout.

“Following orders, he took his paint and brush and set to work. There was a hydrant opposite Wolsey's gate and so my obedient father painted a large yellow H on the ancient monument! This did not amuse the people of Ipswich.”

“My father is seated extreme right, his dear friend, Ted Kavanagh, cabinet maker for Titchmarsh and Goodwin is seated second on the left. I have a chest of drawers made by Mr Kavanagh. Both my father and Mr Kavanagh are sadly dead. However, being a small world, I spoke of this photograph to the man I sit next to at matches at Portman Road and he said that his mother was stationed at Bond Street AFS. The caption referred to him as “S Carr, milkman from Woodbridge”. In fact his name was Leonard.”

Most Read

“Wolsey's gate is still a sad, neglected crumbling edifice. I wonder when it will become the centre of the tourist route for Elizabethan Ipswich.”

Wednesday afternoons in Ipswich was like a ghost town until the late 1960's. All of the shops were closed as the staff took their half day off for working on Saturday. The banks closed at 3pm everyday so there was little to visit the town for on a Wednesday afternoon. Shop work has changed dramatically since then. Seven day trading and in some cases twenty-four hour opening is now considered normal.

A trip to the hospital for an injured member of staff in the boss's Rolls Royce was no doubt the act of a caring employer in the 1950s. It would be frowned on today.

These and other memories, like having a tea lady instead of a cup of brown liquid from a less than friendly vending machine, were prompted when I featured photographs of the Ancient House Press, Ipswich, in Kindred Spirits recently.

Memories of working there come from Mrs S Warner of Bramford Lane, Ipswich.

Mrs Warner said. “I worked at the Ancient House from 1958 for four years. Owner Mr Leslie Harrison and his wife used to arrive in the mornings in his Rolls Royce. His wife usually wore a fur cape. I worked in the stationery department selling pens, table stationery, office files, and paper. We also took orders for wedding stationery, invites, and hymn sheets etcetera. These were sent to the printing department, always ensuring we got all details right.”

“I was the junior and one day, when we were selling fireworks, as I put them in a display case the glass cut my finger. Mrs Harrison took me to Anglesea Road Hospital to have it stitched. I was honoured to ride in their car. Head of my department was Mr Burch with Mr Barber, Rachael Motley, and Daphne Foulger.”.

“In the china department was Mrs Hall, downstairs in the book department Mr Green, Miss Schmitt, Margery Gull, Jean Marriott and in the children's department was Barbara, whose surname I have forgotten. We had some good times. There was a small room in the attic where we had tea breaks. A lady used to come in just to make us tea in the afternoon. We worked Monday to Saturday, with half day closing Wednesday.

Reg Shapland of Ipswich, visited there as an electrician, Reg said, “I worked there several times around 1950. I was a very young electrician at the time. I spent many a happy hour there installing presses. I had the job of wiring it. I was nearly finished when I happened to lay my grips on the ink bed, naughty me! The engineer gave me a clip round the ear! I remember the presses that did the heavy colour work. The paper passed along string to give it time to dry with young ladies waiting at the end to collect the prints.

Blob: What is Ipswich's longest established company name? This was question I posed when I used photographs from the archives of the Ancient House Press. The company was established in 1845 as a book sellers and printing business. The name is still in town with the present company operating from the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate. I could not think of an older name still in use and so far neither have any Star readers.

“Bluesville” is a name mentioned when you talk about live blues and rock music in Ipswich in the 1960s and early seventies. I have featured this regular Monday evening event in Kindred Spirits in the past and Richard Scrivener, from Colchester, has contacted me after turning up flyers from those great days when those of us who were teenagers in the 1960's are now “hovering” around a different 60's! We went to the Manor Ballroom in the summer season and the Baths Hall in the winter to see all the great names of rhythm and blues. John Mayalls Blues Breakers, Zoot Money, Graham Bond Organisation, The Steam Packet with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Rod Stewart were all visitors and there for us for a few shillings. Special events included Cream, Led Zeppelin, and the Who.

London based couple Ron and Nanda Lesley were the couple who promoted the events. Richard worked for the kindly couple. Nanda always greeted fans at the door with a smile while Ron was busy organising the event.

Richard said “To me it was always the Manor Ballroom - the Baths Hall lacked the atmosphere and was always too 'municipal'. I remember the Manor was summer and the Baths winter, but looking back at the posters I see that one year at the Manor, December 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th featured The Nice, Livin' Blues, The Taste, Jethro Tull and Ten Years After respectively”.

“The Manor was an intimate venue with a tiny stage which I can recall standing next to for a long session featuring Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker and was seriously worried that my hearing could have been damaged as I had had loud tinnitus for a long time after”.

“Ron and Nanda Lesley were a fabulous couple. He was a man of few words off stage. They would drive up from London with their son in law Brian. Ron would generally take a nap on stage before his 'performance'. She on the contrary was always on the door greeting punters and taking their money. Two of my fliers advertise admission for 25p and 30p! Nanda was unfailingly hospitable even though flanked by about six 'bouncers' all dressed in suits and ties - I can't think why because there was never any trouble at any Bluesville concert. I have no memory of any fights or disorder, only civilised young people getting on and enjoying the local scene. One bouncer I recall was Paul, a gentle large person who drove a Mini and was tragically killed in that car journeying down from Norwich to Ipswich. Another fixture at the Manor was George the caretaker and cloakroom attendant. He would always appreciate the odd half of mild being brought down from the bar, which he would then supplement with a large shot of Scotch from his carrier bag! I often wondered how he managed to lock the place up - Nanda told me she found him once lying out cold on the floor of the Ballroom. Bless!”

“Somehow I started helping to clear up after the lights went up and then came in early to help set up and Lo! I was suddenly on the fabulous Ron and Nanda payroll at 30 shillings per night setting the scene for all those fabulous names. I actually got paid to see The Move, The Herd, Traffic, Spencer Davis, Jimmy James, John Mayall, Chicken Shack and the rest!

Blob: I think there was one winter when the Baths Hall was being refurbished. This could explain why the Manor Ballroom was in use for the events Richard recalls. Have you any more Bluesville memories to share? Write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Sprits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter