Days Gone By - Do you remember ‘Del Boy’ trader at Ipswich greyhound track?

Stockings ladies? A market trader on the greyhound track site off London Road, Ipswich, in the 1950s

Stockings ladies? A market trader on the greyhound track site off London Road, Ipswich, in the 1950s.

This week I feature readers’ memories of subjects featured in recent Days Gone By columns, writes David Kindred.

Included are greyhound racing in Ipswich, the Felixstowe boating lake, Amberfield School – when it was based in Crofton Road, Ipswich – the Hippodrome Theatre, Frederick Tibbenham’s cabinet makers, and a closed Ipswich public house, the British Lion, one of the many that were in the Princes Street area of Ipswich.

Tony Grey, of Crowfield, tells us about a market trader who worked from the site of the greyhound stadium off London Road, Ipswich.

Tony says one of the traders moved to Dogs Head Street, Ipswich, to run Jack’s Bargain Stores. A directory for 1964/5 lists the shop at numbers 17 and 19. The shop closed and the site was cleared to build Sainsbury’s shop. Do you have any memories of this character who would make “Del Boy” look shy and retiring?

The British Lion was originally a beer house at the junction of Princes Street and Edgar Street, Ipswich.

That building was demolished around 1860 and replaced with the British Lion Hotel, which was later extended and another floor added. The hotel closed and was demolished in 1972 when the site was cleared to build the Willis glass-clad offices.

I asked readers for their memories of small Ipswich schools. June Harris attended Amberfield School in Crofton Road, Ipswich, and Lynwood House School in Hatfield Road.

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June Harris (nee Goldsmith), of Ipswich said: “I went to Amberfield School for, I think, about two years, it was then in Crofton Road, Ipswich.

“I remember Miss Eleanor Roberts, Miss Margaret Roberts and Miss Gertrude Roberts, (which I think were three sisters), Mrs Sothers, who was very kind and I think a Miss Garrod. I don’t remember the cook’s name, but she made lovely milk puddings.

“If we had to go down the air raid shelter we then had to read or learn tables etc.

“The school was two houses, one the home of Miss Roberts and one the school.

“The only pupils’ names I remember are: Rosemary Sargeant, Heather Finch, Beverly Bell, Judy Barefoot, Charian Platts, Annette Squirrel. Their surnames might not be correct.

“I then attended Lynwood House School, Hatfield Road, Ipswich, in the late 1940s. There was Mrs Gould, a lovely old lady whose daughter, Miss Ruby Gould, was headteacher, other teachers were: Mrs Chipperfield, Miss Laura Parfitt and, I think, a Miss Margaret Croucher. The uniform was navy and red. The blazers were navy with red piping and the tie was red and navy stripes. I still have mine somewhere!

“The pupils I remember were: Joyce Parry, Sheila Sewell, Dorothy Hearn, Pat Chandler, Veronica Rudman, Valerie Robinson, Audrey Baker, Audrey Bloomfield, Pat French, Pamela Andrews, Angela Andrews, Maureen Abbot, Hilary Abbott, Mary Kett, John Kett and Brenda Last.

“I remember, if you sat near the windows in the winter, you could see the 2A trolley bus along Hatfield Road and if it was frosty sparks would fly from the wires.

There have been some changes in Hatfield Road, but not many.”

A Crowfield reader recalls the Greyhound Stadium and market site in Ipswich, which featured in Days Gone By a few weeks ago.

Tony Grey, of Crowfield, said: “My father started work at the stadium, just prior to the war, as a kennel man. He cycled every day from Woodbridge to Ipswich and back at the end of the day. After the war he went back to work at the track, but as they then rented a house in Ipswich, off the track owner, he no longer had to cycle from Woodbridge.

“His job was to exercise the dogs which were kennelled there, perhaps all week - the owners coming from all parts of the country, especially the London area. On race nights he would operate the traps.

“At the back of the stands and bar area there was a large building which they used as a store and rest room. Beside this building was a large copper to cook the dogs’ food, which mainly consisted of meat, meal and bread.

“My favourite memory was on a Sunday morning, after a Saturday evening meeting, when I was allowed to go under the main stand to see if I could find any money which had dropped through the gaps where people stood. Some Sundays were better than others, pennies, sixpences, two shillings and half crowns (old money). On rare occasions there could be ten shilling or one pound notes.

“In the early fifties, on Saturday mornings, a man from London parked a lorry on some land just inside the stadium gates and auctioned off bunches of bananas and fruit, these were still in short supply in the shops. He also auctioned tea sets, dinner sets, towels and bed linen. He eventually opened Jacks, a shop in Dogs Head Street, Ipswich, which was stocked with goods you could buy. Then twice a day he would hold auctions for sweets, household goods, linen etc. The shop was always packed, he was a character.”

A 1953 picture in Days Gone By of pupils at the School of Commerce and Social Studies in Argyle Street, Ipswich, has prompted memories from readers.

Mrs F Girling, said: “I love reading your articles of events that have happened in the past, especially when one has lived throughout that era, the memories come flooding back. The photo published on Tuesday, February 2, was particularly interesting. It was sent in by Sheila Bullard, showing staff and students at the Ipswich School of Commerce and Social Studies in Argyle Street, in October, 1953.

“I was quite excited to see Mr Lacey, a member of staff who taught us shorthand and typing at Priory Heath Secondary school. I always looked forward to this lesson, which was once a week, as he was such a charming and charismatic person. Not only did he teach shorthand typing, but he would play the piano in the main hall, and he was fantastic!

“Needless to say, I was so upset when some years later I heard he had passed away. So to see him again pictured on the front line, made my day! Also, a close friend of mine, Yvonne, who worked alongside me at work as a shorthand typist, and is still in touch, was on the photo.”

Days Gone By featured the Hippodrome Theatre, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, a few weeks ago. An Ipswich reader remembers her childhood visits there.

Dorothy Ablett, Ipswich, said: “I remember the Hippodrome Theatre in St Nicholas Street. We lived in Kirton and each year, over the Christmas season, we would go to Ipswich Hippodrome to see Snow White or Cinderella.

“The bus would drop us at the Old Cattle Market and it was only a short walk to the theatre. We enjoyed the show! Half way through there would be a break to buy ice creams. I think they were sixpence in old money. What a treat as sweets were still rationed in those days. When the show was over the bus would be waiting to take us home, tired, but happy.”

Wendy Betts said: “I always enjoy reading about Ipswich particularly in the late 1940s and early 1950s. My grandma lived in Edgar Street, off Princes Street, and we spent most of our holidays with her as we lived in Norwich. She lived opposite the British Lion Pub. The door to the bar was thirteen steps from her front door!

“I used to lay in bed at night with grandma and sing along to the piano playing in the bar. From her front door we could see the bottom of Curriers Lane where there used to be a big Michelin Man inflated advertising sign. Grandma’s cellar, where the coal was kept, was often flooded as was Princes Street. My aunt lived in Burrell Road and was often flooded out, there was a mark half-way up her walls where the water came to.

“My dad moved to Norwich to be in the city police and I moved to Ipswich in 1965 when my husband moved here for work. Thank you for all your interesting articles.”

Peter Driver has sent me photographs taken at Monewden. He said: “I thought you may be interested in these photographs taken in 1973 at Monewden.

“The first two show a real character who called annually to sharpen knives, shears or lawn mowers. If I remember correctly, he usually had a lady with him who did the talking and took the money. I have no idea who he was or where he came from, but would love to know. The photograph was taken outside Rose Cottage in Honeypot Lane where we lived for 45 years.

“The other two pictures were of the Bickers bus that took our children to Earl Soham school, driven by Mr Parker, a real gentleman whom the youngsters really liked. I have to say it was a bit of an antique nearly 50 years ago, but I can’t remember it ever breaking down and it was the correct size to negotiate the narrow lanes in this area.”

Ipswich cabinet making firm Frederick Tibbenham Ltd featured recently.

John Disbery said: “I have been interested in the recent mention of Frederick Tibbenham Ltd and the photos of propeller production during the two World Wars. I was also interested in the letters from Neil Rogers and Malcolm Atkins who relate that they worked for Tibbenhams in the 1970s.

“This could only have been a remnant of the firm that had its factory in Turrett Lane as that ceased to exist in the early 1950s when it was sold/taken over by Nathan Agran Ltd, who had similar factories in the east end of London. Agran Ltd subsequently closed the Ipswich factory at the end of 1955 and transferred production to London. The Ipswich premises were demolished and the site eventually became the offices and printing works of Archant, publishers of the EADT and Ipswich Star.

“I still have the apprenticeship indenture of my late father, Frederick, who started work at ‘Tibbys’ in January 1917 at two shillings a week, rising by increments of two shillings a week each year for seven years until “Apprenticeship duly completed, proved a capable workman” on May 25, 1923.

“Dad was one of the lucky ones who held onto his job right through the 20s and 30s when so many tradesmen were laid off and forced onto the dole. However, when Agrans closed the Ipswich factory, the whole workforce were paid their week’s money and that was it – nearly 40 years and not a penny more, no redundancy packages in those days. Dad was lucky again and went straight to Titchmarsh & Goodwins in Back Hamlet.”

Photographs of the Felixstowe yacht pond and boating lake were published in Days Gone By recently.

Stephanie Brand said: “My father was born in 1917 and grew up in the Alpe Street area of Ipswich. He was a choir boy at St Matthew’s Church and apparently earned pocket money for singing in the church. As his family had a beach hut out near the Martello Tower they spent a lot of time in Felixstowe and he saved his earnings and bought a yacht to sail on the yacht pond. The yacht was built by a local model yacht builder who worked from a hut near the yacht pond. If I remember correctly it cost him eleven shillings and sixpence.

“The beach hut tradition continued in the family and as children we also spent much time at Felixstowe and at least twice a year the model yacht was taken to the yacht pond for a sail. Before then however the yacht had to float in a bath of cold water for several days for the timbers to swell.

“My father died in 2004, aged 87, but I still have the boat, which I had restored after his death. It is now on a wall in my house and very handsome it is too. It last sailed it on the Woodbridge yacht pond in about 2005. Over the last few years I have rarely been to Felixstowe, but the state of that once lovely area still saddens me. Who could forget the paddle boats too!

“Also in a recent Days Gone By I was pleased to note that the family of Rod Cross also referred to the Corporation trolley buses as “trams”. So far as my grandfather was concerned any green bus was a tram and always would be!”

Days Gone By regular, Rod Cross said: “Felixstowe may have changed out of all recognition of late, but the image I retain from days spent there in the 50s and 60s is of a traditional seaside resort with a four-mile-long seafront and a promenade stretching from the Manor Hotel to well past the Spa Pavilion.

“Attractive Victorian and Edwardian houses and hotels looked down over beautifully maintained seafront gardens and a sand and shingle beach. There was the pier, countless beach huts and a whole variety of seaside attractions including the amusement park, the model railway and, of course, what was once the largest yacht pond in East Anglia.

“I was reminded of the latter by the set of photographs in Days Gone By, which show the yacht pond in its heyday during the early part of the last century. I obviously don’t remember that far back, but I do recall that in my day, it was immensely popular and fulfilled a dual function as both a yacht pond and a boating lake.

“Retaining its original wasp-waisted shape and with a depth of about three feet, it was ideal for the brightly-coloured pedalo boats that could be hired throughout the day-time in the summer months. Unlike the pedalos seen today at continental resorts, where riders sit high in the water and propel it with their feet, these had a little handle on either side which had to be rotated manually to make any forward progress. It was quite tiring, especially pedalling solo, but there was never any danger of a high-speed collision!

“After about 15 minutes the operator would pick up a megaphone and inform the world you had to return to base. It may sound a trifle clichéd but he did actually use the words, ‘Come in, Number Six.’ What I’m less certain about is whether he also added the time-honoured phrase, ‘…your time is up!’

“Of course the trick was to ensure that one was in the centre of the lake when summoned. This meant one could enjoy an extra few minutes leisurely making one’s way back to shore where an assistant would be waiting to grab the rope to ensure you didn’t pedal off back into the sunset.

“Once the boats were safely tied up for the night, the boating lake was transformed into a yacht pond. Both rookie yachtsmen and fully paid-up members of Felixstowe Model Yacht Club would sail their craft, providing quite a spectacle for those perched on the low surrounding wall.

“Rather surprisingly, at particular times of the year, the pond was also teeming with fish – not the type that might be caught by the all-night fisherman down on the beach, but wriggly little sticklebacks that fought to get into one’s jam-jar when it was dragged along just below the surface. I once took a jarful home, but they served no useful purpose, so I poured them down the sink.

“Although I’ve not been to the old yacht pond for decades, I believe, that in more recent times, it was split into two. In recent years one half was used for electric-powered boats and was emptied and cleaned every winter, while the other half was used as a car racing track. Now, by all accounts, this once popular feature of the sea-front is a complete eyesore.

“In the Days Gone By feature referred to above, it was stated that the whole area is about to be revamped with plans costing over £100,000. Time moves on and pedalo boats and model yachts might not have the appeal they once did. However, I hope that whatever replaces the original yacht pond provides an equal amount of fun and entertainment without being brash and tacky. Felixstowe was never meant to be that kind of resort.”

John Oakes emailed to say: “Seeing reference to the Felixstowe yacht pond reminds me of a guest house holiday with my grandmother, mother and younger brother in the summer of 1952 when I was six.

“I used to spend so much time in the paddle boats that the man in charge allowed me to stay on there while he went to lunch and I had the pond to myself. (What would Health and Safety say about now?) The photograph is of me in “Gruff” during one of the lunchtime sessions. The paddle boats were great fun, very manoeuvrable and good exercise for developing the arm muscles, also more environmentally-friendly than the battery powered replacements that eventually superseded the paddle boats.”

Our gallery, above, also shows some other great photos from Ipswich’s past.

Bananas were a special treat in the 1950s. And the trader in our photo seems to have attracted quite a crowd at the market held on the greyhound track site off London Road. Can you tell us more about this picture?

Antoher shows workmen at the junction of Civic Drive and Princes Street, Ipswich, in February 1965, as the roundabout and pedestrian underpass was being built.

The Greyfriars development on the right was then being built. The British Lion Hotel is in the left background at what was the junction of Princes Street and Edgar Street.

Edgar Street was lost during the mid 1960s redevelopment of the area. Do you have memories to share of the British Lion, Edgar Street or any of the other streets mostly lost to the redevelopment of the Princes Street area of Ipswich in the 1960s?

Did you travel to school on a Bickers bus? We have found an old photo of one - do you remember them?

Email your memories to David Kindred.