Days Gone By - Do you remember the night a fire in Princes Street turned the sky over Ipswich red?
PUBLISHED: 22:32 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 07:05 09 November 2016
Raging infernos that destroyed cinemas and former pubs now demolished - readers have been remembering some of Ipswich's defining moments and the landmarks now lost to redevelopment.
I recently featured a photograph of a major fire in Princes Street, Ipswich, which destroyed buildings, including the Central Cinema, in February 1950, writes David Kindred.
Maureen Groom (née Pells), of Northamptonshire wrote to say: “I certainly remember that night in 1950. My father worked at Eastern Counties Farmers Co-op in Princes Street and was late home. My mother looked out of the front door from our house in Colchester Road and the distant sky was red. When Dad finally made it home for tea we heard the news!
“Incidentally he cycled to and from Princes Street each day and even came home for lunch. Possibly faster than using public transport nowadays with all the traffic!
“Living on Colchester Road I also witnessed the passing by, on low loaders, of the remnants of the badly damaged prefabs where people had lost their lives in the 1953 floods. After all these years those memories return when I now see static caravans being transported.
“Ironically I now own such a caravan on Peewit Caravan Park in Felixstowe near the site where the prefabs were sited.”
A period of 38 years saw three major fires in a short distance of the same Ipswich street. In April 1912 Frasers furniture store, at the corner of Museum Street, was destroyed. February 1932 saw the offices of Shell Mex gutted.
These offices were next door to Haddock and Baines printing works where the 1950 fire started, destroying both the printing works and the cinema.
The Garland public house, Humber Doucy Lane, Ipswich, was demolished recently and Days Gone By featured photographs of it taken in August 1974.
Mel Fleming wrote saying: “I was interested to read your feature on The Garland Inn in Days Gone By, September 27. This was my local for a few years in the early 1970s and an occasional haunt at lunchtime for some of the more adventurous members of the Upper Sixth at the then Northgate Grammar School.
“The couple serving behind the bar in August 1974 are John and Janet Simpson, who ran the pub from the 1960s, until it was renovated and extended in 1982. The update changed the character of what was essentially a village pub completely and John and Janet declined the opportunity to continue there, preferring instead to move to Lowestoft where they took on The Colville Arms in the south of the town.
“I was sorry to see The Garland go but on the plus side The Railway on Foxhall Road is going to reopen, one bright spot in the east of Ipswich after all the recent closures there.”
While Ed Nicholls added: “I was delighted to see a photo of myself and friends drinking in The Garland 42 years ago. The people in the photo are: left to right our Danish friend Soren, Peter Jones, Debbie Pyke, myself Ed Nicholls, Pete Rednall and Mark Hazel.
“I used to play for The Garland football team and the pub was a true local.”
Last month, the EADT and Ipswich Star, relocate to Princes Street, Ipswich and Days Gone By featured images from the last move from Carr Street to Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, 50 years ago.
Rosemary Short (nee Frost), of Long Melford wrote to say: “I started working for the East Anglian Daily Times Company in the 1940s. The ledger room where I was based was a very small room at the back of the building. It had a long high counter where Mr W Warren sorted the accounts while I and Jean Howard and Mr Thomas sorted out the bills on National Bookkeeping Machines.
“Mr Wilson (known as BR) was managing director. I have many memories of a very happy time and much laughter.”
James Dent, of Hadleigh added: “The Days Gone By feature about the move of the East Anglian from Carr Street to Lower Brook Street was fascinating. In the photo of staff in the social club, the gentleman standing at the back, about to take a sip of his beer is, I think, my late uncle, Frank Shaw.
“He was for many years a proof reader for the ‘Star’ and the ‘Anglian’. Once the copy had been checked, it would be time for Frank to call in at the club, whilst the paper was being ‘put to bed’. These were of course the days of lead type-setting and galley proofs - I don’t know what he would have made of the present methods.”
Eric King Ransby, of Holton, Halesworth added: “I worked at the East Anglian Daily Times premises in 1958 and 1959 in the general printing department. I came from the Midlands on marriage in September 1958 to work for Cowell’s. However I felt at odds with what I had been expecting, so I gave one week’s notice on the Wednesday and left a week later.
“During that week I went to the EADT and was offered a job by Mr Wilson. It was the night shift in the machine room with Harold Peake. The hours were 6pm to 3am Monday to Friday. Our job was to finish print runs and prepare machines for the day shift. It was quite a long shift as I lived near Leiston so there was an hour travelling each way.
“All went well until there was a printers’ strike in late 1959. When the strike ended Harold and I turned up for work as usual, only to be informed that the firm was discontinuing the night shift and there were no vacancies on the day shift. The union was consulted, but to no avail, so we were left high and dry.
“I found other employment in Beccles until 1962 when Frank Wardell offered me a job at the Leiston Observer. I then found myself operating an old Wharfdale which had been installed by the EADT! I worked there until 1964 when the EADT decided to print all local newspapers in Ipswich and also close the print works completely. We were offered employment in Ipswich, but two of us declined and went to work on Sizewell A.
“Oddly enough, my stepdaughter’s husband, Paul Mobbs, was a linotype operator for many years at Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, until his job was phased out by modern techniques.”
Val Last, of Ipswich said: “I started work at the EADT in 1963-64 in the Carr Street, Ipswich building. It was a noisy workplace as the printing press was in the same building. I was in the accounts office and the head accountant was a lovely man known as Mac. There were two Joans and one Jean in the accounts department. My job was to hand write and price invoices for classified adverts. There were no computers then. I remember a young Dave Kindred starting work there.”
An aerial photograph from the 1970s of Levington Marina was published in Days Gone By.
And Jonathan Dyke, Managing director, of Suffolk Yacht Harbour Ltd, said: “How wonderful to see Jim Empson’s 1970s aerial photo of Suffolk Yacht Harbour in Days Gone By.
“I have an up to date aerial photo, which I thought you might find interesting. We have continued to develop and improve the services at SYH over the years and have been involved in several local environmental initiatives during this time to maintain and improve the habitat in the surrounding areas, both ashore and afloat.”
Lisa Psarianos, keen to see if Days Gone By readers can help her in her quest for information about a former Suffolk company, wrote to say: “I wonder if anyone knows about the furniture making firm Gill and Reigate, who had a workshop in Ipswich between 1899-1940 and what happened to them. They were supposed to have a workshop in Wellington Street in Ipswich.
“There is nothing about them in the Record Office and I got that address from one of their adverts in a magazine. They had a Royal warrant so must have been well known.”
And Rani Pert emailed to say: “I am trying to find out about Ely House School, 31 Graham Road, Ipswich. It was a pre prep school I believe, run by a Miss Ransom. My husband who is 66, went to Ely House as a pre prep student, going on to Ipswich Prep at seven. He speaks of Miss Ransome with great fondness. So we were wondering if anyone had any info on Ely House or pictures of the school/pupils/teachers etc.”
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