Days Gone By: St Helen’s Street, from an important shopping site to among the busiest roads in Ipswich
- Credit: OWEN HINES
St Helen’s Street is one of the oldest streets in Ipswich. It is now one of the busiest routes through Ipswich, taking thousands of vehicles across town everyday.
It was once known as St Helen’s Wash, following the path of one of the streams, which had their source amongst the natural springs in the Cauldwell Hall area of town.
St Helen’s Church was built on the site of its medieval predecessor between the 1830s and the 1870s.
The area had many streets of poor housing around Rope Walk, which were demolished in the 1930s and Wells Street, off St Helens Street, was replaced with the flats of Wells Court in the 1950s.
A devastating fire at Handford Hall, School, Ipswich featured in Days Gone By recently.
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Luke Griffiths from Leicester wrote in and said: I was a pupil at Handford Hall when the building was burnt down by an arsonist. It was quite a shock at the time, but as a 10-year-old it was also quite exciting. A few days off school and then we had to move to Bramford Road to the old school building at the corner of Gatacre Road, which is now the Suffolk Record Office, and organise classrooms with lots of donations from other schools in the area. One of my most vivid memories was returning to the burnt out school a few days after the fire with my teacher Mr Cann, who went on to become Ipswich’s MP, to recover exercise books, stationary and tins of paint.
A group of us made our way through the chard condemned building and found the store cupboards and removed what we could, as we made our way out there was a sudden rumble and part of the roof fell in! A few weeks after the fire, I and a group of others represented the school at a swimming gala at St. Matthew’s baths, we managed to set personal best times in our races and win the competition. We were hailed by the headteacher, Mr Ward, the following day in assembly and taken to the sweet shop on Bramford Road for ice-creams as a reward for returning pride to the school!
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Dave Gilbert from Ipswich wrote in and said: My daughter and I were reminiscing recently about the first out of the town centre supermarket to open in Ipswich, which we think was Solar in Sproughton Road. We wondered when this was and when did the others follow?
Do you have memories to share of that part of Ipswich? To submit a letter, in less than 300 words, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org