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Days Gone By - When Cranfield Brothers mills dominated Ipswich Docks

PUBLISHED: 16:54 04 April 2017

An aerial view of part of Ipswich Dock from over Stoke Bridge in June 1971. Picture: David Kindred/Archant

An aerial view of part of Ipswich Dock from over Stoke Bridge in June 1971. Picture: David Kindred/Archant

Archant

Cranfield Brothers first built at Ipswich Docks, close to Stoke Bridge, back in 1884, writes David Kindred as he takes his weekly look back at the history of Ipswich.

A grain ship at Cranfields Mill in 1960. Picture courtesy of Brian Jepson/Ipswich Maritime TrustA grain ship at Cranfields Mill in 1960. Picture courtesy of Brian Jepson/Ipswich Maritime Trust

In 1906 the mill was completely rebuilt on the site. Just five years later another mill came into operation.

In the early decades of the 20th century grain from around the world, including Australia and the West Coast of America, was brought to Ipswich by large sailing ships, which were lightened at Butterman’s Bay, near Pin Mill, so the ships could enter the dock.

In the 1950s grain was unloaded at Cliff Quay and Cranfield’s own fleet of barges would bring the cargo to the mills, as this part of the dock was too shallow for larger ships.

Until the late 1970s grain was stored in barges at the dock. In more recent decades more local grain was used and was brought to the mills by lorry.

A wall, of one of CranfieldÕs silos at Ipswich Dock, collapsed in 1897 spilling hundreds of tons of grain into the dock and blocked the quay.
A wall, of one of CranfieldÕs silos at Ipswich Dock, collapsed in 1897 spilling hundreds of tons of grain into the dock and blocked the quay.

In May 1972 Cranfields was acquired by Associated British Foods Ltd. The mill became part of Allied Mills, the need for heavy capital investment, together with the limited space for future expansion at the Dock, led to the decision in the 1990s to close Cranfields.

The first departments were closed in October 1998, and business ceased in December 1999.

Much of the former Cranfield’s site has been demolished and the site redeveloped. Their building, facing the junction of College Street and Key Street, is presently being redeveloped as flats.

A barge loaded with gain at CranfieldÕs Ipswich Mill in 1949.A barge loaded with gain at CranfieldÕs Ipswich Mill in 1949.

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