Days Gone By - When Wallis Simpson and the King passed through Ipswich

Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII.

Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. - Credit: Archant

At 13, Margaret Taylor stood on Felixstowe Road to watch Wallis Simpson and King Edward make their way into Ipswich, and here she shares her memories.

Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, in the 1920s. This section between King Edward Road and Prettyman Road was

Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, in the 1920s. This section between King Edward Road and Prettyman Road was close to Margaret TaylorÕs childhood home. When this photograph was taken the trolley bus lines were being extended from the Derby Road junction to Kings Way. This service opened in May 1926.

Ninety-two-year-old retired school teacher Margaret lived on her family’s smallholding where the gardens on the east side of Ascot Drive are now, writes David Kindred.

Ipswich and Felixstowe’s place in the history of Wallis Simpson’s divorce at Ipswich Assizes in the County Hall, so she could marry Edward VIII, is well recorded.

Mrs Simpson stayed at Beech House, Felixstowe, during the divorce proceedings because of the residence requirement. This was at the height of the abdication crisis of 1936. There are few now who can recall standing on Felixstowe Road to watch the couple pass by during the history-making divorce, but Margaret can clearly recall the times, as a 13-year-old, she saw the couple as they passed by on several days.

Readers have sent their memories of living on Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.

Margaret Taylor, of Rushmere St Andrew, said:

“My parents moved from Bolton Lane to 383 Felixstowe Road when I was about a year old. The house stood back from the road and it was just like living in the country. The nightingales sang and our chickens had to be safely locked away at night because of foxes.

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“For some years our next door neighbour was Bob Cross who was manager of the Co-op Dairy, at that time in Osborne Road. Bob had a horse and cart and also kept pigs. Barnard Brothers, corn merchants, supplied my father with chicken food etc. When we knew there was going to be a delivery my brother and I waited at the bottom of our drive so that we could have a ride.

“The next house that also stood back from the road on the town side was an American-style clapper board house. It stood in four acres of land and was owned by Mrs Cooper and her two single sons and a widowed daughter. The sons worked the land and orchard and also made chocolates in the huge cellar under the house. The chocolates and fruit and vegetables were sold at the Ipswich Corn Exchange.

“Christmas time was very busy for us. My father would kill the chickens. My brother and I would pluck them and my mother would draw and dress them. My Saturday job was delivering eggs to our customers and roasting fowls and vegetables when ordered.

We had a lot of horseradish growing near the back door. Another Saturday job was digging up a root and scraping it to go with the roast joint on Sunday.

“Life was fairly leisurely on the roads. Children would often hang on the back of the horse-drawn coal carts until the coalman would either slash his whip over his shoulders or put the horse into a gallop and then the children would either let go or fall off.

“The milkman would measure out milk into jugs. We didn’t have a dustman, my father used to dig a great pit and our rubbish was put there. As one pit was filled he dug another.

Once my brother and I got some corrugated sheets and made a den, pulling them over a newly dug pit where an old fire range was waiting to be buried. We lit a fire in it and would have been dead from smoke inhalation if my mother had not noticed smoke pouring from gaps in the sheeting.

“Diagonally across the road from us was some waste ground. Every Easter the gipsies brought their fair there.

“All the kids from around gathered to watch it being erected and then in the evening we would wander round watching all the activity. We never had any money to spend, but just enjoyed the colour, music and stalls.

“Further along the road, going out of town, was an encampment of First World War army huts. They were occupied, I think, by war veterans and their families.

When Mrs Wallace Simpson was going through her divorce in the Ipswich court, we would wait by the road to see the car go by with the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson in it.

“Around 1935, Mrs Cooper in the New York house died and the property was sold to a builder. He wanted to build from Ascot Drive as he called it, through our land and next door.

Bob Cross asked such a high price for his land that the builder decided on other plans. My father sold our property and we moved to King Edward Road.

“Our new house was enclosed by fencing in a much smaller garden.

“The eastern side of Ascot Drive was built on our land. The lovely old New York house was pulled down. I think that today it would be a listed building.

“Now all the market garden properties have gone and a little crescent of houses have been built.

“Gone are the days when we played marbles in the gutter or bowled hoops in the road. Gone are the gipsies who used to camp on the heath and called selling their wares, or the Harwich shrimp man ringing his bell and calling out “Arwich shrimps.””

Kathleen O’Dell, of Ipswich said: “Ipswich residents will never forget the marvellous Jacksons’ meat and fruit pie shop in Derby Road, which must have been the best pie shop ever.”

Mr B Broughton, of Ipswich, wrote to say: “I have lived around the Felixstowe/Ipswich area for the past 70 years. I can remember some of the shops, mainly between York Road and Derby Road.

“I passed that way to go to Rosehill Road School. Between York Road and Derby Road (north side) included Phillips sweet and tobacco shop, Sterns the chemists, Manning’s fish and chips, Self’s sold sweets and stationary and children’s toys, and Whachter’s shoe shop. The other side of York Road was Gilbert’s a secondhand shop, this later became Tooks the bakers.

“The other side of the road, opposite Gilbert’s, was Cockram’s Newsagents and Akester’s Laundry. Near the junction of Levington Road and Felixstowe Road was the Alnesbourne Dairy, Todd’s greengrocers, Pool and Talbot and Fletcher’s butchers shops, Reed’s greengrocers, Johnson’s drapers, a post office, Home and Colonial grocers, Mence Smiths hardware dealers and Gibbs fishmongers and the Alnesbourne Dairy and Bakers. On the other side of the junction was the National and Provincial Bank.

“From Derby Road to where Hines Road is now, was Prentice gents and ladies clothing, Tyler’s radio dealers and a hairdressers. Brown Bakers, then Gamlin’s Taxis who operated from a house since pulled down.

“I vividly remember the horse- drawn drays that delivered the barrels of beer to the cellar of the Royal Oak public house. Rowland Manthorpe’s horse- drawn coal carts and a man on a bike with a big basket ringing his handbell shouting “Shrimps, fresh Harwich shrimps.”

Lynda Thompson (nee Last), of Sproughton, added: “I lived in Felixstowe Road. I was there from April 1976 until 1987. It was my house in the photograph. Russell Whipps who took the photo was a friend of my late husband, Tom Flurrie. Our house had been shored up along with our neighbours, Mabel Saunders at number 84, for many years, due to subsidence.

“I lived at number 82. I remember all the names of the people who lived in the row. We were the first family to move out in April 1987 as the council put a compulsory purchase order on it, but my late husband and I still owned it until 1988.

“After the storm of 1987 we returned to see what damage had been caused by the storm. To our surprise, not even a roof tile was missing.”

Bill Seggar said: “I am always interested in “Days Gone By”. Recently you wrote about the “Tolly Follies” including the Haven, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich. Others I can remember are, Suffolk Punch, Golf, Cricketers and the Golden Hind. The Waveney and Safe Harbour were demolished to make way for flats and a shop. There were two others built to ground level, but work on these ceased at the beginning of the Second World War. As an apprentice carpenter 1948-1953 for V.A.Marriott, one of my tasks was to clear the cellars of these pubs, one where the Earl Kitchener, Hadleigh Road, was built, the other on the corner of Bent Lane and Woodbridge Road. This was never completed, but two bungalows now occupy the site.”

Jacy Cutting emailed to say: “My grandparents lived at 93 Hatfield Road. My grandfather owned a garage in that area with his brothers-in-law. They were Arthur Shaw, Harold Baker and Harold Shaw, around 1925/1930.

“I would like more details about this garage, has anyone any information of its whereabouts?”