Fleeing bombs and making new friends

VIDEO GLOOM was all around when the country was at war as little Jean Shipp set off from her new home in the centre of Ipswich in 1940. First day at a new school in a strange town is a worrying time for any six-year-old, but that day Jean met another six-year-old who has been her best friend for the last 66 years.

GLOOM was all around when the country was at war as little Jean Shipp set off from her new home in the centre of Ipswich in 1940.

First day at a new school in a strange town is a worrying time for any six-year-old, but that day Jean met another six-year-old who has been her best friend for the last 66 years.

Jean Wade, who now lives in Norwich, recalls her childhood memories of Ipswich, She said “I came to Ipswich with my parents, Alice and Fred Shipp, in 1940, to live in Fitzroy Street.

My parents came to Ipswich with their four children, to escape the air raids on London during World War Two. Our house in Fitzroy Street did not have a bathroom, so we had our Friday night bath in front of the fire, in a tin bath; my brother Geoff who lives at Kesgrave still has the bath to this day.”

“I met Eileen Hood (now Mrs Brown) who lived in Beck Street on the very first day and we have been best friends ever since. Each morning I walked to school with Eileen. We spent four years at St Helens and another four at Christchurch Schools. We had a wonderful education at those two schools. We often walked to the shop, featured recently in Kindred Spirits, on the corner of William Street for a one penny apple, pear or orange. The shop was light and airy inside, and smelt lovely. My brother remembers us spending our sweet coupons together at that shop. “Sometimes Eileen and I called at the bakery at the junction of Fonnereau Road and Crown Street to buy hot bread rolls for lunch. We only had a penny to spend for either the fruit or bread rolls.”

“On the way home from school we often called in at the library in Northgate Street to order the latest Enid Blyton book. Often we would change shoes on our walk home, because Eileen wanted to walk pigeon toed like me!”

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“While Eileen and I were at St Helen's School we knitted scarves for the sailors fighting in the war. The school provide the thick navy wool, the pins and pattern. We knitted them walking home from school, and late into the night to complete as many as we could.”

“We went to Bethesda Sunday school morning, afternoon and evening, to see the Baptisms. I won a prayer book each year for good attendance. We were also 'Sunbeams' for the Salvation Army.”

“The Odeon cinema was close by for me. I joined the team to help control the children in the queue in Lloyds Avenue as they waited for the Saturday morning picture show. I was given a free ice cream during the week for going to meetings to arrange the shows. On Saturday afternoon my sister Rita and I went to Lyons Tea Shop in Tavern Street for tea. We always had toast, a cake and a drink. Our parents gave us the exact money to spend.”

“When I was thirteen I did a paper round for Mr and Mrs Todd the newsagents in Colman St

My newspapers had to be collected form the lovely East Anglian Daily Times Company building close by. The shop gave me a Saturday morning job as well. I felt mega rich.

Looking back on this wonderful childhood, living in the Ipswich town centre in the 1940s, gave me the education, discipline, fun, and a life any child these days should envy. We did not have a lot, and yet had everything. Friendship with Eileen Brown for 66 years being one of the things I treasure most.”

There is a rare treat for nostalgia fans at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Ted Mason of Webb's Court, Ropes Drive, Kesgrave has had 8mm cine film he and his brother Jack made of events in and around Ipswich in the late 1940s and early 50s, transferred to DVD.

The footage includes a match at Portman Road when Ipswich beat Norwich 3-0 in October 1949.

There is swimming at Broom Hill pool and grass track racing. The tragic day when an RAF jet aircraft crashed onto a house in Myrtle Road, a British Legion fete and an Ipswich carnival.

Ted said: “My brother Jack, who now lives in Fleet, discovered the old films in his loft and we thought it would be fun to see them again.

“We were founder members of the Ipswich Cine Film Club.”

N Why not send us your home videos of from times gone by in the Ipswich area to video@eveningstar.co.uk

The row of little shops, which once stood in St Margaret's Street, Ipswich, have recently brought fond memories from readers of Kindred Spirits. Joan Garnham (nee Barber) of Westbury Road, Ipswich, who is now in her early eighties, said “I have happy memories of the shops in St. Margaret's Street. I lived in the small terraced houses in Woodbridge Road. I think the back yard of my home backed on to the shops in St. Margaret's Street. They were little one up, one down houses. I was about four or five at the time and I went to St. Helen's School. We used to see soldier's march to the Drill Hall (now the Caribbean Centre) almost opposite my home. My mother used to send me to the shops in St Margaret's Street and tell me to keep near to the wall because of the traffic, if only she could see it now, I wonder what she would say!”

“Mother used to take my baby sister and I for walks on Christchurch Park. I can remember the statue of Queen Victoria which was featured in a photograph in Kindred Spirits. Also the Cabman's Shelter and the Round Pond when there was a hut for the swans.”

“When the Gainsborough estate was built in the early 30's our family was moved there and the little houses in Woodbridge Road were demolished, they stood roughly where the Regent car park entrance is today. I am in my early eighties and have moved back to Ipswich. I live now with my daughter and family in Westbury Road.”

“In a recent Kindred Spirits John Harold was asking about a steam shunting locomotive, which was operated decades ago by Cranes the engineering company at their site on Nacton Road, Ipswich.

Cyril Scoffield of Norwich Road, Ipswich, has memories of the locomotive, which he thinks once operated on the Indian railways.

Cyril said “I don't know what eventually happened to it, but I do know a little bit of its history. In 1941 I was working for another Ipswich engineering company Cocksedge's. I was repairing mine sweepers and destroyers at Ipswich Dock. I was the apprentice to the fitter. My mentor was Fred Harvey, the mate was Harry Parr.”

“Cranes wanted their locomotive overhauled and gave Cocksedge's the job. I believe the engine was at one time running on the Indian Railways. It was called a saddle tank engine.

As Fred had been a loco man he was sent to do the job along with Harry Parr and myself. Our little gang stripped that engine down to the last nut and bolt and meticulously rebuilt it to nearly a new engine. As the youngest member of the team Fred gave me the honour of driving it down the track and Cranes yard.

“Sadly Fred Harvey and his wife were killed in the last air raid on Ipswich of the Second World. Ironically he and his bride escaped when a bomb landed outside St Margaret's Church, Ipswich, during their wedding service early in the war.”

Six houses in Seymour Road were destroyed in the air raid of March 4 1945. Nine people were killed.