Gallery: Sharing memories of Ipswich days gone by after seeing photos in Kindred Spirit

Steve Carter thinks he recognises some of the faces in this picture of a group of workers at Ransome

Steve Carter thinks he recognises some of the faces in this picture of a group of workers at Ransomes and Rapier that saw the last crane leave the works in May 1988. Can you add names to this group? (Photo by Paul Nixon/Archant)

David Kindred featured the Ipswich engineering company Ransomes and Rapier recently in his column and he has received several replies from readers of Kindred Spirits. Some are able to put names to faces in the photographs whereas others have had their memories jogged by the images and now look back fondly.

My husband and I both worked there in the 60/70s. He started as an apprentice fitter/turner and worked his way up to draughtsman. I was in the drawing office as a tracer. The picture of the march coming over Stoke Bridge has my husband Geoff and son Marc (4) in.

By December 1972 we had moved to Carlisle to take on a new challenge at Cowans Sheldon, sadly this engineering firm has now gone. My mother, Audrey Rodwell, also worked there in the accounting office. We are still in touch after 42 years with friends who worked there.

The walking dragline picture in Kindred Spirits was a great reminder when we took a ‘trip’ to Corby to see one, a very special day as we both climbed into the cab. I have kept over the years a supplement to the Evening Star dated September 30, 1987 and we still have the original broadsheet

Evening Star for Saturday July 8, 1972 (price 3p). 450 marched that day along with three MPs. Our thanks to you for the article and family for sending it.

Geoffrey and Christine Farmer

I started as an apprentice at R&R in 1974 and have many fond memories of my time there. After the first year off the job training, I started in the factory in the mobile shop, building the H7 and H14 hydraulic mobile cranes, also the cement mixers. Then I moved onto the excavator shop building the 605, 1405 and HC75 excavators and completed my apprenticeship in the test yard. A year or so after completing the four-year apprenticeship I was promoted into the production engineering department and ended up in the walking draglines. A little known fact was that R & R manu-factured gates for the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing cave, a project that I was also involved with. In the picture of the small group of work-ers that saw the last crane leave I believe the person on the left end of the row was Don Fisher,

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The man in the white coat may have been Derek Mallet and the man in the cap was the inspector John, but I cannot remember his last name.

The drawing office shown was the walking dragline office with the man in the middle I think was Don Turvey, my desk was just out of the picture in the bottom right.

The test yard was boarded by an old graveyard with headstones all over the place.”

Steve Carter

I was a employee of R and R in the early 1950s. I started there a few months before the 1953 floods when our office was flooded

under three or four feet of water. We had to have a temporary office made in the stores outside, which held parts for mobile cranes,

extractors, mixers etc.

Early order files had to be dried out so we knew who and what the orders were for. It was quite a job. I was in one office and me and three other girls dealt with the orders for parts to mobile cranes, mixers and water pumps.

Our boss was Mr Morphew who was very nice and kind.

My father also worked there for a number of years before, during and after World War Two (when they were making ammunition and parts for the war effort). He also served in his department’s home guard throughout the war.

He was a carpenter in the pattern shop and he also had a part in the construction of sluice gates, the London Palladium

turntable stage and the revolving restaurant at the BT Tower in London.

His name was Jack Farrow and he was em-ployed there until his death in 1969. It was a very good firm to work for and I enjoyed my time there.

I left the company in around 1958.

Mrs Shirley Fulcher (aged 79), Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich.

I entered the company as an apprentice draughtsman straight from school in Sep-tember 1978, and I can remember virtually

every minute of that first day. My ‘time’ consisted of one year in the training cen-tre followed by up to three years special-ised training on the shop floor.

I was immediately struck by the professionalism and high standards of the place and still believe to this day that it was the

best company in the world to train as an engineer. I changed direction half way through my training and became a fitter,

and in more than thirty years am yet to meet anyone, trained at any other company, instilled with anywhere near the same level of skills and knowledge provided by R&R.

On perhaps a slightly negative note, as a young apprentice, it was probably lost on me that the company was undergoing hard trading times during my time there, and it seems odd to hear that now, as an abiding memory was the annual pay strikes which virtually closed the factory every spring

and went on for weeks on end, leaving the apprentices with little to do; as we were neither allowed to strike or work on the shop floor.

I’d left the company by the time it closed, but the reasons for it were probably not as one-sided as is often suggested.

Andy Tailor