Harsh lessons

ONE hundred years ago this month the Ipswich Municipal School opened at Tower Ramparts. Mr J Towns of The Whinneys, Kesgrave, reminded me of this piece of local history.

ONE hundred years ago this month the Ipswich Municipal School opened at Tower Ramparts.

Mr J Towns of The Whinneys, Kesgrave, reminded me of this piece of local history.

Mr Towns said: “I understand this was the action of the Ipswich Education Committee. The school served the pupils of the town excellently. The original school was served by several excellent masters, many of whom devoted their lives for the great benefit of their pupils. At the same time the Ipswich Municipal Secondary School for Girls opened in Bolton Lane”.

The Ipswich Local Education Authority succeeded the Victorian school board in 1903. They were in control of the Municipal School of Art in High Street, which had opened in the 1850s. The Municipal Technical School, the Municipal Secondary Schools at Tower Ramparts for boys and Bolton Lane for girls and nineteen council schools, eleven of which were mixed. There were also ten voluntary schools and nine church schools.


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The Municipal Secondary Schools operated at Tower Ramparts and Bolton Lane until Northgate Schools opened in the early 1930s. After the Second World War the school at Tower Ramparts became a Secondary Modern.

Memories of the school sent by readers of Kindred Sprits in recent years, suggest that life there was a tough experience in the decades after the Second World War.

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Some of the punishment handed out by teachers there in the 1950s and 60s sounds almost unbelievable now. One reader told me how in the carpentry lessons a teacher would put a boy's hair in a vice and 'tease' the boy as to when he would whack with a cane. All this was to the cheers of the other pupils looking on.

Some teachers would regularly enjoy a lunchtime pint at the Cricketers public house opposite the school and sleep during the afternoon lessons.

Were you a pupil at the now demolished Tower Ramparts School in the centre of Ipswich? Are you old enough to remember the more disciplined years before the Second World War? Send your memories to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

HUGE industrial sites in and around Ipswich have changed use in a generation. The dock area has seen maltings, silos and engineering work sites demolished or converted into residential and leisure use. Plans are well advanced to extend the Suffolk College site to the waterfront where once thousands worked at Ransomes Sims and Jefferies making mainly agricultural machinery.

At this time of the year the Ipswich sugar beet factory used to swing into full production as the harvest season started. Every day hundreds of lorries headed for Sproughton Road to unload the muddy crop. Clouds of sweet smelling steam used to drift across Ipswich as the beet was converted to sugar.

The site has been closed for several years now and there are plans to redevelop the site for housing.

John Langford of Larchcroft Road, Ipswich, spent his working life at the site. He stated as an apprentice electrician in 1943 and left there in 1991. John told me some of the history of the site.

John said “The factory was built during 1924-25 by the Anglo-Dutch Sugar Company on the 100 acre site at Sproughton. A large amount of machinery was dismantled from a factory in Holland and it was shipped over to Felixstowe dock.

“The site included a wood on the Sproughton side known as 'Devils Wood' and it was said this is where the Sproughton wild man lived, which gave the village public house its name. Halfpenny Lane was here and the final remains of it were lost when the western by-pass was built in 1988.

“Alongside the factory, near Sproughton Road, six houses were built to a Dutch design for the management, as it was essential in those early days that they were available twenty-four hours a day during the campaign. The main offices were also a Dutch design.

“From the opening of the factory until the early 1960s there were railway tracks linked to the main Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds line. Much of the beet harvest was brought to the factory by train having first been loaded from horse drawn carts from the field around Suffolk. Two groups of sidings ran over the Sproughton Road. The factory closed early in 2001.”

Did you work at the Sugar beet factory? Write with your memories to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN.

Strange brews, often to cure coughs, use to be made up at local chemist's shops.

This all came to an end by 1970 as new regulation brought an end to the mixtures. Families traditionally used these often foul tasting brews served on sugar to help the medicine go down. I recently featured the memories of Noel Stow, of Norton, near Bury St Edmunds, who worked as a pharmaceutical apprentice at Smalley's chemist shop in Carr Street, Ipswich in the 1940s, where he made up Dunbar's Cough Balsam in the basement of the shop. Noel said the mixture contained a small amount of morphine to suppress the cough.

Mrs S Scrivener of Heron Road, Ipswich, said: “The article about the chemists brought back many memories for me as I worked in both the shops mentioned. I worked in the dispensary at Smalley's in 1954 until 1956. I left a month before Heppals bought the business. Mr Stow was the pharmacist then. The dispensary was down in the basement. People brought their prescriptions downstairs to the waiting area. The only daylight we saw was at lunchtime and when we finished work.”

Later I went to work for Evelyn's in Norwich Road. I worked for them for twenty-six years in the dispensary. One of my jobs was marking up our own mixtures. The most popular was Scott's Paregoric. It smelt terrible in the first procedure, as it had to simmer for eight hours in a large iron pot. Next day when it was cool it was filtered and the last ingredients were added then bottled, and labelled. The end of 1960s saw the end of all own “brew” mixtures.”

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