Ipswich Icons - The notable residents of Adelphi Place

Private Sam Harvey's grave

Private Sam Harvey's grave - Credit: Archant

Research for these articles sometimes throws up some interesting and surprising snippets of previously unknown information, writes John Norman, of The Ipswich Society.


You probably haven’t heard of Adelphi Place, nor have a clue were it was, although Adelphi House at the bottom of the bus station might give you a clue.

Adelphi Place was a terrace of ten houses, built in the 1840s, that ran between Lower Brook Street and Turret Lane, opposite what is now Haven House. The terrace faced north with uninterrupted views over the gardens that were, eventually, to become the county bus station.

Why is Adelphi Place different from so many similar terraces across the town? Simply because of the unusually high number of notable people that lived in the terrace. In chronological order of their residency they are John Fowler, Miss Kate Elizabeth Tickner, Robert Martin, and Sam Harvey VC.

John Fowler was an engineer and Quaker who had served his apprenticeship in the engineering industry in Middlesbrough, completing his indentures in 1847. In 1849 he went to Ireland to see what help he could offer to ease the crisis caused by the potato famine. The Irish, particularly the agricultural working class, were starving, the potato harvest having failed for five years in a row. Between 1845 and 1852 more than one million people died, a further million emigrated and the population of Ireland dropped by some 25%.

Private Sam Harvey was awarded the VC

Private Sam Harvey was awarded the VC - Credit: Archant

Fowler could see that the land needed draining and set about working out a way to install land drains without putting heavy plant on the saturated ground. He consulted with Ransome and May (later to become Ransome Sims and Jefferies) who had developed a stationary steam engine and proposed dragging the pipe through the ground using a mole plough, thus land drains could be successfully installed, the field drained and the crop was able to grow.

John Fowler had held meetings with William Worby, the works manager of Ransome & May and together they developed the idea into a plough using a stationary engine, the plough being dragged across the field with wire ropes. The weight of the steam engine didn’t compress the ground that it was trying to till.

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Renowned painter Kate Tickner was born in Adelphi Place in 1862, christened in St Mary at the Quay (note that Adelphi Place was in St Nicholas’ parish). Kate was the daughter of William (an accountant) and his wife Elizabeth. By 1871 the family had moved to Christchurch Street, and grown (Kate, by now had four siblings) and then they moved again, 47 Key Street (two more siblings). Kate Elizabeth Tickner regularly exhibited with the Ipswich Fine Art Club (inaugurated in 1873).

Robert Martin was born in 1792. After leaving school he studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, became a doctor and surgeon and later set up a private practice in Ipswich (there was no National Health Service in the 1800s). He gained a reputation for saving lives and became the medical officer for Stamford Hundred (Babergh), house surgeon to the military and then president of the British Medical Association. He lived in Adelphi Place where he died in 1873.

Thomas Kemp held a number of senior posts with local authorities in the late 19th Century, among them he was clerk to the Stamford Union and Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Ipswich. He lived at number 10 for some 50 years.

We have no further details but we were bemused to learn that a certain ‘Miss Lovely’ resided at number 1 in 1915. Was this her real name or simply advertising her line of business?

Only two Victoria Crosses were awarded to Ipswich men during the First World War, one to Arthur Saunders whose achievement is commemorated with a Blue Plaque in Cauldwell Hall Road and the other to Private Sam Harvey. Sam Harvey served on the front line, during the Battle of Loos in September 1915, his platoon advanced forward of the ‘Big Willy’ trench. By the middle of the morning the British were low on ammunition and Sam Harvey volunteered to run backwards and forwards to bring additional boxes of grenades.

After 13 hours of carrying ammunition he was hit by enemy fire, a non-fatal gunshot wound to the head. Some time after the war he married Georgina Brown in St Peter’s Church and they lived in Georgina’s house, 10 Adelphi Place.

Adelphi Place was demolished in the early 1960s.

See more from John Norman here