Kindred Spirits helps bring back memories of Ipswich days gone by

The spectacular days of steam locomotives is captured in this photograph taken on the main Ipswich t

The spectacular days of steam locomotives is captured in this photograph taken on the main Ipswich to London line in the 1950s, as Britannia Pacific 70037 Hereward the Wake thunders through. (Photo by Aubrey Frost)

Readers have been sharing their memories of old Ipswich after spotting photos that bring back memories in Kindred Spirits.

The picture featured recently of Scott’s newsagents at the junction of Handford Road and Alderman Road brought fond memories for Julie Hicks.

I have fond memories of “Auntie Mary “who I believe was a Scott running the sweet shop when I was a child.We lived in Alderman Road just along from the shop.

My dad Bill worked at the laundry nearby, which was also there for many years. He came from South Africa when he left the merchant navy after the war. He was among the few non white people in Ipswich at the time. My mum also worked at the laundry during the war and did the shirts for Glen Miller when he played here.

As the Cattle Market was close to our house at that time we had the odd escaped cow in the garden eating the forget-me-nots. By coincidence my husband used to go into Scotts when his mum used to clean for a lady in a large house in the area, so we may have met as children fifty years ago.The circus used to set up on Alderman Road Park and we can both remember seeing a whale that was dragged there after it was washed up in the river.

Surprising how many memories a picture brings back.’

Julie Hicks

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Former Landseer Secondary School, Ipswich pupil, George Garnham, has written with his memories of the school and to tell us of a reunion later this year

I went to Landseer Road Secondary Modern School at the beginning of 1950 when Mr. Perkins was headmaster. He was strict, but a very fair headmaster, if you were in the wrong you were punished. I was not very academic and I was in the headmaster’s room on many occasions for punishment, which was painful at the time, but I can assure you it did me no harm.

I have been holding Landseer School reunions now for nine years. Pupils who were at the school in 1936 when it opened as the South Eastern School for Boys attend regularly with stories of their time at this wonderful school. They have astounding stories, especially through the war years when they were digging air raid shelters etc. I have hundreds of photographs from the school being built and the opening day with the Mayor.

The school was very sport orientated. Sports day was held every year with Nacton Road Girls School, I have many pictures of these, also the swimming gala day held at Pipers Vale swimming pool. They also held chess championships, which they also won against Northgate Grammar and Copleston Schools. The football teams were were well known throughout the Ipswich schools. The cricket teams won many trophies. The school also won the lifesaving shield many times, I have tried to find out what happened to all the cups and shields awarded to the sporting teams of the school, but they completely vanished! I cannot understand the reason for closing the school which was only fifty years old, I feel a bad mistake was made as the people of Gainsborough, Greenwich and Rivers estates lost a brilliant local school. The reunion is the Friday, June 5, at the Clapgate Lane Conservative Club, tickets £5, all proceeds to the Ipswich Diabetic Clinic and the radiographers. We welcome all Landseer School pupils including the girls who were there when it was made coeducational.’

George Garnham

Recent references to the Ipswich engineering company Ransomes and Rapier in Kindred Spirits has brought another letter.

I began working at Ransomes and Rapier in September 1965 as an apprentice. My pay was £5 2s 6d a week which, as I travelled in from Bacton every day, was hardly sufficient to cover the ticket cost. I initially used the train (steam then), but eventually made use of a Lambretta for daily commute. Very early mornings, fog and icy roads during the winter frequently made this a challenging journey. Night school at the Civic College meant catching the ten o’clock train home and being back at work at seven thirty next morning!

I started in the apprentice training shop for one year, working under Mr Hambling and Mr Smith, learning all manner of skills, including gas and electric welding. During my year, I was sent on an Outward Bound course in Devon. This I enjoyed very much – especially having to carry out many challenging activities that I do not know would be allowed today due to ‘Health and Safety’. Still we all survived and returned with many happy memories of the experiences. Also that year, I was chosen to accompany a team to Claydon quarries when a brand new machine was being demonstrated. I was only a humble guide for the prospective buyers, but we had special blue overalls issued with the orange R and R insignia on them and for a week was treated in a completely different way by the wonderful chaps that were demonstrating the machine. Travelling out to the site and back each day in the works Land Rover was quite a change from the usual work.

During the second year I developed my training in the machine shops, the pump shop and even spent several months in the production control office. Here I used to go swimming at the old Fore Street baths on Friday lunchtimes with several of the office lads. I returned to the shop floor eventually and spent the rest of my time in the various fitting shops.

I remember many of the people I worked with still and had several interesting episodes; one I will never forget was when I offered to work during the works shutdown fortnight. I was to be part of a team testing a new crane in the test yard. The team was magnificent, the weather was wonderful and together we could not put a foot wrong. My job was high on the top of the cab calibrating the Wylie safe load indicators. Somehow this job went perfectly too, and as a result we had the whole job done and dusted well within in the fortnight. Only problem was, as we discovered later, all other crews that had done the same job previously took at least twice as long as we had. We were not exactly flavour of the month for quite a while!

I remember going over to the Dragline shop on rare occasions. Here I saw the last dragline built (W300 I think). This was the smallest of the four types, but it was still completely massive. I wonder where that machine went and whether it still exists.

One afternoon I was involved in bringing a large crane (605) out of the fitting shop round to the test yard. Imagine my surprise when I was asked to drive it myself. I clearly remember thinking that this huge tracked machine was going to shake my teeth out as it made its slow journey; but no, I was totally amazed at how gentle and smooth the ride was. I was directed along the way by the test yard foreman and I don’t think I demolished any buildings!

It has just occurred to me that it will be fifty years in September when I started work at R and R. I went past the site of the old works a year or so back and saw all of the new building - the whole area is barely recognisable now. I cannot now recall whether the cake shop at the end of Bath Road is still there. This was where we used to sprint in order to get a Chelsea bun for lunch, or indeed the pub on the opposite corner where a pint or two were consumed.

I often look over building sites now, thinking there might be a crane made at Ipswich working there. Alas the ones I see are all of foreign manufacture, a shame when such amazing machines were made in this country. I do occasionally see an old model parked up awaiting restoration maybe (eg. at Brooklands Motor Museum recently).

Having left R and R in 1972, I spent most of my working life in primary teaching in Surrey. But the skills that I acquired are still put to good use repairing and maintaining all sorts of equipment. I am not sure my welding skills are still honed to perfection after all this time, but I’d be willing to give it a go.’

Alan Castell, Surbiton, Surrey

We featured a photograph taken near R and W Paul’s Albion Mill at Ipswich Dock in 1973, as grain was being loaded by crane onto the barge Lady Jean. The barge was part of the fleet operated by R and W Pauls. This prompted memories for Kindred Spirits reader Dorothy Radley.

When my father Frank Lucas returned home after serving in the Royal Navy during World War One (he was twice torpedoed in the Mediterranean) he joined R. and W. Paul, first as skipper of the Bijou and then of the Lady Jean, where he stayed until he retired. During World War Two he often sailed down to London and was caught up in much of the bombing. I seem to remember that the Jean was hit by shrapnel. Roger Finch, an Ipswich art teacher, wrote a book “A Cross in the Topsail” giving the history of Paul’s barges. I have a signed copy, and also a water colour of the Lady Jean, which Roger gave to my father as a thank you for taking him on sailing trips. My father’s and my husband’s ashes were taken by barge down to Butterman’s Bay and scattered there.’

Dorothy Radley (nee Lucas)