Ipswich Icons: Like life, retail industry is a story of change

Family run business, S.Kunnan Singh and Sons on Cauldwell Hall Road in Ipswich is closing after 40

Family run business, S.Kunnan Singh and Sons on Cauldwell Hall Road in Ipswich is closing after 40 years. L-R Hajara Singh,Sarnakt Singh, Nishan Singh, Mann Singh and Sukhbag Singh. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

We all know that the “High Street” is suffering, losing trade to the Internet to the out-of-town shopping centres and simply because our buying habits are changing, writes John Norman.

Cauldwell Hall shops. Picture: ARCHANT

Cauldwell Hall shops. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

These changes can apply over time not only to the town centre but also to the little corner shops all around the town.

By way of example let’s investigate the variety of shops that sit at the junction of Cauldwell Hall Road where it meets Freehold, Marlborough and St John’s roads.

In the days before big supermarkets, the shops here provided the everyday needs of the local residents – the sort of shops to which you could send the kids, bribed with a coin with which they selected sweets from the “penny tray”.

S Kunnan Singh’s shop on the corner of Cauldwell Hall Road and Freehold Road is probably a good place to start.

Corner shop Friendship. Picture: ARCHANT

Corner shop Friendship. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The building was erected in 1900 and was first occupied by James Hotson, a grocer who later owned the shop across the road.

James moved his business in 1935 and his original premises were then occupied by William Green, who traded for a couple of years before changing the name to Freehold Stores (Family Grocer).

Most Read

The shop was purchased by Kunnan Singh in 1977, who re-opened the store as a general grocer. After 40 years of it being “Open all Hours”, we learned the shop was set to become The Red Room, an upholsterers.

Across the road the odd-shaped building that fills the triangular gap on the corner of Marlborough Road, number 166 St John’s Road, was a baker’s shop.

Built a few years later than its neighbours, it was in 1906 Albert Shufflebotham’s bakery, a business taken over by his son Cecil in the late 1940s (when Albert was 75).

When Cecil retired in the 1960s they finished baking in St John’s Road and purchased bread from Samuel Shanks, the baker of Tuddenham Avenue, Ipswich.

By the mid ’70s the supplier had taken over the St John’s Road shop, eventually becoming one of six outlets owned by Samuel’s sons, Grenville and Rodney Shanks.

After the millennium (2004) the bread shop closed; the unit remained empty for a number of years until it became a nail bar. Today it is a wedding dress retailer.

There is an interesting story behind the buildings on the west side of Cauldwell Hall Road. Number 170 is currently Friendship, a Chinese takeaway, but started life as a wet fish shop (at the time when fresh fish was available from almost every local centre).

It was taken over by the Co-op in the early 1930s but by 1960 it had been returned to private ownership, still selling wet fish.

It became a hot food fish and chip shop in 1975 and almost immediately started selling Chinese takeaways.

Number 194 was a pork butcher’s from the turn of the century. Arthur Smith was the butcher for 20 years and when he died his wife ran the shop. After the war Albert Bloomfield became the butcher. Ray Sale, who had been the butcher’s boy, became the proprietor in 1975 and ran the business for 25 years until it was turned into a private house.

202 Cauldwell Hall Road, on the corner of Marlborough Road, started life as a private house: the manse for the Congregational Church, with the Rev A Mortimer in residence.

By the mid 1930s the builders were in, removing the sash windows and replacing them with the much larger panes of glass we see today. Note the Fruit, Cooked Meats, Grocery and Provisions now painted over but still visible etched high on the glass.

The shop was originally owned by James Hotson and Sons and run by a manager, the austere Mr Bush who charmed the ladies and frightened small boys who got too close to the biscuit barrel.

In 1964 number 202 became Spanning’s, a tyre distributor who fitted the tyres in the garage in Marlborough Road. Then, in the late 1980s, Dave Templeman started selling electrical components, mainly wholesale but he also enjoyed steady trade from local residents.

He traded until the end of 2016, when the shop became an estate agent’s. The changes outlined are typical of many groups of corner shops: independent and international businesses come and go. And if you think the big supermarkets are driving the change, remember there was a branch of International Stores at 322 Cauldwell Hall Road immediately before the Second World War. Nothing lasts forever.