Memories of corner cafes

Coffee and cake is available at many outlets in the Ipswich town centre and at the Waterfront. Memories of one of Ipswich’s tiny corner cafes, next to the library in Northgate Street, have been recalled following the publication in Kindred Spirits of a photograph of the premises taken in the early 1960s.

David Chappell said “From 1954 to 1959, I worked for Fisons Ltd., and I used to attend day release classes, studying chemistry, at the Civic College classrooms at the rear of Tower Ramparts School. There were only a few classrooms and laboratories there, and nothing so sophisticated as refreshment rooms! For our breaks, we used to get our cups of tea sometimes at J Lyons cafeteria in Tavern Street, which was accessible by a rear door reached down the driveway from the ‘Electric House’ bus station, or sometimes from the little caf� in Northgate Street, featured in Kindred Spirits. It was quite small inside and I think was operated by two ladies. It was near and handy to the college classrooms.”

“John Sparks added “I worked at Blundell’s from about the mid to late 1960s as a ‘tallyman’, the showroom in Great Colman Street, featured in Kindred Spirits, stocked a wide range of goods. From that branch they covered Ipswich and Suffolk with about a dozen men and women who stocked their vans or cars on a Friday morning while keeping one eye out for a traffic warden. Friday was the day when I had to hit the ‘problem areas’ in the evening, when the ‘old man’ came home with the wages and I had to make sure of Blundell’s share for the hire purchase or credit plan payments, before his money went ‘elsewhere’. It is difficult to imagine walking alone round housing estates after dark today with a wallet stuffed with hundreds of pounds.”

“Our haunt for something to eat and drink was “The Mikado”, on the corner of Old Foundry Road and Northgate Street. It wasn’t a very big caf� and as you entered the front door into the dining area, there was a small serving bar in front of you with a kitchen behind and another smaller dining area to the right. It was one of the few places you could get a “Froffee Coffee” on a Sunday! The inside was typical of the 1950s, with Formica topped tables and bamboo d�cor, which was all the rage then.”

Bob Masterson of Christchurch Street, Ipswich, has recalled some of the local cafes and restaurants gone from Ipswich. Bob said “My first morning coffee outing was, as a teenager working in the area, in the coffee shop above Yapp’s bakery in St Peters Street and later after my National Service at a cosy little caf� “Blanchflowers” on St Margaret’s Plain. In Upper Brook Street there was a “Wimpy” and also the “Gem Milk Bar” where I enjoyed an egg sandwich and a glass of milk before going to the cinema. In the Buttermarket there was Theobald’s Restaurant, a Berni Inn and Limmer and Pipe’s shop, tempting you in with the aroma of freshly ground coffee filling the street. Corder’s shop, where Waterstone’s book shop is today, had a restaurant. Round the Corner in Queen Street was Newstead’s selling tea coffee and snacks. Tavern Street had Ridley’s and Lyons. In Westgate Street there was Footman’s store, the Oriental Caf� and Purdey’s. In St Matthews Street there was Hedley’s Grill. The town’s cinemas, The Regent, Picture House and the Ritz also at one time had restaurants.


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