Memories of Cranfield's Mill

ADDRESSING your boss as “Sir” would be very unusual today. Most offices and factories are on first-name terms and even “Mr” is much less used today.

David Kindred

ADDRESSING your boss as “Sir” would be very unusual today. Most offices and factories are on first-name terms and even “Mr” is much less used today.

This was not so when David Markwell, of Kirby Close, Ipswich, started at Cranfield's mill in Ipswich in 1963. Cranfield Brothers mills, which stood close to Stoke Bridge at Ipswich dock, employed thousands since the company was founded by John Cranfield in 1884. I featured the company a couple of weeks ago when reader Richard Wadwell wrote seeking the history of a painting that used to hang in his father's office at the mill.

Mr Markwell explained how life was starting at the mill as a lad in the 1960s. “In 1963 Mr Wadwell interviewed me for a job as a junior clerk at Cranfield's. During the interview I was reprimanded by Mr Wadwell for not calling him 'Sir'. Nevertheless I must have made an impression as I was offered the job and started work at the rate of �5 per week in September 1963. At the time Mr Wadwell was company secretary and the firm was a private limited company.

“Mr Wadwell later became joint managing director with Peter Wilks and in due course we were taken over by Associated British Foods, trading as Allied Mills Limited. I found Mr Wadwell to be a fair boss, who looked after his staff while, being a Yorkshire man, he also looked after the company's pennies!

“I had a long career at Cranfield's, it was a happy firm to work for and I made lots of friends there. In 2000 I had an invitation to join Allied Mills Head Office at Brentwood for a short-term position, which in due course became permanent. In February 2003 part of the Allied Mills business was acquired by ADM Milling Limited and the Allied Mills office was moved to Tilbury. I, together with a number of my colleagues remained at Brentwood with ADM Milling Ltd, where I remain to this day.”

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Richard Wadwell also recalled Sydney Bird the company's head carpenter.

Diane Hill (nee Bird) said: “Sydney was my great uncle. I believe he passed away in the late 1950s. He worked at Cranfield's for many years, as did his father before him who was involved in the building of the present site in the late 19th century. When Sydney retired, my grandfather, William Bird, took over his role as head carpenter, spending over 30 years with the company. He passed away in 1973. I spent three years in the office at Cranfield's 1989-1991. I would often go to the archive room and find pictures of William and Sydney, and also of my other grandfather on my mother's side, Cyril Finbow, who also spent over 30 years working at Cranfield's. I was able to go to the carpenters' room in 1989 and still find tools stamped with my grandfather's initials 'WHB' even though he had retired 40 odd years earlier.”

Emma Roodhouse, the art curator at Colchester and Ipswich Museums, said: “We are preparing an exhibition of art work related to the demolition at Cranfield's that has been depicted by the artist Valerie Irwin. It will run at Gallery 3, Town Hall, from Oct 2009-Jan 2010. For the exhibition I am trying to track down people with links to Cranfield's.”

Did you work at Cranfield's? write with your memories to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.


Cranfield's Mills at Ipswich Dock in 1949.

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BALLROOM dancing to “big bands” was a popular feature at the Pier Pavilion, Felixstowe, until the mid 1960s when the trend moved to more rock and pop music.

There was a time when trains and buses from Ipswich took hundreds of people to Felixstowe for the “Saturday Night Hop”. The last trains and buses home would be packed in a time before most young people could afford their own transport.

Don Kitt, of Larchcroft Road, Ipswich, sent me a photograph of one of the house bands at the Pier Pavilion, the Bob Sheridan Big Band.

Don said: “I was a regular at those fabulous big band nights at the Pier Pavilion, Felixstowe, in the late 40s, 50s and early 60s. I had the privilege of meeting band leader Ted Heath on his last visit to the Pier in the mid 1960s. I can clearly remember visits from Ted Heath, Billy Ternent, Teddy Foster, Oscar Rabin, The Squadronaires, Nat Temple, Ken Macintosh, Cyril Stapleton, Joe Loss, The Skymasters, Eric Delaney, Victor Sylvester, Harry Gold and Johnny Dankworth. At the Pier Pavilion we had a splendid House Band, the Premier Orchestra, who later changed their name to the Bob Sheridan Big Band and were very ably led by drummer Bobby Cowap. As the song says “Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end”. Sadly they did!

What memories do you have of the dances at the Pier Pavilion, Felixstowe? Write to Kindred Spirits at the Evening Star.


The Bob Sheridan Big Band.

Ballroom dancing at the Pier Pavilion, Felixstowe.

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STEAM locomotives attract a special breed of enthusiasts who take a great interest in the smallest detail. Railway history must be one of the best documented subjects on the planet.

I recently featured a photograph of a steam locomotive named “Nottingham Forest” at Ipswich Station and Norman Gooding, of Linden Close, Lawford, has sent me a history of this type of magnificent machine and explains how the locomotives were named after football clubs and why Ipswich Town Football club did not have a named locomotive.

Norman said: “The photograph was of B17 61666 “Nottingham Forest”. The B17s were built from 1928-1937. Total built was 73 at a cost of �7,280 each. They were of two different lots. 2800-2847 had the old GER tender, water capacity 3,700 gallons. 2848-2872 had the group four tender holding 4,200 gallons. 2800-2847 were named after country houses and castles. 2848-2872 were named after football clubs that ran in the LNER region of the old first and second division clubs. The only exception was third division “Darlington” where many locos were built.

“In 1937, 2859 “Norwich City” and 2870 “Tottenham Hotspur” were chosen and given new names 2859 “East Anglian” and 2870 “City of London” to work a new train “East Anglian” Norwich to Liverpool Street. They were streamlined like the A4's, Mallard. These two locos were then renumbered and named on to two other locos. 2839 “Rendlesham Hall” became “Norwich City” and 2830 “Thorseby Park” changed to “Tottenham Hotspur”. Norwich City was given a large tender but Tottenham Hotspur kept the GER tender until being cut up. The only “footballer” to run all her life with a small tender. 2858 built in May 1936 was named “Newcastle United” but never ran as a footballer.

“In June, one month later, she became “The Essex Regiment”. In May 1937, 2870 should have been named “Manchester City” but was changed to “Tottenham Hotspur”. 2871 became “Manchester City”. In 1938, 2805 “Burnham Thorpe” was changed to “The Lincoln Shire Regt”. The first name chosen for 2847 was “Kimberley House” but called “Helmingham Hall” instead.

“Ipswich Town and Cambridge United were not chosen as they had not been elected to the football league. When these locos were withdrawn all the football clubs were offered the name plates. Tottenham Hotspur has theirs on show in the reception area of the west stand. To buy a name plate today would probably cost twice as much as the whole loco did! When British Rail took over they changed the numbers from 2800 to 61600. Sad to say not one B17 was saved for preservation. I did fire on them. My LNER service was 1941-1950 at Colchester and Parkeston Quay.”


The locomotive “Nottingham Forest” at Ipswich Station.


EDWARDIAN life in Ipswich was recalled in Kindred Spirits recently when I featured the memories of Criss Gyford, who was born in 1901. Among his memories was the day the crew of a German Zeppelin dropped bombs on Ipswich, including Brooks Hall Road.

Jacky Saville, of Ipswich, said “I was interested in the photo of Brooks Hall Road as I lived with my grandmother Lizzie Farnham at number 56. I remember her telling me about the bombing. At number 58, the other house damaged, lived Alice Easey and Elsie Warner. This picture shows the blazing houses in Brooks Hall Road, Ipswich following the Zeppelin raid on the night of April 30, 1915.