Memories of Foxhall Road

CHARLES Street in Ipswich, is an address which now makes us think of little more than an ugly multi story car park close to the Ipswich town centre. The street was one of several close to Crown Street, many of which disappeared from the map in the mid 1960s.

CHARLES Street in Ipswich, is an address which now makes us think of little more than an ugly multi story car park close to the Ipswich town centre.

The street was one of several close to Crown Street, many of which disappeared from the map in the mid 1960s. Few of the houses of Beck, Peel, Chenery, Fitzroy, William, Navarre, and Charles Street are with us today. This once thriving community has gone, but not the memories of life there.

I featured a photograph of a small corner shop in this part of town in Kindred Spirits a few weeks ago. Frances Priestnall of Levington tells me her parents Fred and Rosetta Leeks ran the shop in William Street featured. They moved to the shop from Charles Street about 1920.

Frances said “There were four children, myself, Phylis, Fred and Russell. The house only had two bedrooms. My father worked at Ipswich Dock and my mother ran the shop and I always had to help her.”

Ethel Gratton of Ipswich, was born at 8 Charles Street in 1922. Ethel lived in the tiny house with her parents Alice and Bill and sisters Freda and Lil'.

Ethel said: “We only had a tiny back yard and no garden. We used to go to Christchurch Park to play with a bat and ball or a skipping rope. We made our own fun in a part of town where there was no trouble or vandalism. Everybody knew each other. We children would go to the shoemakers shop at the corner of Beck Street and William Street to ask for studs to put on the base of our spinning tops.

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“Children from there either went to St Matthews School or St Helens. I was a pupil at St Helens. I left St Helens School aged fourteen and went to work at a small shop in St Geroge's Street. I started with a wage of five shillings a week. Times were hard then and I gave my mother four shillings of my wages to help with family expenses. I then went to work at a branch of Hales the chemists shop at the corner of Upper Brook Street and Tacket Street This was when everybody took their family films to the local chemists shop for processing. I worked in the darkrooms for around seven years. My wages when I started there were ten shillings (50p) a week.”

Do you have memories of living in the houses around Charles Street, Ipswich? Write to Kindred Spirits t the Evening Star.

I have in recent weeks featured several readers' memories of living in the Foxhall Road area of Ipswich. The shops, including barbers and cycle repair shops, were part of life before many were put out of business by the supermarket giants.

Jack Jay of Arundel Way, Ipswich, can remember many of the shops and characters, Jack said: “Ken Cuff was a barber of the 'old school' on Foxhall Road. He cut my hair for years and when my older son was old enough he went there with me. As we sat waiting our turn there was often a stream of people passing through to the room at the rear of the shop, where the local “bookie” held court!”

The Boswell family ran several businesses in Foxhall Road. He added: “My mother was a friend, and customer, of Eva Boswell at her haberdashery shop. I had all my business stationery printed by Alec Boswell. His brother Fred lived in Digby Road and ran his watch repair business in what was the old entrance hall of the premises behind his mothers shop. In addition to his expertise at repairing watches, Fred was an accomplished magician and children's entertainer.

“Doddington's cycle shop was where my first cycle came from in 1932. It was then run by Ike Doddington, and when he died his son Fred took over. On Fred's death his brother-in-law took over. On the other corner of Wellesley Road, was the shop owned and run by Gilbert Rowden who was also a skilled photographer. Next to Stern's the Chemists was the Ruskin Engineering Company. It was formerly Pike and Barrell's Garage, Fred Garrard carried out upholstery repairs on cars. On the other corner of Ruskin Road, is the shop of C. E. Matthew's. It was started by Cyril Matthews, but was later built up to the business it is today by Ray Follet and Cyril Cowling.

“Dr Reginald Eades lived, and had his surgery, at the last house before Alan Road and between his house and Alan Road was the Hope House Orphanage. Another corner shop was at the end of Newton Road, run by Reggie Mann, whose parents had a thriving dairy in Dover Road. At the corner of Tomline Road, in my childhood was a shop owned by “Privy” Rice. I have no idea how that name originated, but my father never referred to it by any other name!

“I wonder how many today realise that the town's electric old trams ran from the town centre along Spring Road, up St John's Hill, then along Cauldwell Hall Road Road to a terminus in front of the Derby Road Station. They could not turn round, so the driver simply walked through to the other end of the tram and made his return journey from that position.”

John Harrold of Risby Close, Ipswich, also has memories of the same part of Ipswich. John said: “I was also a pupil at Britannia Primary, of which I remember wonderful times with a Miss Phillips, Miss Rice and Mr Ward, who still lives in the Ipswich area. “I attended Copleston Secondary Modern for a year or so and remember Mr Scott the headmaster. Teacher Mr Stowe often made use of a “slipper”. Other teachers then were Mr Cubbin, Howie, Last, Ladbroke, Searle.

“At the corner of Parliament Road and Freehold Road was a tiny shop, which was owned by a dear old lady, Mrs Cheshire, who was quite short. Often it would take a while to be served, as, being deaf, she didn't always hear the door. We popped in to get a few penny worth of sweets etcetera. On the corner of Freehold Road and Britannia Road there used to be a grocers, which is now a hairdressing salon. “There were several Co-op stores, which had the change sent across the shop in sausage-shape contraptions. One Co-op shop was at the corner of Woodbridge Road and Howard Street, it is now a motorist's accessories shop.

“As boys we played ball in the street, trying to throw it high over the wires connecting the street lights. There were then still a few gas street lamps. In winter we would often go on Rushmere Heath and have snow ball fights. We spent countless hours on Newbury Road recreation ground. There was a round swing and a cheese cutter, both of which I often fell off and had a grazed knee or a sore bottom. We had none of this health and safety brigade then!

“Many other hours were spent watching the trains go by at either Derby Road station or sometimes at Gippeswyk Park, often at a seat nearby a wonderful signal gantry.”

While working at Cranes, Nacton Road, in the early 60s, we had a shunter steam engine in the yard which brought in the “coke” trucks off the Ipswich to Felixstowe line. What happened to this graceful engine after its retirement? Are there any photographs of it?”

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