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Days Gone By: Coverage of floods captured changes to the town’s landscape

PUBLISHED: 16:30 30 November 2018

A high tide in September 1969 saw the area around Stoke Bridge, Ipswich flooded. This photograph, from a silo at the dock, shows the rail yard and part of Commercial Road under water. The bridge over the river is now a dual carriageway, with the road cutting through the site of the British Fermentation Products Ltd mill in the centre of the picture. A skate park in now on part of the mill site. Cardinal Park is now top right of this view. Picture: IAN MCGRATH

A high tide in September 1969 saw the area around Stoke Bridge, Ipswich flooded. This photograph, from a silo at the dock, shows the rail yard and part of Commercial Road under water. The bridge over the river is now a dual carriageway, with the road cutting through the site of the British Fermentation Products Ltd mill in the centre of the picture. A skate park in now on part of the mill site. Cardinal Park is now top right of this view. Picture: IAN MCGRATH

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David Kindred takes a look at Ipswich before flood defences and readers memories of local bands and more.

A group of police officers watch as the water at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, gets close to the edge of the quay in September 1969. Picture: IAN MCGRATH A group of police officers watch as the water at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, gets close to the edge of the quay in September 1969. Picture: IAN MCGRATH

Before better flood defences were built along the River Orwell in Ipswich very high tides would often flood the low areas of the town.

A similar problem occurred during torrential rain until drainage was improved.

Photographers from this newspaper would record the downpours and high tides.

In recording the flood water their photographs also captured changes to the town.

Traffic flows again as flood water recedes around the Stoke Bridge area of Ipswich in September 1969. This photograph was taken from the rail crossing into the dock area. Picture: IAN MCGRATHTraffic flows again as flood water recedes around the Stoke Bridge area of Ipswich in September 1969. This photograph was taken from the rail crossing into the dock area. Picture: IAN MCGRATH

Buildings in the background were of relatively little interest at the time, now many of them are gone as the town has changed over the decades.

Also captured are vehicles we drove decades ago. Cars and lorries featured would now be collector’s items or preserved 
in a museum.

Local rock, blues and pop bands of the 1960s featured recently and readers have sent their memories:

Graham Day from Stowmarket wrote: “The Wild Oats graced the Valley Stage at the annual Co-operative and Labour Fete in Christchurch Park in the early 1960s. I recall seeing them play, and I can vividly remember their Bedford Van parked on the grass near the stage. Up until a few years ago they did an annual re-union concert at Leiston Cinema, these shows were always sell outs. I did go to see them on a couple of occasions, although they were older, they had lost none of their spark. I never saw Nick and the Nomads play as I was marginally too young to go to their gigs. They changed their name to Nix-Nomads and recorded “You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You”, with a B side of “She’ll be Sweeter Than You”.

A group of men watching the water overflowing the Quay at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, in September 1969. In the background is the British Fermentation Products Ltd mill. Picture: IAN MCGRATH 
A group of men watching the water overflowing the Quay at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, in September 1969. In the background is the British Fermentation Products Ltd mill. Picture: IAN MCGRATH

“The band did a signing session at a record shop in the Buttermarket, Ipswich. I got a signed copy, prized possession! A few years ago, as an interviewer for a social research organisation, I interviewed band member Roy Clover. I said that his name was quite famous locally, he said that even now people still talk to him about the record. A copy of the record was on sale a few years ago in the Oxfam shop in Ipswich for £50. I saw The Cool School several times, both at the Fete and a memorable gig, at I recall, the Cranes Social Club in Playford Road. I managed to catch a single thrown into the crowd by the supporting disc jockey on the night. The band always had an excellent stage presence, fronted by Nick Wymer ( “Nick” of Nick and the Nomads).

“Les Blues I did not see, but have seen Geno Washington since. Interestingly enough, Geno “retired” from the music scene, and in the 1970s, lived in the Stoke Park area of Ipswich. It was when he heard “Geno” by Dexys Midnight Runners that he decided to return to performing. The Peter Croft Blues band were a particular “must see” band. One of my friends at the time, worked with Peter at the offices of the Department of Health and Social Security in Ipswich. If you wanted authentic blues, then they were the most excellent, authentic, exponents of the genre. One of their most memorable gigs was in the hall at Copleston High School, Ipswich, on a warm summers evening, with the windows and doors open, and the most beautiful hauntingly blues drifting across the adjoining playing field. Wonderful! Band member, Paul Gill, continued playing in local bands, I recall seeing him backing the late Dick Heckstall-Smith, the saxophonist with the Graham Bond Organisation, who played an excellent gig at the Smock in Maidenhall Approach, Ipswich.”

Roger Dowsing added: “We were The Syndicate and played locally from early 1964 to late 1966. The band comprised Mike Bull on lead guitar and lead vocals, Robin Thorpe on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Jim Read on drums and Roger Dowsing on bass guitar and backing vocals. We were all at Castle Hill Primary School, Ipswich, but had no idea that we would form a band. We all went to Northgate Grammar school and as we lived close we formed friendships that blossomed into a musical friendship while at Northgate and we formed the band while in our last years there. I am the only one still playing and have been the bass player in a local barn dance band since 1985 called Inertia Reel, plus a solo folk and Country singer/guitarist in pubs and clubs around Ipswich. I am still performing as a result of the great Ipswich music scene in the 60s.”

William Martin from Sudbourne shared his memories: “I have great memories of the Wild Oats from Leiston, I saw them many times in the mid 60s. They were a great R and B band playing numbers such as Route 66, Walking the Dog, Poison Ivy, I Saw Her Standing There, Midnight Hour etc.

Flood water at the junction of the dock and New Cut East in October 1967. The gas holder at Ipswich Dock was taken down in 1977. Picture: IVAN SMITH
Flood water at the junction of the dock and New Cut East in October 1967. The gas holder at Ipswich Dock was taken down in 1977. Picture: IVAN SMITH

“They ran free buses from Leiston to wherever they were playing locally, as not many of us had cars. They also played in London. They played at Gorleston Floral Hall where they supported big names including the Kinks, Hollies, Animals and Georgie Fame.

“In 1963/64 they issued a limited edition EP on the Oak label. This is now worth over £750. The band spit in late 1967 and have played several reunions since, which have always been very well supported.”

The Ship Launch, Ipswich, public house featured recently and a reader from Essex has named one of the customers enjoying a pint.

Colin Springthorpe from Bradfield in Essex said: “I am a regular reader and I very much like your picture features. I was amazed to see a picture of an old acquaintance of mine. Mike Cambell was an Ipswich River Pilot and was well known in the Marine Fraternity.”

Water starts to overflow the quay at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, in October 1967. Picture: IVAN SMITH
Water starts to overflow the quay at St Peters Dock, Ipswich, in October 1967. Picture: IVAN SMITH

A reader from Sproughton wonders if anybody has a photograph of the day the Queen passed through the village during a visit to Suffolk.

Can you help June Webb from Sproughton? She said: “I have lived in Sproughton all my life and remember the Queen’s car coming along the High Street in the village during, I think, the 1950s. Residents put up a painted banner across the road saying “Welcome”. The police had said nothing should be above the Queen, but allowed us to keep it up. Does anyone have a photo of this occasion?”

The Automobile Association’s service site at Copdock featured recently and one of the staff members pictured has been identified.

One of the AA men featured was my dear dad Francis Pike. He lived at Hintlesham nearly all his life with his dear wife Lilian. He worked for the AA from 1929 until he retired in 1973.

The road dips under the rail bridge in Wherstead Road, Ipswich. This part of the road often flooded during very heavy rain. This photograph was taken as a dustcart makes its way through after a thunderstorm in June 1963. Picture: IVAN SMITH
The road dips under the rail bridge in Wherstead Road, Ipswich. This part of the road often flooded during very heavy rain. This photograph was taken as a dustcart makes its way through after a thunderstorm in June 1963. Picture: IVAN SMITH

Roger Pike from Ipswich said: “He had to leave the AA during the Second World War, but returned soon after. He started at the AA with a push bike, then went onto a motor bike and sidecar. In 1962 he was given a mini van. He then had a gap of around five years, making signs for the organisation for events like the Suffolk Show. My mum was often by his side helping and making tea for the AA men. When dad retired he spent time looking after his bees.”

Do the photographs featured bring memories for you? To submit a letter, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS, or send an e-mail.

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