Days Gone By: Looking back at an old Ipswich school site's past
PUBLISHED: 11:30 18 September 2018
David Kindred takes a look at a previous Ipswich school, Martin Newbys in Fore Street, and Fisons works at Cliff Quay. Does this article bring back memories for you?
The site once occupied by The Convent of Jesus and Mary, off Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, is now mostly occupied by homes in St Marys Road and St Anthonys Crescent.
In 1860 the school was founded by a group of French nuns who moved into a small house on what was then known as Albion Hill, which is now Woodbridge Road. They formed a day school in a house next to the church. An orphanage was opened in 1862.
In 1868 a new larger building opened. By the mid 1970s nuns no longer taught there and an independent trust took over and it became The School of Jesus and Mary. In 1996 the school closed and much of the site was cleared for redevelopment. In todays Days Gone By I feature photographs taken at the school. Were you a pupil there?
Martin and Newbys, shop in Fore Street, Ipswich, featured in a recent Days Gone By. The shop stocked a wide range of goods including electrical and ironmongery.
John Sparks emailed in and said: “In the early 70s I bought The Old Rectory at Sproughton. It was built in the 1930s to replace the former “Old Rectory” that stood by the church, but like that, it became too expensive to run and so stood semi derelict for a while before I bought it from the church.
Clearly vicars were better off in those days as it had a Martin & Newby servant’s bell/flag box in the “butler’s pantry” and utility room. There were bell pushes in all the main rooms, they did not work as it was fed by a wire fuse holder that was missing from the white ceramic fuse box. I went to get a modern replacement from Martin and Newbys and yes, of course, they still had in stock the exact original white ceramic fuse holder. Talk about service!
Paul Fisher wrote in and said: “I recognise the member of staff with a beard as Tony Mullet. He was a manager of the electrical department.
“I was at school with him at Northgate Grammar School 1947-54.”
One of the photographs, included in the feature about Martin and Newby’s, was of a mangle. This large iron piece of equipment was used to remove excess water from washing.
Mrs N Wyatt wrote in and said: “When I married in 1954 I lived with my parents until I got a council house. Monday was always washing day. Mum would boil all the whites in a copper then transfer them to a small bath of cold water and place a ‘Blue Bag” in. This was to rinse the washing before putting it through the mangle, it was hard work.
“When I got my house I too had a copper and mangle. It was not until my eldest daughter, who was working, bought me a washing machine that things were certainly easier, especially with five children.”
A photograph of a trolley bus accident on Bishops Hill, Ipswich, has brought a letter from a Kesgrave man who was a passenger on the top deck who remarkably climbed of the bus and carried on walking into town.
Ted Mason also wrote in and said “I am always interested in your Days Gone By pages, as at 91 I go back a long way. I have lived in and around Ipswich since war broke out in 1939. To my surprise and amazement you published a photograph of a trolley bus on its side on Bishops Hill.
“I was on the top deck of that bus on my way to town. As we started down Bishops Hill the bus started to wobble, gathering speed it then swerved and turned over. I made my way down to the lower deck, I think there were three people below. The driver said the brakes were not working. Nobody seemed to be injured. I climbed out of the back window and made my way into town. What a surprise! I have included a photograph taken in 1942 at Quick Repair Service in Upper Orwell Street next to St Michaels Church. Members of the staff are standing outside, I am on the trade bike on the left. Mr Dent had three more shops on the other side of the road and one in Fore Street. We worked on forces contracts and civvy shoes, sometimes into the late evening.”
Aerial photographs of Fisons works at Cliff Quay, Ipswich and of their offices at Harvest House Felixstowe, featured in Days Gone By recently.
This bought back memories for John Quinsee from Felixstowe, he said: “I worked for Fisons for 20 years between January 1, 1959 and January 31,1979. In 1959 the main business of the company was agricultural fertilisers, but they had started to diversify. Fisons Pest Control Ltd, an agrochemical company, was based at Harston, near Cambridge, Fisons Horticulture at Bramford and Fisons FarmWork, a contracting company, at Feering in Essex. In the late 50s they bought Sanatogen Tonic Wine and Bengers Baby Food. Fisons Pharmaceuticals, which was to become their main focus in the 1970s, was still in its infancy and was concerned mainly with manufacturing scientific instruments. Chairman of the Group was Sir Clavering Fison, who lived and farmed at Stutton. I started at Harvest House, Felixstowe, on a salary of £520 a year, (£10 a week). The training was good and I loved working there. In the evenings I could play squash in the Harvest House squash courts and afterwards go for a drink in The Galleon, a Tolly Cobbold pub, to the left of the main entrance to Harvest House.
“In 1960 I transferred to the Ipswich sales office based in Gyppeswick House, now the headquarters of Red Rose chain. Shortly after I arrived in Ipswich the sales office was moved from Gyppeswick Avenue into the brand new offices in Princes Street, built with money loaned from the Fisons Pension Fund. In 1972 after a couple of promotions I was appointed Sales Manager for the Eastern District. By that time, the sales office had been moved out of Princes Street and into the administrative block at the Cliff Quay factory. By switching the sales office to Cliff Quay the company was able to avoid paying SET on sales staff as they were based at a factory site and thus exempt. Princes Street was then used to house the overflow from Felixstowe where the Head Office had outgrown the available space at Harvest House. My memories of Cliff Quay are mainly about the incredible noise level in the granulating plant and the thick layers of dust which covered the plant operators and everything else. Outside the dust turned to sludge every time it rained. A venomous cloud of yellow smoke was emitted from the sulphuric acid plant. From time to time this led to complaints from the residents of Landseer Road whose washing turned yellow on the line. For all that Fisons was a good company and I thoroughly enjoyed my 20 years. Sadly, from 1975 onwards, the Board starved the fertiliser division of capital which was diverted instead to the pharmaceutical business where, we were told, the returns were much better. Without the necessary investment the fertiliser division fell way behind its main rival ICI and was sold to Norsk Hydro in 1981. At the same time the pharmaceutical business was sold to Rhone Poulenc and so a famous old Ipswich business just disappeared from the map.”
Rosemary Farrow from Ipswich also shared her memories, she said: “My husband, Stuart Farrow, worked at Fisons Cliff Quay from 1969 to 1977 when sadly he died. He was a shop steward and worked on production shift work. He worked with Ronnie Newlands, Fred Boon and Gordon Sparkes, sadly now all gone. “They were very good days. Fisons had a good social club and my girls always enjoyed the summer event and Christmas parties. I remember my husband coming home from work covered with fertiliser and shaking his overalls over the lawn-we had a very nice lawn.”
Malcom Boreham from Ipswich was employed by Fisons in 1959 he said:
“On January 26, 1959, at the age of 17, I started employment in the dispatch department at Fisons Fertilisers Cliff Quay, Ipswich works. The department was divided into two small offices with three people in each. I was with Margaret Smith and Rosemary Coe. Although I left Fisons in September 1970 my wife and I are still in regular contact with the two ladies. My starting salary was £220 per annum and the ceiling salary for a male employee was £751 at the age of 31. I moved to the accounts department where I held five different positions before leaving in 1970.”
Do you have memories to share? To submit a letter, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org