Memories pour in from lost 'locals'

I RECENTLY featured 100 public houses that have closed in our area. Many of them have gone in the last couple of decades and readers of Kindred Spirits have sent me their memories of “the local”.

David Kindred

I RECENTLY featured 100 public houses that have closed in our area. Many of them have gone in the last couple of decades and readers of Kindred Spirits have sent me their memories of “the local”.

Geoffrey Dodson, of Beaver Close, Lexden, Colchester, said: “My grandparents William and Kate Smith were the licensees of the Orwell Hotel on New Cut West from 1927 until May 1930.

“Before that they were at Elm Bakery, Cavendish Street from 1923 to 1927. The Orwell was at the corner of New Cut West and Bright Street and received considerable trade from the Great Eastern, later LNER ferry boats which plied the River Orwell from New Cut West.

“My grandparents moved to the Waveney Hotel, Bramford Road, in the spring of 1930 when it opened. Unfortunately my grandfather died suddenly in 1933 and my mother and father who had married in January 1933 moved in to run it with 'Granny Smith'.

“Then I appeared, born at the Waveney in March 1934. We left the Waveney in 1941. My father had gone back to sea in the Merchant Navy on the advent of the Second World War and lots of bombs had dropped all around the hotel, which had a clock tower in the garden. It was getting a little too much for two ladies to run a busy pub”.

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“The Waveney was the terminus of the Corporation trolleybus route eight, and there was a window facing up Bramford Road. I used to kneel there with my little notebook and at the age of five or six I was noting the trolleybus numbers, their order of arrival and departure.

“This must have been my first experience of duty schedules, my later life 'on the buses' at Eastern National, P & M Coaches, East Kent, National Travel and then Eastern National again, was just beginning.”

“When I was at P & M in the 1950s we used to have considerable evening work for darts matches for many of the pubs. Then, of course, there were the annual seaside pub trips to Yarmouth and Southend.

Jack Jay, of Arundel Way, Ipswich, has memories of several of the now closed pubs. He said: “In around 1938, when I was probably slightly underage, I had my very first taste of beer, in the Phoenix in Wingfield Street, when my cousin Les Humphrey took me there to meet the young lady, Doris Mulley, who eventually became his wife. The Phoenix was owned by a Mr Petch.

“From December 1951 until mid 1958 I worked as foreman of the body repair shop at Howes and Son garage in St George's Street, and I have to confess that at various times I sampled a pint or three at the Globe in St George's Street, the Rainbow and the Queen's Head in St Matthew's Street, which were all nearby.

“I used to go to the Queen's Head with a chap who worked in the car park at Howes garage. I could not keep up with his rate of consumption.

“It became customary for him to get the first round, and by the time I had taken off the froth of my pint he had banged down his empty mug and before the barmaid had even rung up the first sale he asked that she take another pint out of his money!

“The Ipswich Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association used to meet in the Marquis Cornwallis in Colman Street, and in the early 1960s the association bought the Maybush in St Helen's Street. I retired from business in 1988 and immediately took over as secretary and licensee of the club.

“We sold a lot of Adnams bitter, and we also had several members fond of whisky. At one time, in addition to blended whiskys, we had no less than eight single malts lined up in optics.

“As a member of the Ipswich Bicycle Club I used the Coach and Horses in Upper Brook Street where we had the use of a large clubroom at the rear of the premises.

“I also have memories of the Spotted Cow, starting from about 1926. It was situated right opposite my grandparents' pork butcher's shop, H N Burrows.

“In the yard beside the pub was an area where pigs, bought in from the country, were slaughtered for the shop.

“Prior to World War Two I worked with Jim Wright at Bull Motors and his parents kept the Zulu in Wolsey Street. I believe Jim later took it over, and I certainly remember his sister entertaining the customers with a piano accordion.

“Sadly I cannot see much of a future for public houses in their present form because we now live in a totally different world from that which made 'locals' the mainstay of the communities in many areas of our towns.

“You point out that in the heyday of locals they provided warmth and comfort for many who did not have those commodities at home, but they were not places where you would take your partner. Indeed most men then never took their partners anywhere! And the partners did not expect it!

“There was little or no competition in the form of entertainment then, and while I do not believe there is a great deal of difference in the relative cost of beer against wages today, there was then little else for working people to spend their few shillings on.

“People didn't have large credit card debts or expensive cars to cope with, and holidays abroad were not even considered and, of course, we did not know what breathalysers were.”

Joan Evens, of Spitfire Close, Ipswich, said: “My uncle Ted Howe and his wife used to keep the Duke of Kent in Upper Orwell Street. I think they were the last couple to have it in the 30s and the beginning of the 40s.

“It was a huge pub with many bedrooms and a very large kitchen where my brother and I used to have our Sunday dinner because my parents worked there in the evenings and weekend. It was always full of customers and someone always played the piano including myself.

“My aunt and uncle used to provide accommodation for seamen who were waiting for ships at Ipswich Dock.”

M Garnham, of Bramford, had family connections with one of the public houses in the Stoke area of Ipswich.

“He wrote: “I have a memory of the Britannia Inn in the Stoke area of Ipswich, which my parents Jack “Chesty” and Dolly Barber kept until 1956. I married from there and my first child was born there in 1956.”

Terry Platten, of Goring Road, Ipswich, has fond memories of the Running Buck on St Margarets's Plain, Ipswich. Terry said: “When I moved to Ipswich in 1979 the pub that I and colleagues frequented was the “Running Buck”. It was an excellent pub, and after a few beers we retired to the disco and nightclub at the rear of the premises where we drank and danced until the early hours of the morning.

“At this time the Americans from the base were frequent visitors. Alas poor “Running Buck” we knew it well. What will we have in the future, wine bars, houses and flats? How sad, another part of our young days and heritage in Ipswich destroyed.”

Norman Parkinson, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, recalls several of the pubs featured. He said: “I was born in the Griffin in Bath Street, but my family was moved from there following the 1953 floods to the then new Chantry estate.

“The pictures of the old pubs have brought back great memories. I used to go into the Queens Head in St Matthew's Street before going to see bands at the Baths Hall in the 1960s.

“We could then share a pint with the likes of Rod Stewart who was appearing over the road at Bluesville.”

“The Earl Roberts in Cox Lane was in more recent years a live music pub. My youngest daughter saw live music there. The Rose of England in Woodbridge Road is now a Chinese takeaway restaurant.

“This was my grandfather's local pub. He used to take me there for a 'shandy' and a packet of Smith's crisps which came with a small packet of salt.

“The White Elm in Paper Mill Lane was popular with the staff of Fison's. The Zulu in Wolsey Street was opposite the Ipswich Council maintenance depot where I served a five year apprenticeship as a decorator.”