No rage on the road, only horse deposits

FARM land with fields of corn swaying in the breeze and wild heathland, is how Jack Jay, of Arndel Way, Ipswich, remembers the part of Ipswich when he was a boy.

FARM land with fields of corn swaying in the breeze and wild heathland, is how Jack Jay, of Arndel Way, Ipswich, remembers the part of Ipswich when he was a boy.

Then the last roads, when leaving town on Foxhall Road, were Britannia Road and Dover Road.

Jack said: “My family moved to live in Dover Road at the end of 1922, where, apart from my service with the RAF during WW2, I lived until I married in 1951. In those early days Dover Road was only tarmac for two thirds of its length and the remainder was simply a dirt track, as was the whole of Exeter Road. A clear illustration of how different things were then is that in Dover Road there were only six people who owned motor vehicles. They were Police Sergeant Aldridge, Mr Mann a milkman, Mr Blackburn a chemist, Mr Vinyard a motor engineer, Mr Osborn and Major Smith a haulage contractor, based in Tomline Road.

“Most local deliveries were carried out by horse-drawn vehicles and the biggest hazard they presented was avoiding the deposits left in the roads!

“What may be more surprising to many people today is that Dover and Britannia Roads were the last roads leading off Foxhall Road. The next road off was at Kesgrave, Bell Lane/Monument Farm Lane.

“A track led off opposite the Golf Hotel, which gave access to Bixley Farm, this is now Bixley Drive, and a similar track giving access to Mill Farm, this became Heath Lane. On the corner of Heath Lane and Foxhall Road, there is still the large house which was the original house of Mill Farm, which was farmed by my grandfather, John Jay and the track gave access to the farm buildings and several fields. The farm extended over land where now stands Chilton Road, Princethorpe Road, Bixley Road, Heath Road and part of the Broke Hall estate. A large meadow occupied the area where Chilton Road and Temple Road now stand and it was used on Saturdays by the local Boy's Brigade Companies, as a football pitch. Two redundant trams were sited on the meadow, to be used as changing rooms, but since cows grazed the meadow all the week, I hesitate to think what state some of the players must have gone home in!

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“Many boys in those days scrounged “Tate and Lyle” wooden sugar boxes from the grocer's shop and once fitted with axles and wheels taken from old prams, made excellent small carts to use when gathering the 'deposits' from the many horses then using the roads. Fathers were provided with means of fertilising their roses and hopefully a little extra pocket money was earned!

“My grandfather was a strict disciplinarian, so my visits to the farm were of a rather restricted nature, but there were often happy memories, though I recall that on one occasion I was exploring the stables and found a door that I had not noticed before.”

Further investigation revealed a hole in the door about three feet from the floor through which I peered to see what lay beyond. I suddenly realised that I was looking straight into the eye of the farm bull, which was peering from his pen wondering what he could hear. Linford Christie would have been a poor second in my flight from those stables.

“When my grandfather died, in December 1930, his family continued to live in the house, but all the land was sold off for development and I often cycled home from the Northgate School through where Heath Road was being built. Where I now live, in Arundel Way, was beyond the farm limits and is built on land that was named 'The Trenches, because it was where trenches had been dug by the Territorial Army (Royal Artillery) soldiers when on exercises with their guns.”

• Foxhall Heath became home to the Ipswich Witches Speedway team in 1951 and the early days at Foxhall, when crowds of over 15,000 were regular at the stadium, were recalled by readers of Kindred Spirits.

When I left school, aged 14 in 1961, I started work at a photographic processing company, Photokraft at 1 London Road, Ipswich. I often used to admire the framed photographs on the office wall taken by the owner of the company Donald Harris, who was also the photographer at Ipswich Speedway.

Mrs W. Wyatt (nee Hood) of Burke Road, Ipswich, said: “Your look back at Ipswich Speedway brought wonderful memories of when I was seventeen; I am now 72.

“I worked for a company called “Photokraft”, at London Road, Ipswich. My employer was Donald Harris who used to take photos at the speedway meetings. I would take orders from the fans who wanted any photographs of the riders. I loved to watch the races and enjoyed my nights at the meetings; it was such a great atmosphere. They were the good old days, thank you for reminding me of them”.

Dennis Stockdale of Shenstone Drive, Ipswich said: “I used to dress up in the colours and was cheer leader; I was on the Ipswich Speedway Supporters Club committee.

“My wife and I had a tandem and we used to cycle to away tracks.”

Alan Wignall of Alabaster Close, Hadleigh added: “I started watching Ipswich Speedway as a very young man in the 1960s. In those days they used the bigger track, which is round the outside of the present one. The names I can recall from those early days in the Witches team were Peter Moore, Ray Cresp, Jimmy Squibb, Jack Unstead, Les McGillivary, Ian McGillivary, and Leif Larson. In 1969 a new era started at Foxhall by the early 1970s we had a local based team, which included John Louis, Tony Davey, and Billy Sanders, with tremendous back up from Mike Lanham and Ted Howgego. Over the seasons I was lucky enough to see many great world champions race at Foxhall, including, Ove Fundin, Peter Craven, Peter Collins, Ole Olsen, Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger, Anders Michanek, Tony Rickardsson, and Bruce Penhall.”

Michael Collyer of Cambridge Road, Kesgrave said: “I lived then in Heath Road, Ipswich and with all our neighbours we walked across Rushmere Heath to the speedway. Then we had no car or television and the meetings were the highlight of the week! Rider 'Junior' Bainbridge lodged with my next-door neighbour and all the team would show up frequently, so I got to know them quite well. When rider Charlie Frenzal had the accident referred to in a recent Kindred Spirits he was in the next bed at the hospital, which was literally at the bottom of my garden. I had an accident with my job as a locomotive fireman on the railway and ended up with a broken back and spent six months in a plaster jacket from neck to knees and a further two and a half years in a steel support. It ended to my footplate career on British Railways, but I recovered and had my own miniature railway at Felixstowe from 1960 onwards. “Charlie and I remained friends and despite his disability caused by the crash, like me he recovered and started a fresh life. He was very good at woodwork and he made a lovely little station building for my miniature railway at Felixstowe. The little railway ran for over 40 years. My love of steam railway locomotives has never left me.

“I am now in my eighty-seventh year and I still have the time of my life running my engines every week in the summer, I'm only a little boy at heart!”

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