Days Gone By: On the site before health and safety

Crash. Demolition workers show little concern for their own safety as they demolish houses close to

Crash. Demolition workers show little concern for their own safety as they demolish houses close to St Matthews Church Lane, Ipswich, in the late 1950s. - Credit: Archant

David Kindred takes a look at past building sites around Ipswich before the introduction of health and safety including St Margaret’s church and Fore Street.

The Hippodrome Theatre, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, was being converted for use as a dance hall whe

The Hippodrome Theatre, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich, was being converted for use as a dance hall when this photograph was taken in June 1959. Workmen used muscle power to move a heavy piano off the stage - Credit: Archant

Health and safety rules cover most aspects of life now.

Pass any roadworks and you will see all staff with high-visibility clothing working behind barriers.

Lights control traffic and pedestrians are kept well clear of the site.

The presbytery at St Pancras Church in Orwell Place, Ipswich, was demolished in July 1957. The techn

The presbytery at St Pancras Church in Orwell Place, Ipswich, was demolished in July 1957. The technique seems to have been knocking the building down brick by brick and throwing them to colleagues below. The site is now the church car park - Credit: Archant

Access to building sites is strictly controlled with projects fenced off and access through turnstile gates.


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Staff in any office environment have to pay attention to rules around trip hazards, cables and electrical equipment.

Prior to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, attitudes were, to say the least, more relaxed.

A hands on technique, as streets of small houses, close to the Ipswich town centre were demolished i

A hands on technique, as streets of small houses, close to the Ipswich town centre were demolished in January 1959. The area is where Civic Drive and Wolsey Theatre are now. In this photograph Castle Street was being demolished. Other streets to disappear from the map were, St Matthews Church Lane, Mount Street, Perth Street, and Stirling Street - Credit: Archant

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While sometimes we are quick to complain when the rules seem to be a bit “over the top”, the number of accidents prevented and lives saved make it all worthwhile.

In today’s Days Gone By, I feature photographs from my archive taken in past decades – which will I am sure, surprise any safety inspector.

Do you have memories you would like to share with readers?

Workmen repairing the tower of St Margaret's Church, Ipswich, in October 1959, with little thought t

Workmen repairing the tower of St Margaret's Church, Ipswich, in October 1959, with little thought to their own safety. In the near background is Soane Street. Also featured is the spire of St Mary le Tower and the tower of St Lawrence Church - Credit: Archant

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 email here.

St Andrews Church, Chelmondiston, was damaged by a flying bomb on Sunday, December 10, 1944. The V1

St Andrews Church, Chelmondiston, was damaged by a flying bomb on Sunday, December 10, 1944. The V1 Doodlebuglanded on a cottage to the north of the churchyard. One person was killed by the blast. This photograph was taken as repairs started on rebuilding in the 1950s with men working unprotected - Credit: Archant

Old buildings in Fore Street, Ipswich, were demolished in January 1960. Workmen were using a ladder

Old buildings in Fore Street, Ipswich, were demolished in January 1960. Workmen were using a ladder to bring down brick work on a chimney. Star Lane now crosses Fore Street at this point, carrying hundreds of vehicles every hour - Credit: Archant

A long ladder and a hammer was the only equipment being used to knock down the chimney on a building

A long ladder and a hammer was the only equipment being used to knock down the chimney on a building next to a site cleared for rebuilding on Westgate Street, Ipswich, in May 1964. Two men were standing without protection watching bricks falling. The road was still open to pedestrians and traffic - Credit: Archant

Schoolboys were allowed to take a close look as a new storm water drain was installed in Cromer Road

Schoolboys were allowed to take a close look as a new storm water drain was installed in Cromer Road, Ipswich, in August 1960 - Credit: Archant

Workmen, from J Howard demolition contractors of Ipswich, dismantling the last windmill in Ipswich i

Workmen, from J Howard demolition contractors of Ipswich, dismantling the last windmill in Ipswich in the 1950s. The mill stood in Tower Mill Road, between Bramford Road and the River Gipping - Credit: Archant

The 500 year old Half Moon Inn, in at the junction of Lower Brook Street and Foundation Street, Ipsw

The 500 year old Half Moon Inn, in at the junction of Lower Brook Street and Foundation Street, Ipswich, being demolished for redevelopment of the site in March 1960. The man on the ladder was only protected from passing traffic with a wheel barrow in the road and a colleague standing with one foot on the bottom of the ladder - Credit: Archant

Workmen high on a ladder at the top of the Ipswich Town Hall early in the last century

Workmen high on a ladder at the top of the Ipswich Town Hall early in the last century - Credit: Archant

The term “Health and Safety” was decades away when this photograph was taken near Polstead in the 18

The term Health and Safety was decades away when this photograph was taken near Polstead in the 1890s. The safety of the workers using an open saw blade, driven by a steam engine, seems to have been low on the list - Credit: Archant

There was little to separate traffic and pedestrians in St Matthews Street, Ipswich, in February 195

There was little to separate traffic and pedestrians in St Matthews Street, Ipswich, in February 1956, as cables were being laid to the new telephone exchange being built in Portman Road. All of the buildings featured were demolished when the road was widened in the mid-1960s. The public house with the Cobbold sign was the Queens Head. Civic Drive now goes off to the right between the public house and the shops on the right - Credit: Archant

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