Rebuilding a town

A couple of weeks ago I featured photographs of the Key Street / College Street area of the town showing what it was like around 1930.That was before some of the buildings, now being demolished in the redevelopment of the dock, were built.

A couple of weeks ago I featured photographs of the Key Street / College Street area of the town showing what it was like around 1930.

That was before some of the buildings, now being demolished in the redevelopment of the dock, were built.

Another part of the former dock, which has been transformed with a huge block of flats, is Neptune Quay, near Coprolite Street.

If you were feeling too cheerful for your own good, a trip to the Duke Street / Coprolite Street area on a rainy day before the area was redeveloped, would soon bring you down to earth!

The former fertiliser factory in Coprolite Street held little charm and during heavy rain the area was often under water. By the end of the 1960s Ransomes Sims and Jefferies engineering works had largely moved to Nacton Road and the site was looking very sad. The gas works did not provide the most charming backdrop to the run down industrial scene.

Now, where was once a view of cargo ships unloading, there are expensive craft tied up in the marina for new residents of the flats to view from their balconies.

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Coprolite Street takes its name from the fertilizer trade which became established in Ipswich area around 1850. The works was on the site of the former St Clements shipyard, which was moved downriver to near Cliff Brewery when the dock was built.

Coprolite Street was cut through from Duke Street when the fertilizer factory was built. The works did not operate for long as the smell when ground coprolite, quarried in East Suffolk, was mixed with sulphuric acid was overpowering for the town. Work was moved to Packard's works at Bramford and the dock site was used for storage.

Coprolite actually means fossilised dung.

Photographs and memories of Kenny's Bakery in Spring Road, Ipswich, were featured recently in Kindred Spirits. Today more readers have sent me memories of this popular family business and of life in this part of town.

Gerald Soloman, of Cattsfield, Stutton, grew up in the Spring Road area of Ipswich. Gerald said: “As a resident of St Johns for seventeen years I have many memories of Cowper Street and Kenny's Bakeries. I knew most of the Kenny family and can remember when bread was 4p for a 2lb loaf and a small loaf was 2d. Often I was told to take pears in a basin or earthenware pot for Mr Kenny to put in his oven, next day I would collect and pay 3d.

“I attended the Congregational Church and I was a member of the Boys Brigade and used to meet up with the boys from California School where I was attending. In 1927 I went to the Central School in Smart Street as it was then, later moved to Tower Ramparts. As boys we used to work a lot and spend a lot of time on Rushmere Heath, there was a part we used to call the soldiers ground where in the First World War they used to practice rifle drill and firing, the trenches were still there. There were also some goalposts which California School used to use.

“There were no houses on the Woodbridge Road after you got past the Heathlands Work House, which is now part of the Ipswich Hospital site. Colchester Road and Heath Road hadn't been thought of. Until the mid 1920s trams and then trolley buses used to run as far as Lattice Barn Inn and on a fine Sunday evening families used to walk into the country from there. At the bottom of Bent Lane on the A12 there used to stand a small concrete building which was the old Turnpike House.

“I attended St Johns Infants School in Cauldwell Hall Road, 1921-23. The head at that time was a Miss Leverett, it was a mixed school and I can remember a large room being divided off by green curtains which would take about three classes and at assembly these would be drawn back where we would have prayers and hymns to start the day.

“Teachers included, Miss Price and Mrs Ray. The building was old then and very cold in winter with open fires so it was unfortunate if you sat at the back. I only stayed at this school for two years and then went to California School. I spent my formative years in St Johns and remember Lay's Butcher opposite the school in Cauldwell Hall Road also Lee's post office and hardware shop in Spring Road opposite the Old Times public house.

“California School was all boys and a very different atmosphere. Opposite the school was a public house, the California Arms, next to this was St Johns Congregational Church, we used to attend on Sunday mornings, afternoons and in the evening with our parents. I remember Mr Ramm was our superintendent, very happy memories.”

John Ager of Cliff Lane, Ipswich said: “I worked a delivery boy for Mrs Mulley at Kenny's in the middle 50's and remember Percy, the baker; Paul, the 'dogsbody', Gracie Pierpoint in the office, Mrs Lenny who dealt with the orders and her son Clive who delivered the orders on the old trade bike before me. As a youngster I lived almost opposite Joseph Hunts Dairy and Bakery and enjoyed watching the horses coming and going.

“I remember going into the dairy on many occasions to ask for some of the card milk bottle tops. We used them to make pompoms after pushing out the centre and wrapping lots of wool round the ring and then cutting the loops before removing the card.

“The bakery held great attraction for us as we used to creep in and pick up odd bits of dough. We'd knock them together and the men would put them in the great oven to bake for us but we'd eat them before we went home - wonderful! There was little worry about hygiene, health and safety then”.

“I am always interested in your articles about old Ipswich and love looking at the photographs that you've found. So often I see parts of Ipswich that I've forgotten about and they bring back many happy memories. How times have changed!”

Mrs Ramsey of Suffolk Place, Woodbridge, added some more information about this part of Ipswich. She said: “My grandparents, Mr and Mrs H Clarke, lived for a short while around 1940 in a little cottage behind Kenny's. It was a short drift leading from Cowper Street. In one of the cottages were, I think, the Ward family who had a daughter around my age. The cottages were demolished and Mandy Close now stands there.”

“I used to fetch hot rolls for breakfast from the bakery for my aunt who I stayed with because she was afraid to be alone during the air raids of World War Two. I was only twelve at the time and was frightened too!”

Yvonne Davey of Meadowside Gardens, Rushmere St Andrew, said: “My first memory of Cowper Street was getting off the trolley bus at the Elm Public House at the corner of Milton Street and Spring Road around sixty years ago. My grandparents Gertrude and Orris Laws lived at 22 Cowper Street and the end of Kenny's orchard. The side of the cottages faced the orchard and I can remember there were pigs kept there who ate the apples. My Aunt Emily Gilbert and Uncle Charlie lived a number 3 The Drift, which was beside the cottage. On Saturdays I would run errands for her and take accumulator for her radio to Harvey's cycle shop on Spring Road to be recharged. Many people relied on accumulators for their radio sets then. My reward was a rich tea biscuit and a glass of lemonade.”

“My grandparents had five children. Their son George is the last surviving member of the family and he now lives at Stratford Court aged 92. All the children attended California School. It is hard to believe they all lived in that tiny house with only two bedrooms. They had gas lights as there was no electricity. There was no bathroom and only a toilet in the garden.”

Another larger bakery in the same part of Ipswich in the 1950s was the Co.op in Cauldwell Hall Road; Eddie Clowe of Hutland Road, said: “I started working there as a boy in 1958 on the vans for a wage of £3 per week. A drivers take home pay was £9. There were over 50 electric and petrol vans that went out daily. Mr Blenkinsop was the manager and Tom Moxan the foreman. On Fridays we delivered to the Debenham area with a 7.30am start and finishing almost twelve hours later. Our Bedford van was stacked to the roof when we started.

“I had only been there four weeks when we got stuck in the snow on the Waldringfield run.

Driver Cyril Smith said 'We'll never get out of this we had better walk. He phoned the depot and they told him to drain the water from the van and leave it. We set off just after 3pm. It was almost 10pm when we reached the hill near Foxhall Stadium! I thought if this is work I'm going back to school! The van was dug out two days later. Nobody had taken a single item.”

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