Roar of the presses heard day and night

NEWSPAPERS printing in the heart of the Ipswich town centre was recalled by readers of Kindred Sprits recently.

David Kindred

NEWSPAPERS printing in the heart of the Ipswich town centre was recalled by readers of Kindred Sprits recently.

The roar of the rotary printing press of the East Anglian Daily Times company was a regular sound day and night until the company moved to Lower Brook Street in May 1966.

Diane Roper (nee Last) said “Your photo of the old East Anglian building took me back many years. Until the age of 11 I lived with my family at 22 Great Colman Street.

This stood directly behind the East Anglian building on the corner of Little Colman Street and belonged to the EADT. There was an alley between the buildings which was always called "The Drift". This took you out onto Carr Street almost directly opposite Woolworths.

“The house was a great big place, which we believe had been a gentleman's club at one time. We lived in half of it and the East Anglian used the other half to store reels of paper.

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“I had lots of fun playing hide and seek amongst the paper when my friends came to play. There was also a great big cellar which we liked to disappear into.

“We managed to rent it because my father Charlie Last worked at the EADT in the general printing department from the time he left school until he retired in 1977, apart from six years when he was called up for the war. My mother used to make the workers their tea for their breaks and they used to come and drink it in our back garden.

“I spent many an hour at the side door of the building watching the metal plates being made ready for the next edition of the paper. “It was noisy, dusty and hot, but also fascinated me. Any visitors who came to sleep would be awake all night with the sound of the press, but we slept like logs. I suppose we got used to it.”

“Things used to get a bit noisy sometimes if the workers had been to their social club in Little Colman Street after work! I think it was classed as the canteen and seemed to me to be open all day, but all in all it was a nice place to live.”

“I followed in my father's footsteps and worked in the bindery of the new general printing premises, which was then called the Suffolk Press, and was behind the new EADT buildings in Lower Brook Street.

“I was there from the time I left school until I had my first child. Unfortunately this part of the business was closed down soon after that and my dad transferred to the composing room at the new building and worked there until he retired.

“I think he enjoyed his time at the EADT and I never heard him complain about work once. My only regret is that I don't have a picture of the house and I wonder if you or any of your readers might have one. If so I would love to have a copy.”

Mr R Shemming, of Portman Road, Ipswich, added: “I was particularly interested in the photograph taken in 1950 of the East Anglian Daily Times premises in Carr Street with dear old Ray Theobald in the foreground selling the Evening Star and the EADT, which he did for many years.

“Ray and I were regular customers at the Racecourse Public House in Nacton Road which was recently demolished, where his father George was a bookies runner in the 1950/60s, taking bets from the customers, long before the current high street betting shops were established.”

- The EADT staff social club in Little Colman Street was something of an institution until it was demolished after the company moved in 1966. It occupied two tiny terraced houses.

The two original front rooms had a table and chairs with enough room for around ten people each. Mid mornings it was cheese rolls and mugs of tea.

During the evening it operated like a tiny public house closing at 10.30pm. Half an hour later steward George Weavers opened the bar again until around 2am with a permanent special licence. This made the club a popular late 'watering hole' as any staff member could sign in two guests to the only bar open in the county.

Proprietor and editor Ralph Wilson would be there most nights into the small hours as the morning paper was being produced where the world and company matters were put right over a pint of beer or a glass of Scotch!

Mr Wilson knew all his staff personally and would never have referred to anybody as a “human resource”.