Sharing memories of sand pits

OPEN fields, sand pits, ponds full of tadpoles and good places to build a den, are boyhood memories from the Dales area of Ipswich - before it was built on with housing and industrial units.

OPEN fields, sand pits, ponds full of tadpoles and good places to build a den, are boyhood memories from the Dales area of Ipswich - before it was built on with housing and industrial units.

The brickworks, which were there until 1959, were featured in Kindred Spirits recently, when I asked readers for memories of the works and this real adventure playground.

Edward (Ted) Moore, of Defoe Road, Ipswich, recalls his childhood days at The Dales Brickworks.

Ted said: “My parents and I moved into a bungalow in Dales Road on Easter Saturday, 1932. It was the second bungalow on the right hand side of the lane going up under the crooked arch to Whitton. Our bungalow was called 'Rosemary', as it was to be several years before properties were built on the land between the lane and Norwich Road, in order for us to be given numbers. We then became 'number 23.'

“For many years the road was not “made up”. We had a huge horseradish plant near our front gate and in wet weather I had numerous puddles to play in. We had a shoe scraper by the door to get rid of the mud and I often had wet feet. Also for many years in our part of the road we had no street lighting.”

“Near to where Silverdale Road is now, there was an abandoned sand pit in which my friends and I used to play and beyond it was a pond where we caught tadpoles and newts. Opposite, about where the entrance to Knightsdale Road is now, there was a huge heap of sand. The sand was dug out, loaded onto a bucket shaped tip-up truck, which a workman drove down to Dales Road, where he discharged its load onto the sand heap. My friends and I often “scrounged” lifts on the trucks in return for helping the workman in charge of the truck, push it back up to the sand quarry. The truck had a very primitive block brake and we just clung to the sides of the truck, standing on a narrow ledge. What would the present Health and Safety, politically correct and child protection brigades make of this pastime?

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Lorries came from time to time to the heap, loaded up and departed to the various building sites around Ipswich “Nearby was the rail track, going back to the cutting where the main east coast railway line ran. We played cowboys and Indians and also built “dens” in the wooded area lying between the back of the brick kilns and the steep slope going up to where Dales View Road is. This was wonderful territory for tree climbing and many other adventurous games.”

“We were frequently chased off by the brickyard manager, who I think was Mr Chittleborough. He lived in Kitchener Road and we often ran off with his threats of telling our parents, school or the police about our trespassing, ringing in our ears.

We could also walk around the brick making huts where the workmen made the bricks by pounding the wet clay and putting it into moulds and transferring the moulded brick onto trays to be transported by barrows, to the opposite side of the road where the kilns were. This part of the brickworks was roughly between where Knightsdale and Wharfedale Roads are now.

“If you ventured along Dales Road after dark when the bricks were being fired, a red glow could be seen at the top of the kilns. Also if there was an easterly wind we got a sulphur smell where we lived, from the kilns. I used to take our dog Floss for her walks up the Dales and through the brickyard. She loved to run around the area behind the brick kilns, chasing rabbits.

“Mr Boulton, the owner of the brickyard, lived at number two Dales Road, on the corner of Dales Road and Norwich Road. He lived there with his spinster sister into the late 1950s.

“Once the various building projects had expanded both in Dales Road, Mornington Avenue and Westholme Road, Dales Road was finally surfaced and paths put down, and street lighting installed. This was about three years or so before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

“Your article has revived many memories of my school days, living “In the Dales” and of the activities of the brickyard.”

I am nervous of trains.

Not riding on them but writing about them! Whenever the subject is referred to in Kindred Spirits I get experts debating the historical facts.

David Barton of Sunningdale Avenue, Ipswich, sent me interesting information about the line, which served the Dales Brick works, Ipswich, from the main East Suffolk line. The line ran from near Westerfield Station through where The Grove, Henley Road is, under Henley Road and Dale Hall Lane, to the brick works where Dales Road is now. The information said it was a narrow gauge track, but a reader from Beccles thinks the line was standard size. I did not get beyond my I-Spy book of trains, but I know it is a subject which raises a passion for facts like no other-except buses!

John Brodribb of Kemp's Lane, Beccles, tells us more of the history of the line: “I'm interested in the assertion that this was a narrow gauge line. This isn't at all obvious from the 1904 edition of the Ordnance Survey maps of the area, which shows the branch joining directly to the East Suffolk line at Westerfield station.

“It terminated near the level crossing at the station. There is no hint of it being an exchange siding, where goods would have to be trans-shipped between narrow and standard gauge.

“The brickworks branch ran alongside the East Suffolk until the two diverged to the east of Henley Road. The opening in the bank where the branch emerged into the yard at Westerfield can clearly be seen today. There is no trace of the branch on the 1924 edition of the OS map.

“The only other information I can offer is in my book, An Illustrated History of the East Suffolk Railway, published in 2003. 'At Westerfield Station a siding about 650 ft long trailed from the up main line. This was built in 1888 together with a branch leading from it into the brick and tile works of Bolton and Laughlin. It curved away from the main line for a distance of about one and a quarter miles, to their works in Dales Lane (later Road), and also had a siding into Grove Farm and another adjacent brick and tile works. This line was closed and lifted in the 1920s, but the brick and tile merchants Cubitt and Gotts continued to use the siding at Westerfield for many years for deliveries from the London Brick Company at Peterborough.'

I will include more reader's memories of the Dales area of Ipswich next week