Tarbymania and Rolf come to town

THE 1950s and '60s were the days when 'celebrity' meant more than it does today - and it came closer to Ipswich.And a new book from the Evening Star could help bring those memories flooding back.

By Tracey Sparling

THE Evening Star has produced a new book, which will bring back a host of memories for many Ipswich folk. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports.

THE 1950s and '60s were the days when 'celebrity' meant more than it does today - and it came closer to Ipswich.

Forget today's wannabe stars. Do you remember how big a crowd people like Jimmy Tarbuck attracted when he came to Ipswich Buttermarket in 1966? Policemen had to help steer the Liverpool comedian through hoards of people, to cut the tape to officially open a restaurant.

And then there was the day when none other than Rolf Harris joined Suffolk people for a match at the Ambassador Bowling Alley in London Road.

You can't help but wonder if Chantelle Houghton, Colleen McLoughlin and X-factor reject Chico would attract such crowds today. Ipswich shops can't afford the likes of Kylie Minogue or Robbie Williams to open their new branches today, but back in the 1950s and 60s, the fees must have been more manageable.

Most Read

Celebrity-studded occasions, and other moments from the rock and roll years are captured in a new book packed with pictures.

Evening Star columnist Dave Kindred - a former picture editor with the paper - has used hundreds of photographs to chart the decades of change for the county town - when many areas were demolished in the name of modernisation with new housing, office buildings and road networks.

Dave said: “It has been great fun looking through the picture files, as the time frame spans from when I started school through my teens and 20s. I was born in Ipswich in 1946 so I was a teenager when massive changes to the layout of the town around the St Matthews Street and Carr Street area began. It is interesting to look back on the changes to the town.

“I remember when Rolf Harris came he actually set that picture up for me. I was a young photographer aged 16 or 17, and Rolf placed the ball in the lane, told me where to stand, and gathered everyone round him. The ball wasn't even moving for the shot! He was a really nice guy, and he couldn't have been more helpful.”

Ipswich Town Football Club won the First Division Championship in 1962 and the Second Division title at the end of the 67/68 season so there are photographs of the celebrations. At Foxhall Stadium the Witches were attracting huge crowds to watch the action in the mid 1950s. Speedway fans can see photographs of legends 'Titch' Read, Sid Clarke and Bert Edwards.

Dave said: “I remember going to Foxhall Stadium as a school boy along with thousands of others to cheer on the Witches. I have included pictures of my heroes of that era, 'Titch' Read, Sid Clarke and Bert Edwards. Photographs of Ipswich Town Football Clubs First Division championship celebrations of 1962 are included.”

The photographs feature the much-loved trolley buses and steam locomotives, which went out of service in the early 60s.

Dave said: “Locals have fond memories of steam powered trains and trolley buses I am sure many memories will be prompted by these images.”

The local music scene was also developing at a fast pace. Ballroom dancing gave way to the arrival of rock and roll in the early 1960s, with hundreds of teenagers gathering in the town's halls to dance to records by the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Live rock and blues bands also attracted a big following and there are photographs of some of the bands including Nick and the Nomads and pictures of Bluesville at the St Matthews Baths Hall.

Dave said: “Live music was a big part of my life back then. 'Bluesville' saw many big names visit town. There was also a vibrant local band set up. Pictures of Nick and the Nomads, The Pete Croft Blues Band and the Nite Sect are included along with many other local bands.”

“I am sure the Baby Boomer” generation will particularly enjoy this look back, as will anybody with an interest in local history captured through the camera lens.”

The Evening Star has joined with At Heart Publications to create this book to treasure.

'Ipswich in the '50s and '60s' is available from the Evening Star's Ipswich, Felixstowe and Stowmarket offices for £14.99.

DAVE Kindred's previous book, Ipswich: The War Years, gives a dramatic picture of how Suffolk's county town survived the conflict.

Now his new publication, Ipswich in the '50s and '60s, looks at how the town was transformed in the post-war years - with nostalgic memories of many buildings which have been swept away.

Pictures of Crown Street and the Tower Ramparts area in the late 1950s are almost unrecognisable, because so many buildings were knocked down to make way for the bus station and Crown Pools.

Another historic building to be lost was the last windmill in Ipswich, which stood in Tower Mill Road. One of the photographs in Dave's collection captures the moment when the demolition got under way.

Many readers will also regret the loss of Piper's Vale Swimming Pool and St Matthew's Baths, the Savoy and Arlington ballrooms, old theatres and cinemas - and some old-style fish and chip shops.

Also gone are a number of old schools, such as the Landseer Secondary School for boys and Nacton Road School for girls. The book tells how the boys and girls only met up once a year, at their annual joint sports day.

However, the book, which includes detailed captions for each photo, isn't just an account of history which has been lost. A number of the buildings featured are still there - like the magnificent former Grimwades store, featured on the cover, which has now found a new lease of life as Clinton Cards.

Also featured are dramatic events such as fires and floods.

Looking through the many dozens of photos in the 126 pages, you realise just how much the town has changed. This is perhaps most powerfully shown in the aerial views which are included.

An added bonus for many people from the area will be spotting themselves - or their friends and relations - in younger years, with gloriously out-of-fashion hairstyles.

This is a book which crams in a host of memories, with almost every picture serving as a talking-point. It would be the perfect Christmas present for anyone who remembers old Ipswich, or wants to find out more about the town as it used to be.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter