Vegas ex-pat remembers Tower Ramparts

STEAM locomotives and school days are two subjects which prompt many nostalgic memories. For some readers the two go together. Recently in Kindred Sprits former Tower Ramparts School, Ipswich teacher, Roy Lee, recalled taking a party of pupils from Ipswich to Switzerland by steam locomotive pulled trains all the way from Ipswich station in July 1957.

STEAM locomotives and school days are two subjects which prompt many nostalgic memories.

For some readers the two go together. Recently in Kindred Sprits former Tower Ramparts School, Ipswich teacher, Roy Lee, recalled taking a party of pupils from Ipswich to Switzerland by steam locomotive pulled trains all the way from Ipswich station in July 1957.

Barry Anderson who now lives in Las Vegas told us in a follow up, of trips for his class around East Anglia in 1959. The trips were of great value to pupils who had little chance to travel in a time when few families had a car and many children did not venture further than a walk or cycle ride from home.

Ipswich man Graham Hardinge now tells me of his love and hate memories of Tower Ramparts Secondary Modern School. He hated the school but loved the days out by train.


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Graham said: “The Tower Ramparts School outings around East Anglia were arranged by Mr Victor Finbow. He was a quiet, very pleasant man and one of the few teachers that I had any respect for at that appalling place, which I called HMP Tower Ramparts.

“Some of the teachers were just cane-wielding bullies. One in particular, a former Royal Navy lieutenant-commander, who obviously thought he was still in the forces. I still detest him half-a-century later, such was his reign of terror.

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“I do not usually like seeing Victorian buildings being demolished to make way for concrete and glass, but my bad memories meant that I could willingly have danced on the rubble when the school was knocked down for the shopping centre there today. The only redeeming features were that the inmates could see the trolleybuses and buy penny 'stales' from the nearby Newstead's bakers shop! We weren't so fussy about sell-by dates then.

“I took part in the East Anglian days out in 1958. Being a railway enthusiast even then I kept notes of where we went and of the locomotives. According to my diary we went to the following in the summer of 1958: Monday, Lowestoft fish market and Co-op cannery, Tuesday Norwich Castle and 'Carrow Works'. Presumably, this was Colman's mustard factory, although I have a recollection of visiting a chocolate making plant. Wednesday, Great Yarmouth. Smith's crisp factory. Thursday, Norwich Cathedral and Wroxham Broad. Friday, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Lowestoft and Oulton Broad.

“To enable us to do this quite cheaply we were each issued with a Child's Holiday Runabout Ticket, which cost eleven shillings and three pence (56p!). Inflation means this equates to £9.34 today, still a very reasonable sum. This gave us unlimited travel over the area covered for seven days. On the reverse side of the ticket was a map showing the lines over which we could use it. These were the main lines from Ipswich to Norwich, Ipswich to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, Norwich to Great Yarmouth, Norwich to Lowestoft, Felixstowe Town and Beach stations and Aldeburgh branches. Many of these lines have long since been closed.”

He added: “I agree with Barry's comments that this opened our eyes to the world outside Ipswich. Few, if any, of our fathers had cars then. Although I had previously ventured off by myself by train on spotting trips to Cambridge and Peterborough. The former at the tender age of just 11 years.”

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Do you have any memories to share? Write to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

Captions.

Graham Hardinge visited the fish market at Lowestoft in 1958. This photograph was taken at the market in November 1951.

A steam locomotive pulling a train over a River Gipping bridge near the sugar beet factory. The train has just left East Suffolk junction and is heading towards Stowmarket. In the distance is the bridge carrying the East Suffolk line over the River Gipping.

Graham Hardinge remembers when trolley buses were a familiar sight outside Tower Ramparts School. These buses were arriving in the snow of late February 1958. This photograph was taken from close to the front of the school.

The photograph of steam locomotives working in Ipswich featured recently fired childhood memories for John Harrold of Risby Close, Ipswich. John said, “I have memories of holding my dad's hand as I spent many hours watching the trains.

I used to call the tram and side tank engines 'Puffing Billy's'. I was fascinated by the sight and smell of steam oil and their designs. I loved to stand on Princes Street Bridge, even on a wet and cold day, and watch the workings in the Lower Yard. The photograph published in Kindred Spirits of the yard had it all, countless lines and wagons with a loco' chugging away with the familiar dock buildings in the background. My grandmother Mrs Edith Tye, lived at 60 Ranelagh Road, right opposite the station. From her upstairs window I had a direct view of the activity at the station.”

“We had frequent trips to the seaside from Ipswich Station. My favourite journey was Lowestoft to Yarmouth via Hopton and Gorleston. Felixstowe was another favourite.”

At night the sight of glowing fireboxes on the locomotives was pure magic. A driver told me of an amusing incident once. He had cooked bacon and eggs on the fireman's shovel and threw a few over cooked pieces away at Manningtree Station, hitting a man waiting at the end of the platform!”

Elephants belonging to a visiting circus leaving Ipswich Station in the 1950s after arriving in town by train. The animals were paraded through town to promote the visit. Circuses used a site at the junction of London Road and Ranelagh Road or Christchurch Park during their stay. The houses on the right in Ranelagh Road, where John Harold's grandmother lived, have all been demolished. Does this scene bring any memories for you? Write to Kindred Spirits.

Cattle being unloaded from rail wagons near the bridge at Princes Street, Ipswich, in the 1950s. Weekly cattle markets were held in Ipswich on sites around Princes Street. Animals were herded along Princes Street to pens at sidings near the bridge.

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