Waterfront holds wonderful memories

AN area of Ipswich covering less than a square mile has provided rich memories of life close to the town centre in often dramatic decades.

David Kindred

AN area of Ipswich covering less than a square mile has provided rich memories of life close to the town centre in often dramatic decades.

The dock area, now called The Waterfront and the nearby area, has been featured in Kindred Spirits several times and memories still come from readers from all over the country.

A photograph from Malcolm Smith, of Kesgrave, taken by his father John of the barge Gladys, in the dock in the 1950s with its skipper, who was known to everybody as “Titch”.

Regular contributor Rod Cross, who now lives near Southampton, said “Although I never met Titch, his name was still familiar to me.

“He was my grandmother's nephew and when I went to visit her in the 1950s she would often come out with the classic, if somewhat erroneous statement, “Titch's ship is in!”

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“This was a reference to his black-painted barge Gladys which, along with the Ena, was one of those I would help load with barley malt from R&W Paul's Albion Mill.

“This would then chug down the coast en-route to London and eventually to one of the breweries there.

“Titch's real name was Sidney Horace Waters. He was born shortly after the end of World War One in Turner Road on the Gainsborough estate where his parents George and Flo lived for many years.

“The name Titch, of course, was an ironic reference to his considerable height and ample girth. Titch died, I believe, in 1989.

“Sylvia Danby who now lives in Norden near Rochdale recalls her early years living in Ipswich close to the dock where there were few other children. Sylvia said: “Although I was aged six when we moved from Key Street I have such vivid memories of the area, possibly due to a lonely childhood with no other children around to play with.

“My uncle Charles Beckett had a tobacconist shop in the Rope Walk area. His wife was mentally unbalanced and continually put the stock including tobacco on the fire and he was bankrupted.

“Charles then worked for Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies and I remember in the 1930s all the hundreds of workers on their cycles coming out of the factory around the Duke Street area. In 1926 my dad lost his job with R and W Paul's and went digging up tram lines before being employed by Tollemache Brewery in Tacket Street. He worked for them from the age of 42 and retired at 72.”

The dock area was a prime target for German bombers during the Second World War and nearby residents suffered as bombs were dropped on the town. Residents of Myrtle Road, just a few hundred yards from the dock, suffered dreadfully in the raid of June 1942.

Dennis Green, of Bideford, Devon, said: “We lived in Parliament Road, and I was woken early on June 2, 1943 by the bomb blasts. If my memory serves me right the Myrtle Road bomb was dropped by an aircraft flying very low so that it first struck the ground in Felixstowe Road, near Alston Road. The tail fin came off and struck the corner of an off-license shop, and the bomb then bounced over Holywells Park and came down in Myrtle Road. Our family building firm, Chas A Green & Sons Ltd, carried out a lot of the bomb damage repairs. Most of the houses in Myrtle Road were affected, and my job was to allocate the labour and materials to each house as they all had to be kept separate for the bomb damage claims.”

Mrs B Dean contacted me by e-mail and said: “During the Second World War a bomb fell on the vicarage at the top of Bishops Hill killing a lady from Canada who was staying. I am not sure of the date, but I think it was around 1941.

“I was born in 1937 and we lived at 1 Sandhurst Avenue, the vicarage was at the bottom of the garden and when the bomb went off the back of our house was very badly damaged, we were not able to live in it until after the war. A couple of weeks prior to the bomb going off my mother and father moved their bed downstairs into the back room. There was not room for a bed for myself and I had to sleep in my cot.

“We all managed to get out of the house with few injuries. Mum and Dad dived under the bedclothes so when the ceiling came down they were not hurt.

The door to the back room was blown off its hinges and landed over my cot and caught the ceiling as it came down and I walked away without injury.

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