When street had traditional mix of shops

THE part of Norwich Road close to the town centre has always been a thriving shopping area of Ipswich.The once traditional mix of butchers, bakers, and grocers etc.

David Kindred

THE part of Norwich Road close to the town centre has always been a thriving shopping area of Ipswich.

The once traditional mix of butchers, bakers, and grocers etc. has partly been replaced by shops selling produce from around the world.

The shops and pubs of the past in that area have been featured recently on the pages of Kindred Spirits.

Merche Gardiner (nee Chessum), of Springfield Lane, Ipswich, who grew up in Wilberforce Street, said: “My father was one of the regulars at the Rose and Crown public house and he also 'stabled' his car in the stall next to Kitty the pony, which was owned by Mr Elvin who did a grocery round in the area.

“Mr and Mrs Clegg were the publicans at that time. Heather and Bob Robertson kept the flower shop at the top of Bramford Road hill. Their shop was next to a printer. My mum used to send me to Frost's the butcher's to get 4/6d worth of shin for a stew. Where Revett's the motorcycle dealer stood, near the junction with Bramford Road, there used to be houses with long gardens. These were pulled down and replaced with the Revett's shop where I worked when I was 17.

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“In recent years this building has been converted to flats and smaller shop units. Opposite the Bramford Road junction was Jacobi's cycle shop, which was run by a father and son. Waklings radio shop was nearby and my father would take the accumulator there to be charged up for our radio. Wyncoll's furniture shop was near to W Rush West End fish, game and poultry mart. A second-hand shop was run by Mrs Brown. Mr and Mrs Green owned a grocery shop next to this.

“Mr and Mrs Knights kept the wool shop next to the Hare and Hounds, with every colour and make of wool you could think of, stacked up to the ceiling. Across the road was Hollingsworth the butchers and Mayes newsagents between that and Nightingales who sold cycles and toys.”

Frank Symonds, of Derwent Road, Ipswich, also has memories of the parade of shops. Frank said: “Kindred Spirits brought back memories of my schooldays pre-war. I had my hair cut at Mr Pizzy's hairdressing shop. He was the only hairdresser in Ipswich to have an electric operated rotary hair brush which stimulated the scalp, whilst he was using this on my hair. It blew a fuse and it singed my hair so he didn't charge for the haircut, which meant I had four pence to spend on sweets!”

“Brewers Store in St Matthew's Street was of interest to us lads, as one of the staff was given the task to make a 2ft pyramid of walnuts on a table just outside the door, and our 'mission' was to take the top one off without disturbing the rest, sometimes we were unlucky and quite a few would fall to the ground, and a staff member had to replace them, shaking his fist at our retreating figures.”

Des Drew, of Lewis Lane, Stutton, recalled recently how as a lad in the 1930s he worked for Sainsbury's store when it was in Tavern Street, Ipswich. At the end of every day's trading he had to go on to his hands and knees and scrub the tiled floor before sprinkling it with fresh sawdust. Eric Ward, of St John's Road, Ipswich, said: “I joined J Sainsbury's in 1946 and could relate to all his comments, as I did practically the same things, although I worked mainly in London branches.

“I enrolled at the Ipswich branch in Westgate Street, although I did my training at Blackfriars and then subsequently in London branches. All the shops were identical and I know what Des Drew meant when he talked about having to scrub the marble mosaic floor on his hands and knees. The shops were all very long and narrow, but seemed pretty wide when you had to scrub the floors!

“I worked six days for two pounds fifty shillings a week. Out of this I paid one pound fifty shillings for board and lodgings so I had £1 per week pocket money. I spent five shillings on fares and five shillings on laundry so I had the grand total of ten shillings (50 pence) to spend. In spite of that I seem to remember I was very happy and enjoyed my time with Sainsbury's.”

High-quality products and low prices made Sainsbury's popular

Sainsbury's was founded in 1869 by John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury. They opened their first small dairy shop at 173 Drury Lane, London.

Drury Lane was one of London's poorest areas and the Sainsbury's shop became popular for offering high-quality products at low prices.

By the 1920s a typical new Sainsbury's branch had six departments, offering a much larger product range than its competitors.

Each shop offered home delivery throughout the surrounding district, an important service in the days before most people had cars.

Sainsbury's Ipswich stores were at 51 Westgate Street - between Black Horse Lane and Museum Street - and at 48 Tavern Street between Upper Brook Street and St Lawrence Street.