When you could buy a bar of chocolate and still have change from a shilling
With the help of a reader, Lynne takes a virtual shopping tour of mid 20th century Ipswich
It’s good to know I am not the only one who remembers the old shops of Ipswich. Sparked by a piece I wrote about Rawlings the optician, in Northgate Street Christine Watkins, of Bury St Edmunds, has been in touch with a list of stores she recalls from the comparatively recent days of the mid-20th century. At least, it seems recent to me.
Here is her list:
Footmans, Westgate Street: A lovely department store in those days. The bungalow at the top in the furniture department. Restaurants. Wonderful baby wear and pram department.
Edwards, Tavern Street: Gents’ outfitters with a first floor gallery. There was a shopwalker to greet you on entering – always wore a wing collar.
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Masons, Tavern Street: Ladies’ wear. Luxurious and expensive
Corders, Tavern Street and Buttermarket: Small department store. You could walk through from Buttermarket to Tavern Street. I believe, way back, they ran a hostel for the shop girls in Norwich Road.
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Gardiners: Another ladies’ wear shop
Smiths Albion House, Hyde Park Corner: Clothes and textiles. I seem to remember a stuffed toy monkey on a pole in there... what was that all about?
The Oriental, Westgate Street: Bakery and restaurant. People had their wedding receptions in there as well.
Limmers, Buttermarket. High class grocers. One restaurant up a narrow staircase and a much bigger one at the back up a broad flight of stairs. I particularly remember the smell of coffee and the loud voices of the businessmen who would pop in there for coffee in the mornings.
The Gas Showroom, Carr Street: Gas lights early on a smell of gas!
Mrs Watkins also mentions Frasers the furniture shop, Boots with its lending library and Cowells and brings back a flood of memories.
Footmans had a hot peanut dispenser in its food hall and the bacon counter sold off-cuts. There were glossy rattan chairs in the cafe restaurant wherein I experienced my first mushroom omelette.
Over at Edwards, I was measured for my Northgate School Uniform (bought with ample room for growth).
In fact, I was in Leiston, last Friday, and met a gentleman who recalled a barrage balloon was sited on the Northgate girls’ school field during the last war. He said that there were no showers after games during the war and so he would have to go home encrusted with mud after rugby.
I never went into Masons but Corders’ downstairs coffee shop was a favourite haunt for my schoolfriends and me who imagined ourselves terribly sophisticated.
There was, I believe, also a Lyons café somewhere along Tavern Street.