When Zsa Zsa met the cycle speedsters

WITH the speedway season now just a few days away already fans are dusting off their programme boards and getting ready for another season.

David Kindred

WITH the speedway season now just a few days away already fans are dusting off their programme boards and getting ready for another season.

Motorcycle racing has always inspired many to have a go at the sport with pedal power. Dave Hunting, who has been active in cycle speedway for many decades locally, has sent me some photographs of the sport in the past.

There was a time in the heyday of the sport when just about every village and town in this area had a team. The sport is still very active and teams are no doubt getting ready for the tapes to go up on the 2009 season.

Dave Hunting said of this group of cycle speedway enthusiasts from the mid 1950s: “This photo was taken at the Suffolk Cycle Speedway Association presentation evening at the Labour Club in Victoria Street, Ipswich. This was an annual end of season event in 1955.

“The lady in the middle, who made all the presentations, was Zsa Zsa Brandon-Cox, a well known film actress of the time. Standing on her right, with two trophies in his hands, was the current British Senior Individual Champion Ron Bagley, who went on to ride for the Ipswich Witches as team captain as well as managing the team for several seasons.

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“Ron, who then rode for the Ipswich Vampires, won the British Individual title at Fleet. The large trophy in the foreground is the British Individual Trophy. I am on the right, next to me at the back is Alan Ford. Sitting to the right of the Cup is Ken Rackham, who is now in the car repair business.

“In front of the door on the far left is Derek Lockwood holding a trophy. Standing at the back in the middle of the pillar is Ray Earrey, older brother of the late John Earrey who was 'The voice of Foxhall Stadium' for many seasons. “Other riders in the photo include Tony Lee, Ronnie Latter, John Gorham, Tim Robinson and Keith Rickman'. Do you know anybody featured in this photograph?”

A READER has sent me a request by e-mail for help to trace the history of a painting which hung in Cranfield's Mill close to Stoke Bridge at Ipswich Dock.

Richard Wadwell, who grew up in Ipswich from 1946-60 and now lives in Berkshire, said: “This water colour painting of Cranfield's Mill was painted by a Mrs L A Roome in 1937. This painting hung in my father's office at the Mill for many years, and I would be very grateful to hear if any of your readers might be able to provide some information on the artist. Was she connected to the Mill in some way, or was this just a subject that took her interest?

“My father was very proud of the Mill, its employees, and the contribution that it made to the local economy. He would have been mortified to have seen it in its abandoned state, but I know he would have approved of the transformation of the whole area under the re-development scheme. He was a keen sailor and very much enjoyed being on the Cranfield barges. I sailed with him once from the Thames to Ipswich Dock on the 'Danebrog', and raced with him in the Orwell Barge Races on 'Gladys' and 'Edith May'.

“My father, George Wadwell, started work at the Mill as company secretary in 1949, later becoming finance director, managing director, and finally chairman, before retiring in 1974. He died in 2002. In the late 1950s my father negotiated the finance to re-equip the Mill with modern milling machinery and stainless steel chutes for the wheat, to replace the worn-out plant that had been the mainstay of the business for many years.

“In that process, he was able to retrieve a few pieces of the old solid, grooved, mahogany wood that was used for the wheat chutes and he asked Sydney Bird, the company's carpenter, if he could build him a desk from what remained of this slice of history. I now have that desk, a magnificent example of great craftsmanship. I would be delighted to hear from any former Cranfield's employees who might have a story or anecdote relating to the mill, and especially of any connection with my father or with Sydney Bird.”

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I RECENTLY featured some of the large, fine old houses which have been lost to Ipswich in the past century.

Elizabeth Montgomery, of Gosport, Hampshire, who grew up in Ipswich, has memories of one fine house which is still with us today.

Elizabeth said: “I follow your features in the Evening Star, and the one about the mansions interested me. I have memories of Mockbeggars Hall, Claydon, which now has its entrance off Papermill Lane. It was originally approached from a very long drive with white fencing from the main Ipswich to Norwich road, just before Claydon.

“My mother worked for Lady Ridley, who lived there in the 1940s through to the 60s. As a child I used to go with my mother to work, and we used to play with Lady Ridley's grandchildren. They would come to Mockbeggars from London for the holidays. Lady Ridley was a Russian countess, whose father, Count Beckendorf, was Russian Ambassador to Great Britain, during the Russian Revolution. He tried to get the royal family out of Russia. We were treated like Lady Ridley's own grandchildren, to some old Russian traditions. She was very good to us.

“Lady Ridley and Sir Jasper Ridley are buried in Claydon Churchyard, just by the church door along with their youngest son Patrick, who was killed on Mount Snowdon when he was 21 and at university.

“I thought you might be interested in my picture taken in the early 1950s, on the land at the back of what was called 'the bungalows' in Bramford Lane. These looked like Nissan huts, as you can see in the background, and were the homes for some of these children, I was fortunate to live in one of the new council houses built in 1948, after the Second World War ended.

“I spent time with this happy band who lived in these houses, I think you would call us a gang nowadays, but then we were just a crowd that played together. I am third from left in the black coat, the families were the Sycamores, the Langfords, and the Scarletts. I wonder if any recognise themselves?

Do you have anything to add to Elizabeth's memories?