Ipswich in old picture postcards

Ipswich in old picture postcards

:   Paul Fincham
:   Suffolk
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3406-4
:   144
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Ipswich in old picture postcards'

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The Victorians and Edwardians were enthusiastic collectors. James Pope-Hennessy's biography of Queen Mary, George V's consort, recounts how the younger members of the royal family ... loved to accumulate small objects - bronze, stone or china animals, shells, minute vases, little watercolours of gardens, or of Windsor Castie in the mist, a myriad velvet-covered photograph frames containing tiny pictures of each other, their horses and their dogs. For their less wellendowed contemporaries, picture postcards provided an acceptable substitute. With postage costing lhd (doubled after 1916, but still only 1d), and the cards themselves not very much more, even the modest wages earned by shop assistants, or by girls living away from home 'in service' , allowed them to keep in touch with friends, or to let the family back home know how they were liking their new places.

Perhaps because of the nature of the correspondents, and the standards of education at the time, messages written on a collection of cards Iike this are often disappointingly meagre, or even facetious. One imagines a good deal of head-scratching and pencil-licking, to produce even sentiments of the 'T-hope-this-findsyon-in-the-pink -as-it -leaves-me-at -present' kind. Some of the cards propose or confirm arrangements to meet. Others give travel details. A few are tantalising:

No. 129, for example, is one of several written, in a good hand, using a highly elaborate code, obviously

carefully worked out and agreed upon by the correspondents, a man and a girl.

For us, a century later, the principal excitements are the pictures themselves, conjuring up as they usually do memories of vanished, or radically changed streets and buildings. Memory, on the whole, is short, and when something disappears, it is very quickly forgotten. Ipswich has seen much change since the end ofthe Second World War. Clearance of the congested Rope Walk district, which had been a prosperous suburb but became a slum, produced anempty space in the 1930's. Since the War, the whole area has been filled by the Suffolk College and various local-government buildings. More recently, 'rationalising' the trafficflow around the Doek area has meant large-scale replanning of whole streets, so that the lower parts of Fore Street and Quay Street have lost much of their residential and pedestrian character and convenience. When it was agreed to expand Ipswich in the late 1950's, more wholesale demolition and reconstruction was carried out at the other end of the town: Princes Street, and St. Nicholas and St. Matthew's Streets. That expansion never took place, and the areas which had prepared for it carried for years an unhappy and unfinished look. In the 1970's, the coming of the exciting Willis Faber office-building, and others nearby, corrected the town's balance and redressed some of the mistakes made through anticipation.

In the town centre, the line of Carr Street, Tavern Street and Westgate Street, the town's most ancient thoroughfare, has had its pedestrian functions strengthened and enhanced: after a century, it remains little changed except in the appearance of individual buildings. Some of the old-established shops, like Footmans and Corders, have either changed their shape totally, or have given way to smaller, more ephemeral, boutiques, which seem to change hands (and looks) with an unfortunate frequency. It is reassuring to find some changes for the better. Ipswich learnt the worth of its solid Victorian buildings just in time, and kept its Town Hall and Corn Exchange. The Ipswich Society works tirelessly to encourage the preservation of what is valuable, and to save what is threatened. In the 1980's, paving over part of the Cornhill and partially excluding traffic from the town centre and - most important - from Lloyds Avenue and its arch on to the Cornhill has given the town a more human and more agreeable atmosphere, and one can look at these old pictures with nostalgia, but without too much regret for past times. Interpreting the street scenes, and the civic occasions, has been made easier by reference to the local newspapers. Both the Ipswick Journal and the East Anglian Daily Times are stored on microfilm among the splendid and readily accessible resources of the Suffolk Record Office, in County Hall at Ipswich.

I have to acknowledge, as on other occasions, the great help and kindness of the Wilton family. The late Mr. Harry Wilton was a knowledgeable collector of Ipswich material. Others besides me must miss being able to talk with him, checking the conclusions they have arrived at, and having their rnistakes gently corrected. His widow, Mrs. Gladys Wilton, and his nephew, John Wilton, reacted with characteristic generosity when I tentatively suggested that they might allow me to use his postcard collection. The greater part of the pictures used here come from his albums, where many of the cards have Harry's invaluable notes pencilled in their margins.

Hugh Moffat has been equally kind in letting me use material collected by his father , who succeeded William Bantaft as Town Clerk of Ipswich. His reminiscences, passed on to his son, and now retailed to me, feature in the captions to some of these pictures. Geoff Cordy, of Felixstowe, has once again, and with unfeigned pleasure, taken on the task of copying, and indeed improving, the original postcards, to ensure the best possible reproduetion in the finished baak. Norman Scarfe, as always, has given constant advice and help, demonstrating the most profitable lines of enquiry to pursue, and tempering my overenthusiasm!

1. The present Town Hall (1868) and on the left the Post Office (1881), with Grimwade's new premises of 1904, dominate the Cornhill in this Edwardian photograph. The electric trams, recently introduced in 1903, have not yet totally replaced the old horse-drawn cabs. These new buildings replaced a group which had proved quite inadequate for the prosperous and expanding town of Ipswich.

2. The earlier Town Hall, an ancient building, had been re-fronted and extended in 1818 to look like this, but it was still unsatisfactory for the administration of the busy town. Together with the adjoining premises of the Com Exchange Tavem, and R.S. Cole's jeweller's shop, it was demolished in 1865 and the new one built on the larger site.

3. This old Corn Exchange, much rebuilt, was replaced in 1881 by the Post Office. It was of ten used for concerts and public meetings, in spite of its poor acoustic. When the present Corn Exchange was built bebind the Town Hall, this prominent site became available for the Post Office. The figure of Ceres from the pediment is still in the museum's collection.

4. The flamboyant red-briek and stone Lloyds Bank was built, facing the Town Hall, in 1890, four years before this photograph was taken. To the left, the National Provincial Bank building is now part of Debenham's store. The spire of the town's 'civic' ehureh is sereened by Tavern Street shops. In 1895, the eabmen's shelter was removed, although it had only been put there two years before. The men lurked inside in bad weather, ignoring eustomers. It is now in Christehureh Park.

5. The Comhill about 1910. Electric trams had been running since 1903, but traffic was still largely horse-drawn, and the drinking-trough at the street-lamp's base was much in demand: it was only removed in 1928. Palmer's premises, just left of centre, are still there. Most other Tavem Street fa├žades have changed or disappeared, including the distinctive Picture House cinema, opened that year, 1910.

6. Two public houses - The Sickle and The King's Head - and several small shops and offices were sold (in Lots) and demolished in 1879 to make room for the new Corn Exchange. Building operations were difficult: the site had many old wells which needed filling with concrete. When the building was finished, the old name of King Street became Princes Street.

7. The handsome new Com Exchange (now a civic Entertainments Centre) was opened on 26th July 1882, when the Mayor, Frederick Fish, gave a dinner for 600 people. This lasted five hours and was followed by a firework display. The Com Exchange and Town Hall now made an impressive entrance to the heart of the town for people arriving from the railway station, along Princes Street.

8. This 1888 view of the north side of the Cornhill shows the two shops which made way for the big new Lloyds Bank building in 1890. On the right, Bales, the gunsmith (with a target on its roof) is still there, but no longer a shop. At the extreme left, where figures stand round a streetlamp, is the entrance to Mumford's Passage, from the Cornhill up to Tower Ramparts.

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