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Newsletter, April 2011 (Issue 183)

Saving the Walk


Bob Markham, a well known member of the Society who has carried out extensive research into the history of public transport in Ipswich, was the speaker in our lecture on 12 January. The subject for Bob's presentation was the development of new residential areas in Ipswich mainly from 1879 until the present day, and the introduction of public transport to serve the residents of these new areas.

Until the fourth quarter of the 19th century the main residential areas were within a one mile radius of the Cornhill, although new developments were taking place in California, the area between Spring and Foxhall Roads. Residents made their journeys to work and leisure on foot, with the exception of the small minority with their own horse drawn forms of transport.

The first public transport was introduced in 1880 in the form of horse trams, with routes from the Cornhill along Norwich Road to Brooks Hall Road; to Derby Road station via Spring Road and St John's Road; and to Ipswich railway station.

In 1903 Ipswich Corporation opened a new electricity power station in Constantine Road which enabled an electric tram system to be introduced. The routes formerly operated by the horse trams were extended to Whitton, Bourne Bridge, Felixstowe Road (Royal Oak). Spring Road (Lattice Barn) and Bramford Road (Railway Bridge). In 1919 the Eastern Counties Road Car Company introduced a network of motor bus routes to the surrounding rural areas and also within the town to areas not covered by the trams, including Woodbridge Road and Hadleigh Road, where the first council houses were built in Allenby Road in the early 19205.

In the mid 1920s a very large development of local authority housing took place in the east between the Felixstowe and Nacton Roads. This was soon followed by a large development in the nearby Gainsborough area. In 1926 the electric trams were replaced by trolley buses, which enabled a network of routes to be introduced to serve these new residential areas in the east of the town and also to serve Foxhall and London Road areas, and Bramford Road beyond the railway bridge. In 1945 another large local authority housing development was commenced at Rushmere Hall. A new trolley bus route was introduced via Sidegate Lane.

In 1948 the Ipswich Corporation electricity undertaking was nationalised which resulted in a large increase in the cost of the power for the trolley buses and also the cost of installing the infrastructure of new routes. This resulted in the decision to replace trolley buses by motor buses. The first new motor bus route was opened along Norwich Road in 1950 to serve the new Whitehouse estate. Another council estate was developed at Maidenhall in the early 1950s, followed by a private housing development in the adjoining Stoke Park. A bus service was introduced via Wherstead Road to serve these areas.

During the 1950s and 1960s very large local authority housing developments took place at Chantry between Belstead and London Roads, so bus services were introduced to serve these new residents. In the north west of the town the first local authority housing development took place in the late 1930s. This was followed during the late 1940s until the 19705 by more developments of council and private housing between Norwich Road and Henley Road, so bus routes were created to serve these areas via Norwich Road. In the mid-1980s a network of new bus routes was introduced using small vehicles to serve some areas of the town not covered by the main routes. Ipswich Airport was closed by the Council in the early 1990s for the development of Ravenswood. A new bus service was introduced via Landseer Road to serve the area, thus providing links between the town centre, Ravenswood, Warren Heath and Ransomes Europark.

Bob showed a fascinating selection of slides illustrating the different types of architecture of the housing in these newly created residential areas and also views of their local shopping areas. He was supported by his wife, Caroline, who was responsible for the control of the technology used to project his excellent material.

Russell Nunn

    Front cover of issue 183 Cover, issue 183

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