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Newsletter, April 2011 (Issue 183)

Peter Bruff, Great Engineer

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Peter Bruff, Great Victorian Engineer

Following up my article in the October Newsletter 2009 concerning Peter Bruff, an error has been pointed out to me by Mr Hugh Moffat. He wrote what amounts to a biography of Bruff, 'East Anglia's First Railways'. In the book Mr Moffat had stated that Bruff's home near Handford Road was demolished soon after the death of the latter in 1900. Mr Moffat has since pointed out that Handford Lodge was in fact only demolished in the 1920s and was the home of Mr D H Booth after the death of Mrs Bruff. (Booth, as Mayor of Ipswich, had laid the foundation stone of the Corn Exchange on 22 October 1880.)

I also include a photograph of Peter Bruff's grave in the Old Ipswich Cemetery. The stone looks amazingly clean considering its age. On the subject of age, the birth date is recorded wrongly on the stone as, according to the appropriate parish register in Portsmouth, he was born on 23 July 1812, not 1811.

Another issue concerns the Perspex etching celebrating Bruff's building of Stoke Hill tunnel. This was less than impressive but was nonetheless the only memorial to Bruff existing within the area of the station building. It was situated above the booking windows but has now been removed or covered up with an advertising hoarding featuring Ipswich Town Football Club.

I also note that one other memorial to Bruff does exist in Ipswich and that is as a road name, Bruff Road. This is a new road situated off Croft Street near the site of the first Ipswich station. A number of railway related road names now occur in the area, examples being Bromley Close, Adams Close and Sinclair Close. The three latter gentlemen were all Locomotive Superintendents on the Great Eastern Railway in the 19th century.

I would still recommend to the Society's Committee that we consider the installation of a Blue Plaque in the Handford Road area or at the railway station in honour of this great Victorian engineer who brought the railway to Ipswich and also designed much of the underground sewer system. He could therefore be regarded as the Bazalgette of Ipswich as well as the Brunel.

Merv Russen

    Front cover of issue 183 Cover, issue 183

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