...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Willis Building (Grade I)

Newsletter, April 2014 (Issue 195)

Historic trade lettering talk

An Illustrated Talk by Borin Van Loon on December 18th 2013

There was a full house (ninety plus in the audience) for this excellent talk, which was packed with information about our town - all superbly illustrated. From The Emperor on Norwich Road through the town centre to the Co-operative shop and depot on Cauldwell Hall Road we visited a variety of trade lettering - messages from the past left by the working people of Ipswich. They exhort us to use 'Symonds for Kodaks' (12 Upper Brook Street) and to shop 'For Palmer's Door Mats &c.' (63 Upper Orwell Street). We can visit Wootton's (hairdresser, 7 Tavern Street) for a whole list of items and services, including 'leather goods, stationery, fountain pens, hot baths, hair brushes, fancy combs, permanent waving'. Take a look - there's more! The bracing Co-op motto 'Each for All & All for Each' greets us in Carr Street and inside the Foxhall Road Co-op. These last two are beautifully depicted and even better is the Art Nouveau 'Scarborow' (opticians) above the door of Pickwicks in Dial Lane. The pierced 'Crown & Anchor Hotel' sign above W H Smith is one of the joys of Westgate Street and the newly restored 'Price' (the bootmaker) with its balustrade on the corner of Tacket Street is a visual treat.

The 'Ransomes' lettering on the Reflections Night Club in Wykes Bishop Street is a 'shadow sign' - the lettering is no more, but the grime around it outlines a spectral 'Ransomes'. There are other friendly ghosts in our streets. 'Alfred Coe Builder' left his name on a small metal plate on 6/8 Carr Street; 'Fred Smith & Co' ran 'The Central Livery and Bait Stables' in Princes Street; 'C.Mills & Co.' owned the 'St Nicholas Foundry, Ipswich' (on a hydrant cover in Rope Walk). The two great modernist cranes preserved on the Island site will take the name of 'Babcock' into the future. Let's hope the same is true for the remaining dock tramway rails nearby with the inscription on the cover of a points lever, 'No.60. supplied-by-Darlington Railway Plant & Fdy Co Ltd Darlington England.'

I have not covered everything (how can I with so much on offer?), but will finish with 'Brand & Sons' (the corsetmakers) on the decorative panel of that wonderful building on Tacket Street (see Newsletter no. 185, October 2011). As our speaker said "Ipswich was huge in corsets" up until the early twentieth century! If you wish for more, visit Borin Van Loon's website, a treasure trove of delights.

Thank you Borin.

Caroline Markham

    Front cover of issue 195 Cover, issue 195

Back to top