The Social Settlement, Fore Street, Ipswich
“… Next to that was a big building, built on the Dutch architecture, with big round stonework on the top of the second floor, ‘cause they had a big second floor there. And they had tapered finials on the top of this round stonework. That was a Social Settlement: a solidly-built brick building. They had a number of windows in it, opening out on a latch - no sash windows - and that had a big door in the middle. The other side of that door was another set of windows. The whole building would be about fort-five feet long. That was built by a benefactor of the town, namely Daniel Ford Goddard. He built one or two buildings in the town.
The Social Settlement, which anyone could join, if they cared to pay tuppence a week. If you were a pensioner receiving about five shillings a week, then you got in free. No-one questioned your age, you just went in. They used to have cinematographs in there, where we boys, on a Saturday afternoon, would pay a penny and we'd go in. We made no noise because we daren't. There were men in there who would soon turf you out. We'd watch the cinema; it was only about ten minutes walk from where I lived. So, we used to go there Saturday afternoons, particularly if that was raining or cold.
Then they'd have the Women's Circle there. The women in the surrounding places would go there and there'd be sewing machine available. There'd be the old Tortoise fire - or a pot-bellied stove as that was called. It looked like a barrel, but it was stoked up with coal and wood and that was always near a wall because the pipe was hot and that was put through the wall so that the smoke and fumes went outside. That was nice and warm. There was no carpeting on the floor; it was swept. When that was swept, you needed a mask because that was so dusty.
Anyhow, there were all forms in there and the women used to sit round in their little squares with their four forms making a square. Perhaps someone would do knitting, someone would do sewing, but they got merrily on with it. Someone would be at the trestle table and they would hand out cups of tea; if they were in the Social Settlement Club, they subscribed each week. Somebody would bring in home-made cakes, or if they'd got a little money to spare, they go across the road to the baker's. Invariably, the baker, as in those days, would donate a lot of cakes to these people. ‘Cos some of them couldn't afford cakes, that was hard enough to buy the bread.
If there was a political meeting on, if that was Conservative it would be decorated with blue ribbon, But if it was Labour that would be decorated outside with red. There was no squabbles, no shouting, no fighting. They went in, they had their meetings and they had their discussions…”
From an oral history of Fore Street in the 1920s: memories of his boyhood in Ipswich by Ted King.
See also Fore Street maps showing Listed buildings and Public houses.