Lost - But Not Forgotten Now
Ipswich, Lost Inns, Taverns and Public Houses
by David Kindred. Old Pond Publishing Ltd, £14.95
Our last Newsletter (July) informed members that No 16 Butter Market was built as Ipswich's Grand Hotel. That was one of the surprising facts I learned from a pre-publication copy of David Kindred's book. I feel sure that anyone reading this new book will find equally surprising things about our town, whether or not you are keen on pubs. The splendid range and variety of photographs will open up different vistas of history.
There is a sociological interest in these photos. For instance, the list of historical titles and licence terms amounts to six categories, which in alphabetical order are: alehouse, beerhouse, hotel, inn, public house and tavern. To see what I mean, try arranging these establishments (omitting the more generic name, 'public house') in ascending order of social class!
The sheer numbers of lost pubs is staggering when you also consider that the population of Ipswich was so much less in the 19th century. In 1893 we are told there were 308 licensed premises in the town. In the last section of the book, pubs closed before 1920, the names come thick and fast and the reader is grateful that locations are given so as to distinguish between those of the same name, e.g. there were four different pubs called The Cherry Tree. Where people appear in the photos we can see what a different world it was -like the charabanc outing from The Vernon Arms in the 1920s; all men and only one without a hat. Or the outing of cyclists from the (original) Safe Harbour in Borough Road (now part of Grimwade Street); not even the 2012 Olympics will produce such an outing as that.
Most of these little lost pubs look quite mean, but we have lost a few (to my eye) quite distinguished looking buildings, e.g. The Crown in Norwich Road, The Duke of Kent, The Rainbow, Hotel and The Royal William, and some " Tolly Follies' like The Safe Harbour in Meredith Road and The Waveney.
David Kindred acknowledges the .. thousands of hours" of research done by Jack Ruffles who died in 2006. Similarly, all reviews of this fascinating book should make clear that Mr Ruffles' labour of love must have been crucial in producing this book at all. One last thought - the Grand Hotel (later Limmer's and now Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society) in Butter Market really deserves much better maintenance now. Go and have a look. Ken Nichols' letter recalls happier days for the building.