A Jorvik for Ipswich? from Jordan Nye

I was recently reading your July newsletter which I always find very interesting. I have been meaning to join the Society but never seem to find a moment!

Looking at the article on College Street, have there been any thoughts to whether it would be amenable to being made into an archaeological centre/museum akin to the fantastic Jorvik centre in York?

From what you have said this is an internationally important site with potentially lots of waterlogged deposits. To have an Anglo-Saxon equivalent to the Jorvik centre would be a massive draw for the town and attract people from far and wide to experience it – and truly make it known that Ipswich is England's first and oldest town. It would also preserve the area instead of it being wrecked by other development… How many more flats can the town really take?

[As so often, these ideas are very attractive and it all comes down to finance, funding, political will and goodwill from property owners. -Ed]



Ipswich engineering history from Graham Day

I was pleased to see Barry Girling’s letter in the recent Newsletter. Growing up ‘over Stoke’, the engineering works of Ransomes & Rapier and, to a lesser extent, Cocksedge, dominated the lives of many, including my late father. There was also a huge physical presence in respect of buildings: looking out of our back upstairs windows we could see the Waterside Works, and to the left – where the Ip City complex now is – the gigantic fabrication shop where the massive walking Draglines were built, for use in the this country and for export around the globe.

In my middle teens, if I mistimed my walk to the newsagent to collect my evening newspaper round, I would hear the sound and then not be able to cross Wherstead Road as workers from Rapiers, anxious to get home, pedalled furiously along like a swarm of ants! No chance to cross for a while.

For several years my father travelled by train around the UK, to such exotic locations as Yorkshire, Manchester, and Tyneside, to sample-check components which were sub-contracted out by Rapiers to other engineering firms. As such, engineering was an important and significant part of the lifeblood and prosperity of the town. Barry is correct that the only tangible sign of Rapiers presence is the war memorial, moved from Waterside Works to Bourne Park.

It has infuriated me for many years that the Borough Council effectively air-brushes away the engineering history of Ipswich. There surely should be some marker or interpretation panels to  prove and inform about  the existence of these  significant employers. Other towns are proud of their manufacturing past; why not Ipswich?


And more engineering… from John Alborough

I was interested to read the excellent feature concerning the Ransomes & Rapier buffers (Newsletter July 2019). Members may be interested to know that I have also seen the same design of R & R buffers at Central Station (Retiro Station), Buenos Aires, Argentina and also Central Station (Estación Alameda), Santiago, Chile. Both stations were British-built.

It’s always nice to be travelling a long way from home and then to stumble upon such lovely reminders of our once great history of engineering exports.