Ipswich Icons and Fore Street memories from William Thompson, Norwich.
I am writing to say how interesting and enjoyable the articles in Ipswich Icons are to me. My daughter, Jean, who lives in Colchester, cuts them out and sends them to me at regular intervals. The reason for my interest is that I lived in Ipswich from 1951 to 1972 and took my employment at Smyth Bros, Builders Merchants. Fore Street in those years was abusy thoroughfare. I also brought up my family of three in Ipswich.
In addition to retail outlets there were one or two manufacturers: Conder's (gloves) and Gardiner's (sweet factory). In Tolly's bottling store the team of girls worked in cellars below street level.
The ill-reputed club was situated in cellars below Gale & Galey's. When you entered from the main street it was a long, dark passage and at the end an illuminated photo of the Queen. The club was in the cellar which had steel supports. The owner had an Alsatian, which had one blind eye, chained to a support.
I have one request. Can you find out any information about a merchant's house east of Isaac Lord's. It had a large studded door entering into a domestic area and, at the rear, a beautiful garden. Mr Scott lived there at the time, but worked in London.
[We think that Mr Thompson is referring to the Neptune Inn at 86 Fore Street. This undated photograph (courtesy Phil Snowden) is of the garden behind the Neptune, once Neptune Antiques, which used to have open days for potential customers. Note the ship's figurehead. - Ed.]
Traffic lights from Ken Wilson
I was interested to see in the October Newsletter a picture of traffic lights with the top one labelled ‘Stop'. Your older readers may remember that in the early days of these lights, in order to ensure that motorists understood what they had to do, not only was the red light labelled ‘Stop' but the green one was labelled ‘Go' - an encouragement later very sensibly qualified in the Highway Code.
There wasn't space to write ‘Caution' on the amber light but most motorists were cautious anyway and, when at night there was little traffic, the lights were simply left on amber all the time.
When roundabouts were introduced at junctions they were widely praised since, not only did they ensure a smooth flow of traffic, but they also avoided the great expense of traffic lights. (There is, of course, no shortage of money at Suffolk County Council.)
[N.B.: The number of traffic lights in the UK has gone up from 23,000 in 1994 to 33,000 in 2014. It's no wonder the average speed across all streets and roads has reduced from 25.3mph (2012) to 23.6mph (2015). Perhaps fewer non-drivers are getting knocked down, however.-Ed.]