The Ipswich Society has lost one of its oldest and most loyal members. An Ipswich man through and through, he retained a hint of a Suffolk dialect all his life although Russell only spoke when he had something to say and what he said was always worth noting. He was born in 1928 and educated at Northgate Grammar School and Queen Mary College, University of London reading chemistry. He was employed in the research laboratory at Fisons, then located at the south end of the Paper Mill Lane site at Bramford. The lovely nineteenth century Belfast roof structures of the old warehouse buildings there would have appealed to the young Russell.
The research laboratory was transferred to the new Birkin Haward designed building at Levington which opened in 1957. He rose to become Chief Chemist there. He was also very much concerned with the development of the young laboratory personnel there and at the then Ipswich Civic College. He maintained a relationship with the latter and his alma mater, Queen Mary College, all his working life. He joined the then Royal Institute of Chemistry (later the Royal Society of Chemistry) in 1951 and was an active local committee member for fifty years. Fellow RSC Committee Member, John Beckett: "His long experience on the Committee means that he is regarded as an authority on people, activities and events, and his opinion on current issues was much valued."
This statement can be echoed by committee members of both The Ipswich Society, where he contributed to the well-being and progress of his town and the Ipswich and District Historical Transport Society of which he was a founder and valued committee member for decades. Russell would work quietly and unstintingly behind the scenes.
His work for the Society was mostly in two fields of interest - transport and the Annual Awards. He knew more about the role of buses and trains in our area than any other layman we've come across. He appreciated the ability of a truly local bus company to respond to the needs of a community so, while never uncritical of Ipswich Buses, he understood their achievements and difficulties. He was well aware of the risk to strategic planning for buses as a result of the attempted muscling in of FirstBus, a situation still developing. It is sad that as a regular user of Ipswich Buses he will not be able to evaluate for the Society the redevelopment changes at our two bus stations. Nor will he see whether Greater Anglia, run by a Dutch company he respected, and Network Rail can significantly improve our Inter City and other train services. He would have been a good judge of performance and quality.
The Society's Awards system has long been one of our major contributions to the town in drawing public attention to the need for sympathetic and imaginative building. Russell organised this for the Society by seeking nominations of possible schemes, by appointing a well qualified panel of judges and dealing with invitations and certificates for winners. This was always achieved with typically quiet efficiency.
Russell and Mary, another Northgate pupil, had two children: Nigel and Brenda, later three grandchildren of whom Russell was immensely proud: Georgia, Jonathon and Matthew.
Russell would always agree to contribute articles about his special interests to The Ipswich Society Newsletter - and always delivered on time! His knowledge, dedication, good sense, advice and kindness will be greatly missed.
Neil Salmon & Mervyn Russen