Eleven years ago I moved from Bury St Edmunds to Ipswich, having been a Suffolk boy all my life. Apart from a short period in the 1970s living and working in the Marlborough Hotel on Henley Road and as quite a regular visitor to the town for many other reasons - not least that Ipswich had far more shops, theatres etc. than Bury (it also had a Boat show and a Banger racing track, a Ski slope and Portman Road football and much, much more which could not be found anywhere else in the area) - I had never actually lived in Ipswich.
When I moved here, I suddenly realised how out of touch I was with a town I thought I knew quite well. Ipswich is steeped in history which, until you actually live here, you are not really aware of. Even people who live here often don't realise what an incredible history the town has.
I started to research the town a bit more via the internet. I looked up things such as Fore Street Baths, Blackfriars Monastery and Greyfriars Shopping Centre and each time this Borin Van Loon appeared on the Google list on my screen. Thinking this must be some sort of Scandinavian shirt maker I didn't take much notice of it, but as I continued to search it came up again and again so I clicked on it to see what it was all about.
To my surprise it had nothing to do with shirts whatsoever but was the pseudonym of some chap running a website called Ipswich Historic Lettering. The site had originated in July 2003 recording obsolete signage around Ipswich from old shops and businesses no longer around.
It occurred that what had started as a fairly simple idea had snowballed into one of the most informative and well researched websites on recent Ipswich history available on the web. Borin had not just recorded the signage but also the history behind the companies, complete with accompanying photographs. Once you started on one subject it would lead you on to another and yet another, all intertwined. Three hours later you would find yourself still on the site, not at all bored and a lot wiser about Ipswich. This was far more than just historic lettering.
I started to check the site regularly, by-passing Google.
In October this year suddenly "Borin" stopped appearing and I thought I had lost an old friend and then one of the headings mentioned a re-launch of the website on October 3rd 2015. All the Borin Van Loon headings had gone to be replaced with Ipswich Historic Lettering and the website now has a new address www.ipswich-lettering.co.uk
Borin was back! Borin Van Loon is the Encyclopædia Britannica of Ipswich and for those who have not yet discovered this Ipswich gem, do have a look.
You'll be amazed. Tim Leggett
Borin gives our Winter Talk on Ipswich street lettering, Wednesday 20 January 2016 (details: page 23).