Happy New Year.
It would be remiss of me to write this, the first Chairman's Remarks of the year without paying tribute to Beryl Harding who has died aged almost 106. She must have been the oldest member of the Society and was a great friend of my predecessor, Jack Chapman. Beryl had been Head of General Studies and then Social Studies at Civic College; she was a magistrate and later chair of the bench, as was Jack.
Beryl was a stalwart for education, and for the law. She was teaching at Northgate Grammar School for Girls as early as the mid 1930s, and continued her career when she got married (most brides left employment on the occasion of their weddings). Beryl pioneered the development of Ipswich Civic College after World War II using her redoubtable spirit and fierce intellect. It was an institution that developed into Suffolk College of Higher and Further Education, the forerunner of the University.
Further Education (FE) may have been regarded as a Cinderella service, but Beryl saw the opportunity it gave young people - the late developers who had perhaps failed their 11-plus examinations. Tertiary education is today offering opportunities, steps on to the career ladder, pioneered in her books and lectures on the expansion of FE Colleges.
Beryl was a pleasure to be with, informed, liberal and enthusiastic to the end. Our thoughts are with her family and friends, particularly those at Norwood Care Home who enjoyed her company to the end.
Further sad news: Frank Grace, longstanding friend of the Ipswich Society and also a former colleague at Suffolk College, died at the end of November 2017. Frank was a founding member and trustee of the Suffolk Archaeological Trust (1982).
Frank will be best remembered for his extensive research and writings on the social history of Ipswich, most notably the book Rags and bones (2005) which was inspired, or so Frank claimed, by the ghost outlines of the street pattern under the college car park that Frank observed every day whilst sitting in his elevated office.
The college car park alongside Long Street had never, until recently, been properly surfaced and thus there was clear difference between what had been street and the foundations of the terraced houses buried just below the surface.
People ask me where I get my inspiration for the articles in the EADT. Well, Rags and bones has provided background information on at least a couple and I am grateful to Frank for that.
Frank's other works on Ipswich include The late Victorian town (1992) and an extensive historical note on the Ordnance Survey reprints of the 1902 maps. Frank was a contributor to the Ipswich Society Symposium, The first to the third millennium in 2001, and his paper is included in the book of the conference. His latest book, In the name of God, Amen: Ipswich wills from the seventeenth century, was completed just before his death. Copies are available at £16 each from 5 Oban Street, Ipswich IP1 3PG. A review of the new book will be included in the April Ipswich Society Newsletter.
Against that background I wish you all the best for 2018.