Editor John Brown, 1967-71
Time softens everything. I forget the arm-twisting and cajoling that made me editor in 1967. The promises of support - but not, alas, just yet ! - have joined the mistakes, misprints and missed deadlines in a rose-tinted blur. What a golden age it was !
When I actually re-read Newsletters numbers 10 to 24, once I have got over being impressed by the sheer quantity produced, a change of mood occurs. Much that occupied us then, now seems so trivial; most of it depressingly familiar.
Issue 10 (October 1967) made much of the Great White Horse inquiry. Great rejoicing that the hotel was saved ! Today's reader may be forgiven for asking, "Saved for what ?"
Peter Underwood reported on the Ipswich Expansion inquiry in Issue 13 (July 1968) and on the Minister's decision not to go ahead with expansion a year later. "Shankland who?"
Number 19 (January 1970), 20 and 24 (April 1971) record the saga of the Sailors' Rest. Another fine building saved for posterity ! "Have you looked at it recently ?"
On the other hand, there were brighter spots. Campaigns concerning both advertising hoardings and trees led to modest but lasting improvements. And continued reporting of the good and bad in Ipswich must have done something to raise public awareness of our urban environment.
Some things are much as they always were ! Every one of my fifteen Newsletters carried a plea for new contributors. And Adam Gordon (and, to be fair, one or two others) could always be relied on for an entertaining "Street Scene".
Plus ca change ...
Editor Tony Hill, 1971-79
1 remember well when John Brown, then editor of the Ipswich Society Newsletter, announced he was off to the South Seas for three years. I had just joined the Ipswich Society and, suddenly became the new editor! It must have been as difficult then to find volunteers as it is today - I was stuck with the job for about seven years.
I remember well the Sunday afternoons spent in Adam Gordon's office, sweating over the Roneo 750 duplicator which would send paper aeroplanes flying all over the room as soon as one's attention was distracted. I remember also the backache gained from collating and stapling 500 Newsletters, and the furry tongue from licking 500 envelopes! I remember the endless telephone calls and badgering which were always necessary to get the promised articles and the last minute information about the forthcoming events.
Looking back through some of the editions which were published during my term of office has reminded me of a few of the burning issues which are now long forgotten. For example:
In 1971, Mrs M White wrote....
"What about the awful congestion in the shopping area of the town, particularly Tavern Street? How much longer must we weave our way through a continuous string of vehicles, the drivers of which (no doubt very frustrated) in their anxiety, pay little heed to the pedestrian? Is our Borough Council really aware of this? Do they also realise the appalling condition of the pavements? Do they realise that to reach the new Market, Greyfriars, (4 minutes from the Cornhill) means a walk up and down an underground way? Does anyone ever see the empty buildings, an old church in Crown Street, and a nearby garage rapidly falling into decay, and other buildings, even some houses which soon become rubbish dump?"
On the subject of Dutch Elm disease...
"Although difficult to identify at the present time of year, it is thought that the current outbreak of this disease will not prove too great a threat to the Town's elm trees. So far, only our Parks have been thoroughly examined, but it may well be that we as a Society can help to complete the task when the trees are again in leaf."
And in 1975, Jonathan Drake commented...
"To be optimistic, however, the new Entertainments Centre (Corn Exchange) given a more enlightened basis, able to take full advantage of its position in the middle of the town, adjoining the facilities of the Town Hall itself, seems to have every chance of filling a longstanding gap in the community, without visibly altering the area in which it has been built. Such environmental neutrality can hardly be claimed for Willis, Faber and Dumas: their new Head Office gives little to Ipswich other than employment for office workers (already in short supply) and the dubious privilege of an architectural wonder, which, although beautiful as it stands, has little in common with our streets. It represents just one more incursion into our historical town, and though its effect is to an extent minimised by its low height and adherence to the old street contours, the great block of black glass can hardly look anything but out of place."
With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that over the years the majority of the contributors to the Ipswich Society Newsletter "got it right" - it is very consoling to look back and realise how many of the causes for which we once fought are now "facts of life". It makes all that effort seem really worthwhile.
Editors Ian and Mary Chilvers, 1979-83
Shortly after joining the Ipswich Society in November 1978, I casually remarked to John Andreason that Ian and I would be happy to be of some practical use to the Society. (This was my first mistake !) Our offer was swiftly followed by a 'phone call from the then chairman, Bob Allen, who turned up on our doorstep a few evenings later accompanied by Tony Hill. "How do you feel about editing the Newsletter ?" I had in mind addressing envelopes or delivering Newsletters when I offered our help, not becoming editors. Still in a dazed state we found ourselves agreeing, not only to take over from Tony, who had given such sterling service for eight years, but also to produce something "a bit different" once a year. This saw the birth of the Ipswich Society Review, which was to be printed not duplicated and would include photographs and a cover illustration. Ian vividly remembers sitting with Bob Allen in his study waiting for him to finish his drawing of the Ancient House so that our new "baby" could go to the printers. I am pleased to say that the Review was very well received by the membership.
We were fortunate to edit the Newsletter during a very vigorous period of the Society's history. Looking back through the archive copies, I read again of the Society's concern for the Ancient House, the Bull Inn threatened by the Star Lane link road scheme and our views on the proposed Crown Street sports complex and the eventual building of Crown Pools. During this period the Society took the bold step of rescuing the Brett Drinking Fountain in Christchurch Park, when the Council proposed to demolish it, and then embarked on a series of fund-raising events including the first Ipswich Society barbecue, all of which provided many articles for the Newsletter.
Our editorial efforts relied on the help given by Mrs Parsons who patiently typed three Newsletters a year, Mr Walter Wright who kindly duplicated them for us and the late Miss Madge Ellis, who diligently addressed the envelopes. She also corrected my distribution list. Unfortunately I never did manage to persuade her that Miss Watthews was not Miss Matthews despite a lengthy correspondence on the subject.
Ian and I would like to take this opportunity to wish Neil Salmon good luck as he becomes editor - there are times when he'll need it
Editor Ed Barella 1983 - 1986
When I took over from Ian and Mary Chilvers, my aim as editor was to keep the Newsletter in the form which had served the members, as I thought, very well for several years. One minor aspiration I had was to give full credit to contributors by appending their full names rather than initials. The other desire I had was one which all editors attempt to achieve but never do, namely, to eradicate typing errors. I had had previous experience of editing a church magazine wherein errors were just as likely to arise despite the most assiduous scrutiny of the proofs. I was constantly alert to the fear that I might allow a report to be published about a church festival, say, in which "the choir led the sinning" ! I cannot think of any such error in the Ipswich Society Newsletter which might raise shocked eyebrows - unless you know different
I am envious of the success which Fiona Powell has achieved in the splendid face-lifting enterprises undertaken during her editorship. I feel for her over the continuing problem of errors creeping in despite the use of word processors which permit easier correction than cut stencils.
No editor can function in the production of a newsletter without the stalwart support of many other people, particularly the contributors of articles and also the worthy typist Mrs Parsons, who had unstintingly given her services for several years before that. Not least important is the willing band of collators, envelopers and small army of postpersons whose services are so far not superseded by even the most advanced Information Technology systems.