James Reid Moir did valuable early work on prehistory, particularly in relation to the geological deposits of East Anglia. Born in Hitchin, he was educated in Ipswich and was associated with our town for the whole of his life. His archaeological work began in earnest with an investigation into the bed of stones at the base of the Red Crag sand exposed in the Dales Road Brickfield of Messrs. Bolton & Laughlin. He surmised that some of the flints here were humanly worked and summarised many years of work in a lecture to the Royal Society in 1939, estimating that it was about 2 million years since these implements were made. Reid Moir's scientific work was well-executed and many of the flints remain in the Ipswich Museum collection, the current archaeological interpretation however, is that the flints are not humanly-worked. Throughout his life Reid Moir continued to investigate the prehistory of East Anglia, conducting many excavations, including one for the British Association at Hoxne (where John Frere had first discovered and understood the great antiquity of flint axes in 1798). Reid Moir established that these were of interglacial age and linked them in age to deposits in the brickfield near Derby Road station in Ipswich. He supported the formation, and was President of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia (later to become the Prehistoric Society of Great Britain) and he was President of Ipswich Museum, 1929-44.
After his death, a memorial seat bearing Reid Moir's name was placed beneath the large oak tree at the junction of Valley Road and Westwood Avenue. The parcel of land had been purchased by and presented to Ipswich Corporation by Alderman T. R. Parkington (Chairman of the Museum Committee) as a result of an appeal in the press by Reid Moir for its exclusion from the development of the Brooks Hall Estate which would have entailed the tree's removal. The seat is long gone and recently the Broomhill Pool Trust and Friends of Broomhill Library led by Mark Ling decided to place an information panel beside “Moir's Oak”. It was officially opened by Cllr Inga Lockington on May 7th 2016 and has information on Reid Moir and on Sir Anthony Wingfield (1488-1552), original owner of the Brooks Hall Estate which today is covered by the Broomhill area and Valley Road. The venerable oak tree could well be old enough to date back to the 15th century and in helping to perpetuate its conservation the residents of Broomhill have created a fitting memorial to one of Ipswich's most noted residents.
Much of the information on James Reid Moir was taken from his obituary by Guy Maynard in the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology Proceedings 1946.