An Ipswich childhood in the 1920s & 30s.

Childhood memories of Ipswich, around eighty years ago, included playing football in a traffic free street, buying fireworks from the back room of the corner shop, Wallace Simpson’s divorce at the County Hall and buying beer in a jug for father on a hot summers night, came from Ernest Farrow who wrote from his home in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Ernest grew up in Ipswich and was a pupil at St Helens School. Ernest dug out photographs from his time at the school, he said “One was taken when I attended St Helens’ infants’ school late in the 1920s. Another photo was taken at St Margaret’s Boys School on Bolton Lane, late 1920s or early 1930s, Miss Watts was the teacher, Mr. Death (Decker to us boys) the Headmaster, a man who was quite handy with the cane.

“I lived at number 65 Finchley Road when I was 13-years-old, next door to us on the corner Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Scott, Mr. Scott played a cornet in the Salvation Army band. On the other side, number 63, Mrs. Brown, and next to her Mr. and Mrs. Prime. A little further down was a small Sweet Shop and General Store, run by a family named Withers, very useful - when mother ran short on something.”

“I remember our house was lit by gas in my early days, oh how the ceiling used to get a dark ring from the fumes. We had a meter in the front room, which took the large pennies and was emptied once a month by the meter man, who could wrap a roll of pennies very, very fast; we used to watch fascinated at his performance. That all stopped in the late 20s or early 30s when we were converted to electricity.”

“We used to play football at the end of Finchley Road, a practice not encouraged, every afternoon a Policeman used to come down the passage connecting Hayhill and Finchley roads at which time we scarpered. One day he changed routine, came up little Finchley Road and caught the lot of us; we received a good dressing down and told next time our parents would receive a visit. After that we always had a look out”.

“As youngsters we used to look though the fence of a Saunders Stone Mason's to see if we could catch sight of Dammo Green, centre forward for Ipswich Town in their Amateur days. Dammo was a prolific goal scorer and was our local hero, we often saw him chiseling away at a chunk of granite, it made our day!” “Well known local trades people included Hall’s the Newsagents and General Store, where we used to buy our fireworks in the back room. Hall’s was located between Samuel Road and Cemetery Road, then there was Smith’s the pork butcher located in Blanche Street and a small sweet shop on the corner of Little Cemetery Road, we were regulars there when we had a half penny to spend.” “Then at the junction of Suffolk and Norfolk Roads, now Tuddenham Avenue there was an Off-Licence and a Bakery named Ixworth’s. For many Christmas’ my mother made a large cake, which we would take over to lxworth’s to be baked. On a hot night, in the summer, my father would send me over to the off-license for a jug of beer.” “As a youngster I was a keen collector of cigarette cards, a popular past time back then. Each packet contained 10 cigarettes made locally by Churchmans.” “I attended two opening events which have stuck with me, one was the first Professional Football game played at Portman Road, a Southern League match against Tunbridge Wells we won 4-l. Jimmy McLuckie led out the team in their smart blue and white kits. I stood on the West Side on the Wooden Bleachers, cost of admittance for children 2 or 3 pence.”

“The second occasion my family attended the opening of the ‘Ritz’ cinema in the Butter Market on January 4, 1937, cost for a seat in the stalls 1/6 pence. Anna Neagle the actress was in the film and attended the opening. We moved to Princethorpe Road in 1937, but still maintained contact with several of our Finchley Road friends. My brother and I went down there to see the damage done by the Land Mine in World War Two, Cemetery Road was cordoned off and guarded by a big policeman.” “We witnessed an amusing incident, a gentleman well known to our family was determined to gain access to his house in Finchley Road, he was so persistent that eventually this big policeman told him that if he tried to get in there once more he would arrest him. My parents could not understand his behavior as he was a very quiet man and this was completely out of character. The mystery was not solved until several years after the war when he died, his son found a Smiths Crisp tin full of pound notes, cushions were lumpy also stuffed with notes!” “I was a chorister in the St Mary le Tower choir, prior to the opening of the Suffolk Assizes. A service was held attended by the Presiding Judge and local dignitaries, afterwards us boys used to run over to the County Hall to watch the judge arrive to a fanfare of trumpets. On one occasion the judge arrived after a long delay, his car surrounded by police, at the time we did not know the reason for this high level of security.” “It later transpired Mrs. Simpson’s divorce hearing was taking place before Mr. Justice Hawke. A man in the crowd said, “Royalty are mixed up in a divorce hearing today”. I repeated this to my mother and received a clip across the head for my trouble and was told: “Not to come home with yarns like that about the Royal Family!”