The Stoke area of Ipswich was part of the town with hundreds of tiny terraced houses where families would organise themselves for bath night in a tin bath in front of an open fire. Most of the homes had an outside toilet. A visit could be quite a mission on a cold dark night, with a candle for light blowing in the breeze! Very few people had a car, relying on buses, walking, or cycling for transport. Doris Emmerson of, Ipswich, was a young wife and mother there, in the 1950s. Doris said “My husband and I had been married for around seven years and had two children when we moved to an end terrace house at number 2 Ashley Street. I was 28-years-old. The rent was fifteen shillings a week (75 pence). I have happy memories of those years, the house always seemed compact and warm, and the neighbours were so friendly and hubby’s mother lived just across the road in Little’s Crescent.”
“My mother-in-law was Mrs. Booth and we always referred to her as “Nana Booth”. She was an excellent housekeeper and taught me many skills. She herself had been brought up in a pub, The Swan at Wangford near Southwold. Her father also kept the local butchers shop in the village and if we ever stayed over before we had the children, he insisted that we went across the road to select our breakfast, sausages, bacon, liver, kidneys to take back to the pub for a fry up!”
“I remember Pickering’s the builders in Little's Crescent and further down a lady who provided all the neighbours with homemade cakes. The toilet at our house was an outside loo and the bath was a tin bath in front of the fire filled from a copper we boiled up. We had no fridges in those days so I bought meat daily with half crown (12.5 pence), which had to stretch far further than it was meant to!”
“While we lived at Ashley Street, I worked 20 hours a week cleaning Ransomes and Rapiers offices, from 5.30 to 9.30 each evening and got £3.20 in wages per week. I particularly remember managing director Richard “Dick” Stokes who would wander in when we were scrubbing the floors sometimes and would always say: “Oh, please get up, I hate to see a lady on her knees!”
“I would go into town every Friday morning and do the main shopping because it was cheaper and only purchased odd things the rest of the week, like an old half crown of meat as we had no fridge to keep meat cool for any amount of time! The corner shop, on the corner of Kenyon Street, was called “Finbow’s”, and in those days people were allowed to accrue a weekly account. Each Friday night on my way home from work I would buy a fish and chip supper from Bell Lane fish shop for the four of us! My treat on my wage was to buy myself an old 2d Woman’s Realm magazine every Saturday.”
“We had family parties there at Christmas and had a lot of fun playing cards and “tibbit” until midnight and hubby always bought me some flowers on Christmas Eve.”
“We would buy a special cooked ham at Christmas from “Porky” Priors the pork butchers, next to Newstead’s on Bath Street corner. I also recall Whaley’s corner shop on the corner of Turin Street, and “Potter’s”, one of a chain of shops in Ipswich, selling miscellaneous goods, owned by the same family. Family wedding receptions were often held at a hall just off Station Street, and there was a youth club in Station Street and Conservative Club in Vernon Street too.”
“The children went to school at what is now Hillside School and loved to call in at Shank’s bakery half way to school and buy a halfpenny roll which they would eat in preference to breakfast. The bread that the bakery produced was delicious and the air was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.”
Tom Scrivener, Ipswich added his memories of Stoke. “I remember my mum and dad taking me on the Paddle Steamer on a Sunday down to Felixstowe leaving from the staging just across from the Steamboat Tavern on New Cut West. There was a rowing boat ferry from the bottom of Bath Street across to New Cut East to where the umbrella shelter used to stand at the end of New Cut East. The area was also a nice walk on a Sunday afternoon.
“Stoke Bathing place was where I was taught to swim by my dad. If you paid six pence you went through to the other side of the fence where there were changing huts and a diving board. The water was changed by the tide coming in and out; also behind the bathing place there were big sheds for the rowing club. We could get along the beach to see them.”
“The other side of the bathing place was where, I think Brown’s timber merchants used to keep their big pieces of wood all chained together like floating paths, as children we had great fun on them until we got chased away! There was a wonderful smell of freshly baked bread “Over Stoke” . Mrs. Frances Osborn, of Ipswich said “My father owned Orwell Bakery in Stoke Street from 1947 to 1956, he bought the business from a Harry Burwood, when he retired, he told my father that in the future Belstead would be joined to Ipswich, which has come true.”
“I used to deliver bread daily to all the local streets in Stoke, Great and Little Whip Streets, Bulstrode Road, Gower Street, Hawes Street, Turin Street, and Pauline Street, to name but a few, and going as far as the local villages.”
“There were three bakeries over Stoke at that time, Howard’s, Whip Street. Before Howard’s the owner was Day, who earlier had a bakery in Eagle Street. Before Garrod’s owned Station Street Bakery, it was owned by Mr. Catton, the last people to run the bakery were called Jennings. The bakehouse in Station Street used to deliver bread by pony and cart and a Mr. Hazelton used to work with the cart, and his sister worked in my parents’ bakers shop, her name was Elsie. In those days you could buy anything local without going into town, there was a butchers, shoe shop, babywear, piano shop, chemist, café, newsagents, greengrocers, furniture shop owned by Allen & Son, pork shop. In Harland Street there was a lady who used to tell your fortune. I lived “Over Stoke” from 1947 until 1991, they were good old days, my three daughters attended Hillside, Tower Ramparts, then Stoke High Schools.
Mrs. J Ramsey (nee Palmer), of Ipswich also recalls riding on the trio of paddle steamers owned by Great Eastern Railways, The Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex which ran a service from near the Steamboat Tavern on New Cut West to Felixstowe and Harwich until around 1930.
“I still have vivid memories of sitting on my grandmother’s doorstep, in Purplett Street, around 1936. I would have a big basin on my lap, waiting to hear the ringing sound of Mr. Harry Clark’s bell, as he rode his trade bike, and can still hear him shouting “Harwich Shrimps” as he came along. This was always our treat for tea on Sunday afternoons. I remember running down the street to the waterside to catch the paddle steamers. We would take a trip to Harwich, which we thought was the other end of the world! Oh happy times and such simple delights.”