Eastern Union Railway
The street nameplate at the junction with Wherstead Road.
of the EUR is, perhaps, not well enough known
and examples of lettering in Station Street and Croft Street are the
visible vestiges of the original Ipswich terminus. The most obvious is
on the concrete plinth which is further up
Street (note the cast iron street sign above in
fettle with its superior 't') close to the corner with the
southernmost part of Rectory
'IPSWICH LOCO MEN'S
Serif'd italic capitals are picked out in black paint
white-painted background: kept in very good condition by the club, no
doubt. A short way along Rectory Road is the attractive frontage of the
Locomotive Social Club replete with illuminated black and white steam
CLUB & INSTITUTE'
This site is only a few yards away from the Nethaniah Home For The Aged and at the other end of Rectory Road, 'Norfolk
[UPDATE 30.1.2017: 'I note that
you mention the name stone outside the Loco club being well looked
after. I have lived on Rectory Road for 17 years and lived on
Croft Street for a couple of years beforehand. That stone used to
be immaculate and unpainted, until some n'er-do-well sprayed it with
graffiti. When it was sand-blasted it damaged the stone really
badly, and that's when it started being painted. I just thought
that might interest you. Kind regards, Andrew Laws. Many thanks to Andrew for this additional,
and unexpected, information.
More from Andrew: 'I'm contacting you because I have recently been
enjoying your Ipswich Lettering website. In particular, I'm really
interested in your page on the Eastern Union Railway. I recently
launched a website called SoSuffolk.com
that will (among other things) be focusing on the history of
Ipswich. My father has written an extensive article on the
original Ipswich Railway Station on Croft Street. My Dad tells me he
used your site to double check some of his facts so thank you also for
that! I would like to add a link to your website at the foot of
the article for people who would like to find out more.' Scroll down for more on the EUR.]
Above: decaying street sign at the top of Croft Street sign nameplate.
part of Rectory Road round a right angle
and Croft Street slopes down the hill and near the bottom we find two
adjacent buildings on opposite corners of Webb Street. Both were busy
public houses in the heyday of the railway and West Bank dockland area.
The EUR Hotel
Courtesy Ipswich Society
Above left: CAMRA's
excellent Suffolk Real Ale Guide (see Links)
invaluable for tracking not just current real ale pubs, 'fizz-only'
pubs and former pubs, but also some putative old pubs. (There are often
period photographs of the pubs when they were open for business.) There
is no doubting these two buildings, though: they have the look of
public houses with their 45 degree angle corner entrances facing one
another over Webb Street.
The Great Eastern (ironically the smaller of the two), 42-44 Croft
Street, alternatively known as GER, was closed in 1996.
Above right: Tom Gondris photographed the EUR in the 1990s; the image
can be found on the Ipswich Society's Image Archive (see Links).
Photo courtesy The Ipswich Society
The above photograph, taken in the late 1990s by Tom Gondris MBE, shows
that the EUR boasted some rather fine frosted windows: 'EUR HOTEL'.
This image comes from The Ipswich Society Flickr collection (see Links).
The EUR (alternatively known as the Eastern Union Railway, Railway
Hotel) at 36-38 Croft St opened around 1850 and was closed in 2005. A
stylish circular monogram: 'EUR' interlaces the three
characters in a
most satisfactory emblem, forming part of the ceramic ('faience')-faced lower part
of the pub's frontage. This monogram appears twice on this face of the
So why did
this quiet Ipswich back street boast two
sizeable public houses? The answer is in the coming of the railway to
this part of Stoke and with it employment, earth movement, civil and
heavy engineering and increasing road traffic. The Eastern Union
Railway was opened for public passenger traffic on 11 July 1846 from an
end-on junction with the Eastern Counties Railway
Colchester to the first terminus station at Croft Street, Ipswich which
later became engine sheds and sidings once a new Ipswich station
opened. The tunnel opened on 26
November 1846 with a trial train to Bury St Edmunds, and fully opened
to passengers on 7 December 1846. Ipswich Station on its present site
opposite the top of Railway Station Road (later an extension of Princes
Street) was opened in1860. The GER was
1862 by amalgamation of the Eastern Counties
Railway with smaller railways: the Norfolk Railway, the Eastern Union
Railway, the Newmarket and Chesterford Railway, the East Norfolk
Railway, the Harwich Railway, the East Anglian Railway and the East
Suffolk Railway among others.
Ipswich's first station
This is thought to be the earliest tunnel in
the country to be built on a sharp continous
excavations for which unearthed from deep in
Stoke hill: fossilised woolly elephant, lion
and rhinocerous dating from before the great Ice Age. 'Stoke Bone Beds'
the source is apparently called. Stories
of roof collapses and a myriad of problems including complaints from
houses in the roads around Belstead Avenue that their wells had run dry
because all the spring water now drained into the tunnel below were
finally overcome. Improvements in the 1970s finally drained the
waters fully away via conduits and the whole tunnel track-bed had to be
lowered in the 2004 so that larger container trains to and from
Felixstowe docks could be accomodated. Walking above the overgrown
Avenue/Luther Road area above the tunnel entrance today you would
barely know that a main line
railway was operating in the deep cutting way below thundering into and
out of Stoke hill. See the article
about Peter Schuyler Bruff, 'The Brunel of the Eastern Counties', and
the tunnel. There is a little more on Peter Bruff on our V.A. Marriott page; Bruff is commemorated
by a street name, see Street name
images from late 1970s
Ah, Watney's Red Barrel hanging over the Great Eastern... It's clear
that the EUR boasted frosted
glass windows (see above) with decoration and the name of the
have been removed now that it's a residence.
[UPDATE 27.12.2013: John
"Hello Again, Borin,
Further inspection of your website reminded me that I have the attached
images relating to the EUR pub in Croft Street. Some might just be of
use to you.
Mr 'Bogie' Willson*, seen leaning on the spare wheel of the charabanc,
was, at the time:
(a) The landlord of the EUR.
(b) 'Master' of the Royal Ancient Order of Buffaloes. Note their
initials over the door of the pub.
(c) My maternal great-grandfather.
In the other picture he is decked out in his official regalia.
(*Not a typo, there were two 'L's)
The remaining two pictures I took, before and after the EUR closed.
Sadly, I have no date for the earlier ones but, to judge from the
vehicle, it must have been sometime in the late nineteen twenties or
The rather wonderful period photograph of the
charabanc outing outside the EUR includes several pieces of lettering:
the charabanc is called 'MARGUERITE' in a decorative font,
1. the (partial) circular sign on the window at right probably reads:
'JOHN HOPKINS[?] & Co, OLD MULL SCOTCH
2. the blind window to the right of the pub sign carries the lettering:
'[COBBOLDS?] ALES AND SPIRITS' in drop-shadow capitals – interestingly
there is a clear entrance door below this which certainly is not in
evidence in later photographs; this suggests that it was taken at a
time before the monogrammed ceramics were added;
3. 'THE EUR HOTEL' in drop-shadow capitals on the projecting pub sign
(the wrought iron sign bracket is still there on the 2011 photograph;
4. 'RAOB' (Royal Andediluvian ['before Noah's
Flood'] Order of Buffaloes)
above the door, as noted by John;
5. pub sign painted on the blind corner window of The Great Eastern in
the background (speculative): 'THE GREAT EASTERN FOR ... & ALES,
STOUTS & PORTER, WINES & SPIRITS'.
[UPDATE 14.3.2016: John
Barbrook, historian of the Crane family,
sends this image relation to "The Buffs" – 'the working man's
Masons'."A note to say how much I enjoyed your talk and presentation
last Wednesday. Just as a follow-up to me mentioning it, my grandfather
– a pillar of Museum Street Methodist
Church 100 or so years ago where the Ipswich Society now meet – was
a member of both the Independent Order of Rechabites and the Royal
Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. I recall two framed and very ornate
certificates (pretty big) proudly hanging on his dining room wall. I
also seem to remember him drinking a toast (with ginger wine –
non-alcoholic of course) to these adornments at Christmas when my
grandparents entertained the whole family over the Christmas period.
There were on one occasion, 26 for lunch. Running out of chairs, for
the children, they had blanket-covered planks with a chair at each end.
courtesy John Barbrook
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF RECHABITES,
SALFORD UNITY, ... FRIENDLY
NOMINATION FOR FUNERAL MONEY.
This certifies that Mrs M. Barbrook of Ipswich in the County of Suffolk has been duly
nominated to receive £5.0.0 of
Funeral Benefit, payable by Tent No. 3202
of the above-named Order on the death of Lilian A.M. Barbrook at present a
member of the said Tent. Mon. 1st 1921.'
I came across the attached IOR funeral benefit receipt amongst
my family archives today, which granted their daughter Lilian (my
aunt/father’s sister) £5 benefit on her (my grandmother’s) death. She
lived to age 94 (died 1974) so I guess the grant didn’t pay for
much. The other attachment (nothing to do with the subject) is
from the Museum Street church magazine The Myrtle for 1934. Amongst the
advertising was one placed by my grandfather for his shop which was at
nos. 45 and 45a St Nicholas Street – once separate from, then reunited
with Curson Lodge. He ran the business
from around 1930 to 1947. Isn’t life (and, of course, Ipswich
Lettering) interesting?" Thanks to
John for this interesting piece of ephemera. See our Curson Lodge page for the image of the
Barbrook press advertisement.
'Rechabites': The Independent Order of Rechabites (IOR), also known as
the Sons and Daughters of Rechab, is a friendly society founded in
England in 1835 as part of the wider British temperance movement to
promote total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. Always well
connected in upper society and involved in financial matters, it
gradually transformed into a financial institution which still exists,
and still promotes abstinence. The rituals and ceremonies of the
Rechabites varied from place to place, but the order worked three
degrees, Knight of Temperance, Knight of Fortitude, and Covenanted
Knight of Justice (the receipt shown above is signed by J.S. Clarkson:
'Chief Ruler'). Lodges were called 'tents' because the Lord commanded
the Biblical sons of Rechab to live in tents; the governing body, in
England at least, was called the Movable Committee, meeting in a
different city every two years. Membership was open to all who would
sign a pledge to completely abstain from alcohol for all religious or
medical purposes. There were also death and sickness benefits.]
The Great Eastern Hotel
[UPDATE 7.1.2015: "I came
across your web site today while doing a Google search for Croft Street
and the two adjacent pubs. My uncle, Jack Anderson, ran the Great
Eastern for a few years during the 1970s. I spent from April 1974 to
February 1975 in Ipswich staying in the Great Eastern and paying for my
keep by working for Jack and Freda, a great experience for a 23 year
old from the other side of the world! (Brisbane, Australia).
I did a Google Maps search this morning and was glad to
see that the Great Eastern is still there, almost as it was when I left
in February 1975 to return home. I could not remember the name of the
pub across the road, only that it was a Tolly Cobbold house while the
Great Eastern was a Watneys house. A further search this afternoon led
me eventually to your site and the photographs of the E.U.R. Then the
memories returned! Both pubs had their loyal customers and I did not
have an ale in the E.U.R. all the time I was there! Jack (my uncle) was
very particular about keeping his beer lines clean and used to make
comments about some of the other houses in Ipswich having less than
clean pipes and cloudy beer!
Unfortunately I can only find two photographs I took of the
Eastern so far [see below]. One is of both my uncles and the dog
on the front step with only the pub door and a bit of Croft Street
running uphill in the background. The other is of one of the
regular's bicycle hanging from some steel pegs high up the back(yard)
wall of the Eastern. He was only a short bloke and was the subject of
some trickery by his mates after the pub closed around 2.00pm. (Two
separate sessions then).
Good memories and an interesting web site. Thanks
and regards, Ian Childs." Many
thanks to Ian for these vivid recollectons and images.]
Above left [captions by Ian Childs]:
Jack Anderson (G.E.H. publican, the well dresed one), "Scottie" and
Charlie Anderson, Jack's brother, taken on the front step of the G.E.H.
with Croft street uphill in the background around May 1974.
Above right: "Little Dave's" bike hanging from the back wall of the
G.E.H. after 2:00pm. closing, taken later in 1974. Of interest is
the pattern of bolts above and beside the one the bike is suspended
from. Looks like a large sign may have been there at one time?
courtesy Ian Childs
The G.E.H. May 1975, photographed by my mother. (My two sisters and I
conspired to send her on a holiday, her first visit back to the U.K.
since emigrating in 1948). Unfortunately the slide has deteriorated, I
included it as it shows the pub sign with the "Great Eastern" steamship
on it. A story there as well?...
This public house has been known as The Albert and The Royal Albert,
before becoming The Great Eastern around 1865. It closed in 1996. The
Great Eastern Railway was formed in 1862 by amalgamation of the Eastern
Counties Railway with smaller railways: the Norfolk Railway, the
Eastern Union Railway, the Newmarket and Chesterford Railway, the East
Norfolk Railway, the Harwich Railway, the East Anglian Railway and the
East Suffolk Railway among others. [Additional information from Suffolk
CAMRA, see Links.]
However, the pub sign seen above shows the steamship, the SS Great
Eastern which was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard
Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on
the River Thames. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the
time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers
from England to Australia without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet
was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705 foot 17,274 gross-ton RMS
Oceanic, and her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by
the 701 foot 21,035 gross-ton RMS Celtic. With five funnels (later
reduced to four), she was one of a very few vessels to ever sport that
Brunel knew her affectionately as the "Great Babe". He died in 1859
shortly after her ill-fated maiden voyage, during which she was damaged
by an explosion. After repairs, she plied for several years as a
passenger liner between Britain and North America before being
converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting
transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. Finishing her life as a floating
music hall and advertising hoarding (for the famous department store
Lewis's) in Liverpool, she was broken up in 1889.
We're delighted to include here the text of a 2013 article by John
Norman, Chair of the Ipswich Society:-
"Ipswich Railway Tunnel
Perhaps not the best way to start a new appointment but Peter Bruff had
just been sacked from the Eastern Counties Railway for the poor
management of the contractor employed to build the embankment at
Stanway when he was appointed by the Directors of the Eastern Union
Railway. The year was 1842 and railway mania was sweeping the county,
new companies were being set up, Acts of Parliament passed and new
communication routes created.
The Eastern Union Railway was formed because the ECR had run out of
money, having built a line from London to Colchester the ECR
couldn’t raise further funds to complete the route to Ipswich
(or, as was originally planned, Norwich).
The EUR was a company formed by John Cobbold and his Ipswich friends,
financed by money raised in the town (as opposed to London for the ECR)
and the railway was an essential component in the creation of
Ipswich’s Wet Dock (without a railway for onward transportation
the Wet Dock would not reach its full potential).
Thus Bruff, the experienced Engineer surveyed, designed and oversaw the
construction of the line from Colchester to Croft Street where
Ipswich’s first railway station was built. The line
couldn’t progress any further, the wide and shallow Orwell with
numerous tall ships was in the way and following the west bank was nigh
impossible as the 100 feet high Stoke Hill dropped steeply into the
river at Stoke Bridge. The windmills and St Mary’s Church
obstructed the possibility of a cutting.
If the railway was to progress to Bury St Edmunds and Norwich however
the problem of the obstruction of Stoke Hill needed to be solved.
It is suspected that Bruff had always intended to tunnel under the
hill, some of his original plans indicate a tunnel almost 600 yards
long but an innovative solution reduced the actual length built to 360
The tunnel was constructed on a sharp continuous curve, possibly the
first railway tunnel anywhere in the world to be so built. It was
dug through crag and sand, materials that literally ran with water;
progress was slow and occupied much of Bruff’s time. During
the excavation of the tunnel both rhinoceros and woolly mammoth fossils
were discovered (now in Ipswich Museum), the site was named
‘Stoke Stone Beds’ and contributed to the understanding of
climate change during the Ice Age.
In 1860 a new station north of the tunnel was opened and a new access
road and bridge (Princes Street) led directly to the town centre.
John Cobbold and his fellow directors continued to finance railway
construction with a line to Bury St Edmunds with a junction at Haughley
and a line due north to Norwich Victoria.
The Great Eastern main line was electrified to Norwich in 1986 and the
track bed through the tunnel lowered to accommodate 9’ 6”
high containers in 2004. Today the tunnel under the hill at Stoke
carries the Great Eastern Main Line and is busy with both passenger and
Peter Bruff went on to design and oversee the construction of the
sewage system for Ipswich and the master planning of Clacton on Sea."
Steam ship services to Ipswich
The Ipswich Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1824-1825 during a
period of 'steamship mania'. It started a steamer service between
Ipswich and London calling at Walton-on-the-Naze.
The Woolwich Steam Packet Company, later the London Steamship Company,
operated an excursion steamer service between Ipswich and London from
before 1871 until 1887; in 1878 one of their ships, the SS Princess Alice sank with the
loss of some 700 lives while on an excursion in the Thames estuary.
Following the collapse of the London Steamship Company in 1887 the
London, Woolwich & Clacton-on-Sea Steamboat Company was formed
offering services between London and Clacton; an additional service to
Ipswich started in about 1893. The Woolwich Belle acted as a feeder
service between Ipswich and Clacton from where the London service
operated. After two changes of ownership and ambitious development of
both steamer and on-land leisure facilities offering attractions and
services at Walton-on-the-Naze, Felixstowe, Southwold and Great
Yarmouth the company was wound up in 1905.
From1895 to 1930 the Great Eastern Railway Company ran three paddle
steamers to Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich New Cut: the Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. Passengers embarked at the
Steamboat Tavern end of Felaw Street
and the booking office was in Purplett Street
[information from Twinch, C. Ipswich
street by street, see Reading list].
At a time when 'joined up' is a phrase applied (but
seldom achieved) to today's government and public
services, perhaps we can look at a drawing together of the means of
transport methods in the late 19th century. Regular steamship services
to New Cut, or Stoke Quay, were linked to public transport into the
town; trams ran from Stoke Bridge round to Burrell Road and the railway
station, with an additional short spur from Wherstead Road down Bath
Street to Griffin Wharf on the west bank of the Orwell intended to
convey passengers between the railway station and the quay where Great
Eastern Railway paddle steamers embarked for trips down the River
Orwell to Felixstowe and elsewhere. Until 1860, Ipswich Station was a
walk away in Croft Street.
See a few more comments on the railway relating to Arch
Cottage on our Bourne
Please email any comments
and contributions by clicking here.
throughout the Ipswich Signs and
Lettering sites: Borin Van Loon
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