The Eastern Union Railway

Station Street
The street nameplate at the junction with Wherstead Road.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Station St sign 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Station St sign 22014 images
The story 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 Station Street (note the cast iron street sign above in good fettle with its superior 't') close to the corner with the southernmost part of Rectory Road:
'IPSWICH LOCO MEN'S
CLUB & INSTITUTE'
Serif'd italic capitals are picked out in black paint against a 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 train sign.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 1 Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 2z
This site is only a few yards away from the Nethaniah Home For The Aged and at the other end of Rectory Road, 'Norfolk House'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 1a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 1b2014 images
[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.]

Croft Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Croft St sign2014 image
Above: decaying street sign at the top of Croft Street sign nameplate.
Follow that 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
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 1990sCourtesy Ipswich Society 
Above left: CAMRA's excellent Suffolk Real Ale Guide (see Links) is 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).
pswich Historic Lettering: EUR windowPhoto 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 building.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 4
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 at 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 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old stationIpswich's first station
This is thought to be the earliest tunnel
in the country to be built on a sharp continous curve, 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 Belstead 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 below 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 derivations.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR GER periodimages 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 establishment. These have been removed now that it's a residence.
[UPDATE 27.12.2013: John Bulow-Osborne writes:
"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 early thirties."]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR Bogey 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR Bogey 2
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 WHISKY';
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Barbrook RechabitesImage courtesy John Barbrook
'No. 42
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF RECHABITES,
SALFORD UNITY,     ...     FRIENDLY SOCIETY.
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.]

Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 2007<2007  Ipswich Historic Lettering: EUR 2011<2011

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 (Scottie) sitting 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.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Great Eastern 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Great Eastern 2
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? Enamelled perhaps?
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Great Eastern 3Photographs 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 number.

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 yards.

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 freight traffic.

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 Park page.


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