The Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society
2-16 Foxhall Road, 194-200 Back Hamlet
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 3
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 2
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 4
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 5
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 6
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 7
2014 images (100 years from the building of the last two examples and the outbreak of World War I)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: FLS Foxhall Rd 1  This run of house name plaques can be found at the junction of Foxhall Road and Back Hamlet. They read:
 'HIGHBURY VILLAS   F.L.S.   1915
 HOLLYHURST VILLAS   F.L.S.   1915
 BROOKLAND VILLAS   F.L.S.   1915
 INGLEWOOD VILLAS   F.L.S.   1915
 WESTBURY VILLAS   F.L.S.   1914
 PEMBROKE VILLAS   F.L.S.   1914' [interesting stylistic difference between the two years]

'F.L.S.' appears on a number of house name plaques throughout Ipswich and elsewhere. It stands for Freehold Land Society, shorthand for the organisation which, from Victorian times onwards, enabled 'ordinary people' to become freeholders for  the first time. See Christ's Hospital School, Tyler Street/Purplett Street, Cavendish Street, Named buildings pages for further examples. Plaques showing name, date and 'F.L.S.' were built into house frontages from the late 1880s. They indicate that the houses were actually built by the F.L.S., as distinct from land which was sold/allocated by the F.L.S. and housing built by the owners, as with the housing on the California estate.

Ipswich Building Society was formed in 1849 as the Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society, part of a national movement to create ‘forty shilling freeholders’ – giving the ordinary man the chance to buy enough land to entitle him to vote. The Society purchased large areas of land all over Suffolk, dividing it into smaller plots, or allotments, which were then – following a ballot – sold to members of the Society (mortgages were arranged by the Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society arm). Needless to say, business people and speculators bought up numbers of plots from some of those who were successful in the ballot, so that the best intentions of the Society were subverted.

The roots of the Freehold Land Society movement go back to James Taylor (1814-?) in Birmingham. Taylor, who promoted the movement around the midlands, explained the economic principle on which such a society works "Now then for a creed, which is simply this: buy land wholesale and sell it to the members retail at the wholesale price. This is the whole of our creed – the all-in-all of our operation. This is, in fact, the very essence of the Freehold Land scheme."

Lancaster Road is a short street running between Palmerston and Warwick Roads. It is of interest because the houses in it were the first to be built in Ipswich by the Freehold Land Society in 1866.
The terraced dwellings were described at the time as high quality, 2-bedroom, workman's houses.

After 1868 the Society also built a large number of houses and continued to ballot both plots of land, and houses, for purchase by its members until 1938. Large estates in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Lowestoft and many other small towns in Suffolk were developed between 1850 and 1938. In 1965 the Freehold Land Society was wound up, leaving the Ipswich & Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society. In 1969 this was shortened to Ipswich & Suffolk Building Society, and the name changed again in 1975 when Ipswich & Suffolk amalgamated with the Ipswich & District and, as part of the deal, agreed to lose the word 'Suffolk' – resulting in the Ipswich Building Society we know today.


This article from the Ipswich Star (Monday, April 27, 2009) gives more information about the organisation. [We have made a small addition and placed the developments in date order.]
'Have you ever wanted to discover the history of your home?
Well thanks to records collated by one woman over 20 years, amateur historians will now have the chance to find out more about the buildings in which we live. James Marston reports.

It is a collection that was always intended to be loaned to Suffolk Record Office. And for Margaret Hancock the historic records of the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society have been a passion that has lasted two decades.
She said: “We started 20 years ago when the Ipswich Building Society decided to employ an archivist. The archives were found then in a couple of tin trunks in the society's head office in Dogs Head Street. No one knew what to do with them but someone realised they should be kept.”

The archives, now indexed and catalogued by Margaret are to go on permanent loan to the Suffolk Record Office in Gatacre Lane, Ipswich. Margaret said: “I've spent the last 20 years working on cataloguing most of the collection. It is an important archive to the local area. “It contains a mass of documents, plans that chart the history of Ipswich, Felixstowe and Lowestoft and the role the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Society played.”
The Society was set up in the 1840s after a change in the law introduced the 40 shilling franchise.

Margaret said: “The franchise meant that if you owned property valued at 40 shillings or more you could have the vote. People were encouraged to own their own property in order to be able to exercise the franchise. “The Society bought up large estates and tracts of land and divided it into plots that were big enough to qualify for the franchise and the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society was one of the most successful in country.”

Estates built by the Society include roads and areas of which many still exist in Ipswich and other towns today.
They include:

Ipswich
California (Cauldwell Hall Estate) 1850
Sidegate Lane - 1872
Cemetery Road - 1875
Christchurch Street - 1875
Bramford Road - 1877-1881
Derby Road - 1878-1879
Felixstowe Road estates - 1880
Palmerston Road - 1880
Westbourne estate - 1880
Broom Hill Road - 1903 -1910
Stoke Hall Road - 1915-1927
Nacton Road - 1920-1924
Roundwood estate - 1924

Other towns
Hadleigh - 1854/1860
Stowmarket - 1856/1879
Melton - The Hackneys - 1865
Lowestoft - Beccles Road - 1867
Woodbridge - Mill Hill - 1867
Walton - Feathers Field - 1869
Framlingham Cottage Hill Estate - 1873
Felixstowe Gainsborough Road - 1884
Felixstowe Bath Road - 1889

534 FLS properties were built in Ipswich between 1868-1900; 484 (90%) of these properties remain in 2016.


The Society carried on allocating plots of land to members right up until the 1930s with the Shafto Road area of Ipswich being one of the last developed in 1933. Margaret said the huge popularity of the schemes led to oversubscription and a ballot system was introduced. She said: “In some ballots there were 40 plots with as many as 1,000 people in the ballot. Once you had got a plot you had the right to buy the house and the money was advanced by the Ipswich and Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society in much the same way as a mortgage today.”

The records now loaned to the Suffolk Record Office also include the ballots, minutes of the official business of the society, mortgage documents, a number of pass books, marketing and publicity material including posters, advertising material, photographs and papers relating to official histories, the deeds of the land and estates bought by the Society – some of which date back to the 1600s – architectural plans for houses, more than 300 bundles of title deeds, 300 sets of plans of the roads and plots. Margaret said: “The majority of the archive is coming to the Record Office but there are some things that have to be catalogued so my work isn't finished yet.” The collection now on loan is due to be made available to the public later this year. It will be stored in the Suffolk Record Office's temperature and humidity controlled strong rooms. Margaret said: “It is hugely exciting to see the collection being made available to the public for the first time. For me it's like watching your child go off to university.”

Suffolk Record Office public service archivist Louise Clarke said: “This is an invaluable collection. It charts the development of a number of Suffolk towns and provides a fascinating insight into social and economic history. The collection will be an important resource for people who are researching the history of their homes and it contains a wealth of information that we simply haven't had available previously."

Ipswich Building Society started as the Ipswich and Suffolk Freehold Land Society founded in December 1849, and registered as Ipswich and Suffolk Permanent Benefit Building Society in 1886. In 1968 it changed its name to Ipswich & Suffolk Building Society, before merging in 1975 with Ipswich & District Building Society to become Ipswich Building Society. The Freehold Land Society was responsible for the development of a number of areas in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Stowmarket and Framlingham. They enabled local people to save to buy plots of land which were then allocated by ballot.

Ipswich Building Society is the only society in the UK to employ an archivist. At Suffolk Record Office some documents date back to the 12th century.'

[http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/features_2_511/track_your_house_through_time_1_171887]

See also several F.L.S. name plaques on our Bramford Road;
Felixstowe Road F.L.S. houses; Schreiber/Phoenix Roads; Cauldwell Hall Road has surviving examples of the earliest F.L.S. flint and brick-built houses.


Related pages:
California;
Margaret Hancock's research on the history of the Rosehill area;
House name plaque examples: Alston Road; Bramford Road; Cauldwell Hall Road; Cavendish Street; Marlborough Road; Rosehill area;
Street index; Origins of street names in Ipswich; Streets named after slavery abolitionists.
Dated buildings list; Dated buildings examples;
Named buildings listNamed (& sometimes dated) buildings examples.
Street nameplate examples;
Brickyards




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