Atlas House
Britten and Bannister Limited

90 Woodbridge Road. (Listed as this number in several sources, although in 2016 the Horse & Groom next door, to the left, is numbered 104.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 32017 images
Although it bears little lettering, this handsome building is worthy of inclusion here from a local history point of view alone. The road surface and crumbling of kerb and pavement are testament to the heavy traffic which rumbles round this tight corner from Woodbridge Road to Argyle Street.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 1  
Above: the edge of the former Horse & Groom public house is at the far left, with the former A.E. Blasby timber yard at the far right, across Argyle Street.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 4
   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 5
Above: the west and south elevations of the building – those steel bollards are clearly needed to protect pedestrians from heavy vehicles rushing up from the town. Although the south-facing is the more 'workaday' aspect, the rear still bears the cream and red brick banding, with modern windows cut through for the apartments.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 7   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 2
Above: the decorative brickwork on the west aspect and the main doorway on the Woodbridge Road elevation.

What was it before conversion?
Barry Girling writes (26.3.2017):
'Hi Borin, I was hoping to have a small remnant for your site but, alas, it has not worked out. Apologies if you are aware, but a friend has recently informed me that Ipswich used to have a shoe manufactory and a very high-class one at that. They possessed a royal warrant, made shoes for ballerinas and famous film stars. The brand name was Miss Rayne London and Ipswich. I had no previous knowledge of this... Britten and Bannister was the local company which was located in the rather handsome building at the corner of Argyle Street and Woodbridge Road since converted into flats. It now bears the name Atlas House but I do not know if this was the original name. They used to have a large sign "Miss Rayne Shoes"over the front door facing Woodbridge Road. Sadly, there does not seem to be any clue left as to the former use. What a small world; the manager was a Mr Cross and my wife's late aunt and uncle met there many years ago!  Whether this is of any use to you I do not know, but thought it worthwhile to pass on.  Best, Barry Girling, Stutton.'
(Thanks to Barry for starting us off on this page.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House Miss Rayne 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House Miss Rayne 2Miss Rayne named shoes and brand logo

The three photographs below are courtesy the Ipswich Society Image Archive (see Links).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 1960s1960s image
Seen from across the road from the St Helen's Primary School, the first building in the 1960s view (above) is the hairdresser's with the corner doorway, later lettered "Mary's" above the shop windows. Although in heavy shade, we can see the Horse & Groom and beyond Atlas House (its modern name). The light-coloured notice seems to be right above the main doorway, so must be the
'Miss Rayne Shoes' sign referred to by Barry. There is also a tall chimney rising above the middle of the building, presumably because it was a works. It was removed during conversion to residential use, as seen below.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 1970s1970s image

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Atlas House 1990s1990s image by Tom Gondris
The 'former Atlas Works' is listed as dating from 1874, the builder: R. Girling. ‘Former Warehouse, now flats’ (in a Conservation Area).

A memory from Kindred Spirit (see Links):
'M. Last of Shafto Road, Ipswich, added “My great aunt Hilda Stanmore, lived on the corner of Little Wells Street, the front of her house was on Wells Street. “I was not very old at the time, but I remember a square of concrete with a wash house and I presume a toilet, when entering through the back door on the left was a stairs door, a coal hole and a pantry. “The facing door to front room with a Morrison air raid shelter taking up most of the room, with just enough space to walk to front door. A cooker range and sink completed the kitchen area. “In St Helens Street there was Minters Sweet Shop, you name it they sold it, a fish and chip shop on corner of Wells Street and Newsteads the bakers opposite. “We had the Olive Leaf public house and Elmey's paper shop on the corner of Grimwade Street. When I set up home we bought furniture from Gardiner's shop near the church. “Also near the church was the International grocery store. My mother lived in St David's Street, classed as the 'posher' area of the Potteries, they had three bedrooms. “My grandfather was a cobbler and the small room was used as a workshop, he was employed at Britten and Bannister Limited boot and shoe makers in Woodbridge Road with my mother.'
See our page on Palmerston Road for a 1902 map detail including Atlas House and Wells Street.


'At the western end, the conservation area starts at the junction with Argyle Street. To the corner is the brooding presence of an important townscape building marking the start of the conservation area in Woodbridge Road - Atlas Works, built in 1874 a former corset-stay factory and warehouse before being converted to flats in 1984. The red diapered brickwork within yellow stock brick panels and the corbelled red brickwork above the ground floor windows give the building a monumental appearance despite its relatively low scale and rising topography. It has an eleven window range to Woodbridge Road and these are contained mostly within swept arches with the exception of those adjacent to the main front doors where semi- circular arches are introduced and one pair of openings is supported on columns. Bands of red brickwork run between the windows. A simple spiked railing separates the building from a light- well to the semi-basements. A series of six large dormers (with a further dormer to Argyle Street) in slates covered with bitumen disguise an asymmetrical factory roof behind.’
St Helen’s Conservation Area, Appraisal & Management Plan, 2005(?)
Perhaps it was built as a corset factory – stay-making being a big industry in Ipswich – then it became a shoe-making works?

Planning approval (with conditions) was granted by Ipswich Borough Council on 22.1.1980: 'Change of use of second floor from warehousing to manufacturing workrooms'.


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