Park / Ransomes
& Rapier / Bourne
Bridge / Stoke Park Mansion
contributions about the park memorials come from Mike O'Donovan (M'OD),
summer 2010, with his own
emailed commentary. They are supplemented by images and memories from
Steve Girling (SG). Bourne Park lies away from the town centre
with main entrances at the end of Wherstead Road and on Stoke Park
The War Memorial
'Here is a set of photos showing the memorial at Bourne Park. It has
three sides and the photos show one side and the inscriptions on that
inscription at the bottom (below the crest) reads:
'THIS TABLET IS ADDED TO THE MEMORIAL AS
A TOKEN FROM THEIR FELLOW WORKERS.'
text of the memorial is shown next to the
photograph of the weather-worn plate:
some more from the same memorial, side 2.
weathered metal plate and the full text
plaque at the bottom reads as follows:
Kirby Cottage (Nathaniel
As a matter
of interest one of those listed in the
first World War I list is Pte. Nathaniel Kirby, 4th Battalion Suffolk
Regiment. The reason I mention that is because there is a building at
the bottom of Belstead Road with a wooden plaque and the words 'Kirby
Cottage' on it and around the corner it's got a listed house sign.'
[Toiling up Belstead Road hill away from Stoke Bridge, cast a glance at
Kirby Cottage and it's from a different generation from the surrounding
houses and sits differently in relation to the roadway; compare with
the house called 'Chimneys' on the same side near the top of the hill.]
[UPDATE 14.12.2012: a long shot
of Kirby Cottage (which is listed as 'Lonsdale Cottage'
with its listed building crest.]
The Listing text for 'Lonsdale Cottage reads: "A
building with late C18 or early C19 external features, possibly with an
earlier core. It stands at right angles to the road and is gabled and
plastered on the road frontage. The east front, to the garden, has
double-hung sash windows in flush cased frames with segmental heads.
The south end has 1 window range of C20 casements. Roof tiled, with 2
gabled half dormers and 2 chimney stacks, each with 3 diagonally set
shafts." Kirby Cottage runs at right angles away from Belstead Road and
is parallel and close to the stables building and Listed vaults
long-demolished Stoke Hall. It is most
likely that this cottage was part of the 18th century Stoke Hall and
was used as servants' quarters.
"These are the last from the monument [the statement carved into the
MEMORIALS WERE REMOVED
FROM THE FORMER
RANSOMES & RAPIER
WATERSIDE WORKS CANTEEN UPON
THE CLOSURE OF THE COMPANIES [sic]
MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN 1988"
Surprising really that
there is such a lot of history involved which is practically unknown to
many people. Sadly, the name of the individual mentioned on the plaque
has been removed as you can see from the statement at the bottom.
However, the person mentioned is Richard Stokes (1897 - 1957). His
mother's family was involved in the engineering firm Ransomes &
Rapier and he was a Labour MP. The metal plaque
reads as follows:
& MANAGING DIRECTOR
So where did these memorials come from?...
RANSOMES & RAPIER LIMITED
1927 - 1957
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR IPSWICH
1938 - 1957
HIS MAJESTY'S MINISTER OF WORKS
1950 - 1951
1950 - 1957
LORD PRIVY SEAL & MINISTER OF MATERIALS
Ransomes & Rapier memorials
Richard Rapier Stokes
Contributions from Steve Girling: 'I worked at
Ransomes & Rapier in the Maintenance Dept.
I started my
apprenticeship there in 1980 and was made redundant in late 1986.
For some reason when I was working during the summer shutdown of 1985,
went round the factory and took some pictures of the plant etc.
(unfortunately I didn't get a photograph of everywhere). I have given a
copy of these photos to Elizabeth Scott Townsend ( who is a descendant
of R C Rapier one of the founders of the firm ) and who organises the
annual reunions. I also gave permission for a copy of them to be given
to the Ipswich Transport Museum for their "Engineering in Ipswich"
section. It seems that I must have had a feeling that some of the
needed photographing!' We are very
grateful to Steve for these fascinating photographs.
courtesy Steve Girling
"Please find attached some photos of the Ransomes & Rapier
war memorial tablets which are now in Bourne Park, the photos were
taken in the mid eighties when the tablets were in their original
position on the wall of the works canteen facing the bowling green."
First, the memorial to Richard
Rapier Stokes as it was originally mounted. The roundel contains the
name and dates. His uncle, Sir Wilfrid Scott Stokes,
was the inventor of the Stokes mortar (see below).
‘RICHARD RAPIER STOKES (1897-1957)
[followed, on the rectangular plate by the text as shown
& MANAGING DIRECTOR etc.']
on the stone panel below is carved:
‘RAPIER CANTEEN… [unreadable]’
and on the brickwork below that (painted in black characters):
‘A.S.S. R.S.L. N.F.D.
S.M.C. W.J.B. H.N.
H.C.H. A.P. E.L.M.
M.R.K. C.T. A.R.K.’
Below: the tablets in place on the wall of the Ransomes & Rapier
"I have a high water level mark plate from
Rapier, it was on the 'gate house' along Rapier St, you had to cross
Rapier St to get to the Packing Shop Dept.; unfortunately I never
measured the height of it on the wall but from memory it would have
18 inches to 2 ft high, I assume it would of been cast in the works
foundry and I think there were a couple more around the factory. I have
since mounted it on a piece of wood.
The Stokes Mortar (Sir Wilfrid Scott Stokes)
... Two pictures (sorry, they're blurry – they are copied
from a slide) taken in the mid-eighties before the R&R factory was
demolished, I assume the plaque was 'lost' in the demolition, the
plaque was on a wall in the Hydraulic Bay at the Wherstead Rd end of
the Top Shop Dept." (SG)
From Grace's Guide (see Links):
'Sir (Frederick) Wilfrid Scott Stokes (1860-1927), civil engineer and
inventor of the Stokes gun, and managing director of Ransomes and
1885 Joined Ransomes and Rapier of Ipswich as assistant to Richard
Christopher Rapier, the managing director.
1907 became chairman of the company, holding both top offices until his
WWI [World War I] Designed the Stokes gun [or Stokes mortar] in
response to the army's need for a lightweight, portable mortar. It was
rejected by the War Office in December 1914 because many shells missed
their targets, but the gun was subsequently used in the trenches at the
battle of Loos in September 1915, firing smoke shells.
1915 Stokes was one of the scientists and engineers involved in the
munitions invention department.'
The Stokes mortar remained in service into the World War II, when it
was superceded by the Ordnance ML 3 inch mortar, and some remained in
use by New Zealand forces until after the Second World War.
'...some photos I have taken from a book celebrating the first 80 years
of Ransomes & Rapier [80 years of
enterprise 1869-1949] from
which you may get some helpful info.'
Mr R.R. Stokes, M.A., M.P.
R.R. Stokes became Managing Director of Ransomes & Rapier in
1927 and was MP for Ipswich from 1938 (later Minister of Works and a
Privy Councillor) ... 'who is named on the memorial tablet now in
'Thought you may be interested in this silver medallion given for war
work at Ransomes & Rapier; it was issued unnamed. I have got 2 of
these in my collection.' (SG)
'1918 / IN RECOGNITION OF
WAR WORK DONE AT MESSRS. RANSOMES & RAPIER LTD.'
The hallmarks on the reverse (including the silversmiths:
'W&S') indicates that this is a medal containing silver which meets
the sterling standard of purity: the Lion Passant. The
obverse side features the Ipswich coat of arms
and the date.
The park gates (Alderman W.F.
two images below are on the
gates at the entrance to the Bourne Park.
Henry mentioned was one of the sons of King
George V and was born in 1900 and died in 1974. He was one of the
present Queen's uncles. As a matter of interest he and his wife appear
on a 1945 Australian postage stamp. By the way, the Ipswich Lettering
getting better. It's a marvellous record of the town. '(M'OD)
THE GIFT OF ALDERMAN W.F. PAUL'
OPENED BY H.R.H. PRINCE HENRY OCTOBER 7TH
See our page on More almshouses for
more about the W.F.
Paul Tenement Trust. See our Paul's malting page for the story of the
company and its importance to Ipswich.
thanks to Mike O'Donovan for these examples
and the background detail. An anecdotal addition: the garish yellow of
the cast iron gate memorials above seem to sum up the current state of
Bourne Park: a bit run down. In cycling down the whole length of
Constitution Avenue, as we discover it's called, from Stoke Park Drive
(see note below) to the Wherstead Road entrance, one finds a pleasant
public park – with
good children's play area – bordered by housing, scrubland, Belstead
Brook, a main road
and a railway line. A bit depressing, those boarded-up wrecks of
buildings at the Wherstead Road entrance. They ought to get someone to
live in the corner one with the clock (get it to tell the right
time...) and sell ice creams and teas from the smaller one.
The Arch / Arch Cottage
Down to Arch Cottage and the gentleman who lives there was very
forthcoming. His cottage was built in the 1700s, when it must have
stood in open land with a view of the river at Bourne Bridge (see
below). This, of course, was long before the nearby
embanked railway (initially the Eastern Union
Railway in 1846,
terminating in Station Street near Croft Street until the station moved
to its present site in 1860) and
had two acres of land including the current caravan site. While this
gentleman was in the RAF, his father sold the adjacent front lawn to
his brother who built a house on the site: Meadow Bank Cottage (visible
through the arch, below). He was
obviously born and bred there as he remembers the steam trains going
by. He loves trains: 'You can set your watch by them'.
impressive arch which allows public access through
embankment to the park (and, of
course, the two cottages) is worth a look. It bears a stencilled number
as with so many railway bridges around
the town. But what was Arch Cottage
called during the many years before the railway – and the arch
See more details on the railway and Stoke Tunnel
on our EUR, Croft Street page.
Stoke Park (home of Peter
Burrell: Lord Gwydyr)
The name "Stoke Park" can be
confusing: in the early 1900s it
was a large estate and the home of Peter
Burrell who became Lord Gwydyr in 1870, County
Magistrate and High Steward of Ipswich (see our Street
name derivations entry for Burrell Road).
of Stoke Park, 1914
An 1885 directory describes Stoke Park – not to be confused with Stoke Hall
mentioned above – as a handsome mansion in a well-wooded park of 500
acres, commanding beautiful views of the river. It was the private
house of Lord Gwydyr, but was a favourite place (presumably the
parkland?) for Sunday School treats and children's outings. It was
demolished in 1930 but some of the mature trees apparently still stand
on the Stoke Park housing estate around the Bourne Park area to the
west of the Orwell. The map below gives some idea of the house and its
surroundings, including 'Icehouse Covert'.
Opposite the Stoke Park Drive entrance to Bourne Park is the small
Stoke Park Wood Local Nature Reserve:
Now an area of woodland, scrub &
wildflower grassland, it had originally been the location of Stoke Park
Mansion. Although an earlier house had existed here, the last mansion
was built in 1838 by Peter Burrell. In the early 20th century this
estate was twice subject to death duties and these events and the lack
of an immediate heir may have been the primary reasons why the estate
was broken up.*** The mansion was demolished in the 1920s, & no
trace of it now remains. However, there is: "Round Lodge, Lodge to
Stoke Hall (demolished). c1820. Roughcast and whitewashed brick;
thatched roof. Circular plan. One storey. NE side with a timber
verandah supported on cast-iron compound lattice piers. Wide eaves
under conical roof with a central hexagonal chimney. Pointed-arched
doorway to south, externally planked, internally with intersecting
Y-tracery. Four 2-light Y-traceried casements at intervals round
circumference, that to south-west replaced C20. Interior: dished
plastered ceiling. Central fireplace and free-standing flue." [Grade II
Willoughby Road commemorates the son of Peter Burrell, later Lord
Gwydyr; Burrell supervised
the layout of the roads east of the railway station.
[***To get an idea of the size of the estate: 'The first death
of the near centenarian “Peter Robert Lord Gwydyr who died on the 3rd
April 1909”. He was born 27th April 1810 and inherited the estate on
the death of his father in 1848 “nearly a quarter of a century before
he succeeded to the peerage, on the death of his cousin, in 1870”. He
is credited with the transformation of Stoke. “During the 60 years (or
thereabouts) Baron Gwydyr held the Stoke Park estate the whole district
has been literally transformed ... First he undertook the rebuilding of
the mansion and the remodelling of the really charming gardens and
grounds, this involving expenditure of about £60,000”. Also “the
opening of two fine roads leading to the Railway Station – Willoughby
Road [see above image] and Burrell Road – were due to his initiative”.
which lies just above the Railway Station, has now been partially
covered with residences abutting upon roads called Ancaster, Gesteven
and Gippeswyk – names which blend the ancient titles of the family with
ancient Ipswich” (ref. Obituary East Anglian Daily Times 5th April
1909). His successor was Willoughby Merrik William Campbell Burrell the
last Baron Gwydyr who died without an heir on 13th April 1915. His
mother had been Sophia Campbell whose father had owned Birkfield Lodge.
Following the death of the last baron Gwydyr the estate was offered for
sale on 4th July 1918 “By Order of the late Lord Gwydyr’s Executrix”.
Apart from the park of 300 acres, the lands included Mill House,
Belstead, Stone Lodge in Stoke, Gippeswyk Hall, and six farms; The
Home, Maiden Hall, Gippeswyk, Hill House in Sproughton, Gusford Hall,
and Crane Hill. This site was offered for sale as part of Lot 1 the
“Freehold and small part Copyhold Residential and Sporting Estate
distinguished as Stoke Park ... comprising of A Noble Mansion Standing
in a Beautifully Timbered Park ...']
The nature reserve sign
The sign reads:
'HISTORY OF THE AREA
Stoke Park Wood Local Nature Reserve was once part of the much more
extensive Stoke Park Estate, centred around the mansion, which was
located about 150 metres to the North of this sign.
The wooded part of the Reserve was formerly known as "Fishpond Covert"
which reveals its function for the estate. The large fish stock pond
(now lost beneath Stoke Park Drive, St Peter's Church and the Scout
Hut) would have provided fresh fish for the house. The covert (planted
woodland) was designed specifically to provide shelter and ideal food
for pheasants and other game birds, again providing a source of fresh
food. This area could be seen as a 'living larder' for the house!
Corporation Avenue, which runs across Bourne Park, follows the route of
the main drive to the old house and continues across this Reserve as
the main path. The trees along the Avenue were planted in 1927 at the
opening of the Park. Bourne Park itself was given to the people of
Ipswich by Alderman (Councillor) William Paul to meet the increasing
need for space for recreation.'
Close to the Bourne Park entrance is the original Bourne Bridge, now
by-passed and only open to pedestrian and cycle traffic. Mike O'Donovan
April 2011): "You may find the attached photo of interest. It's of a
plaque on Bourne Bridge. The words are now very weather worn, and it's
another interesting item of Ipswich history. The inscription reads:
BRIDGE WIDENED 1891
BY THE COUNTY AND BOROUGH AND BY
OPENED OCT 29 BY
ALDERMAN NATHANIEL CATCHPOLE
ALDERMAN OF JOINT COMMITTEE"
"Ipswich, the county Town of Suffolk, and the Port
itself, is spread out with the Ostrich public house by Bourne Bridge
marking the boundary. The Ostrich is four centuries old and named
after part of the crest of the Earls of Leicester who once owned the
land on which is stands. It is also said the name ~Ostrich~ was a
mistake caused by a drunken landlord whose slurred speech resulted in
the sign writer mis-understanding his orders for the sign to be painted
~The Oyster Reach."
The 1891 stonework is eroding but is still just ab out readable; the
shields bear the arms of the town (lion
rampant and three ships' sterns) and the castle seen on County Hall where it surmounts a scroll
bearing the word 'SUFFOLK'.
Above: the old Bourne Bridge with its rectangular niches viewed from
the Wherstead Road end – the 1891
stone tablet can be seen just past the bicycle in the left wall. In the
background, centre left, is The Ostrich public house (see below).
Above: the views from one of the niches in the bridge over the Bourne
River where it joins the River Orwell (labelled 'Ostrich
Creek' on some maps) with Canada Geese in the
in the opposite direction the
rather more brutalist, canalised Bourne River fed by Belstead Brook
beneath the southern, dualled
Wherstead Road; this concrete bridge replaced the old Bourne Bridge (in
Ostrich Terrace, 568-574 Wherstead Road
on the four houses facing the
Bourne End Convenience Store echoes the 'original' name of the
Wherstead public house across the old bridge.
The Ostrich public house
Bourne bridge marks the boundary of Wherstead
parish. Near the bridge, on the Wherstead side, stands the
Ostrich Inn, as it stood at the time of the New England
migration. In those days, however, oysters were still found in
Orwell waters, and the name 'Oyster Ridge' had not been corrupted to
the name of the exotic bird whose effigy for many years adorned the
swinging signboard of the roadside tavern. It's instructive that when
this pub was bought and greatly extended in the nineteen nineties it
was renamed 'The Oyster Reach'.
Another source suggests:
The oldest part of the pub (adjacent to Bourne Hill) dates from the
16th or 17th century, though it has been much altered and added to.
According to Alfred Hedges' book, "Inns and Inn Signs of Norfolk and
Suffolk", the inn has been in existence since 1612. 'The Ostrich' is
Listed Grade II, despite some heavy modern additions and alterations.
[UPDATE 16.9.2015: "The Ostrich
at Bourne Bridge, WAS a corruption of Oyster Reach (try saying it in a
heavy Suffolk accent) as there were for many years oyster beds in this
area. 'Reach' meant an area of foreshore. My grandfather lived in the
cottages opposite the pub in the 1940s as a cowman, tending a herd on
the fields at Bourne Hill.
Unknowingly, in the 60s and 70s, I spent many summer holidays close
by, down at 'the basin' on Bourne Bridge, before it was filled in, it
was the summer meeting place (our private swimming pool – ha ha –
depending on the tide) for many of the children from Maidenhall, who
accessed it from the tracks at the ends of Halifax Road and Conway
Close that led through to Wherstead Rd and Bourne Park.
Hope this is of interest. Well done with the website. Mike"]
More park lettering: Alexandra Park, Christchurch
Park (and Mansion) and Chantry Park.
Please email any comments
and contributions by clicking here.
throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission