Bourne Park / Ransomes & Rapier / Bourne Bridge / Stoke Park Mansion

These 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 Drive.

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 side.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 1Photographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan
The inscription at the bottom (below the crest) reads:
'THIS TABLET IS ADDED TO THE MEMORIAL AS
A TOKEN FROM THEIR FELLOW WORKERS.'
The main text of the memorial is shown next to the photograph of the weather-worn plate:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 2-Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 3

Here are some more from the same memorial, side 2.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 6
Again the weathered metal plate and the full text beside it:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 5   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 8a
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 7
The metal plaque at the bottom reads as follows:
'CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
MRS ANTHONY                    S. CORNISH
C.F. CRIPPS                             H.L. JUDD
 E. QUINTON                           H. ROBERTS
P.N SHARPE                           O. MAYES
       F. WHITING                            W.W. SEARLEY'

Kirby Cottage
(Nathaniel Kirby)
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.' (M'OD) [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.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 10
[UPDATE 14.12.2012: a long shot of Kirby Cottage (which is listed as 'Lonsdale Cottage' with its listed building crest.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Kirby Cottage   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Kirby Cottage 32012 images
The Listing text for 'Lonsdale Cottage reads: "A red brick 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 of the 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 stone]:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 9
"THESE 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:
'CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR
OF
RANSOMES & RAPIER LIMITED
1927 - 1957
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR IPSWICH
1938 - 1957
HIS MAJESTY'S MINISTER OF WORKS
1950 - 1951
PRIVY COUNCILLOR
1950 - 1957
LORD PRIVY SEAL & MINISTER OF MATERIALS
1951' "(M'OD)
So where did these memorials come from?...

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, I 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 factory needed photographing!' We are very grateful to Steve for these fascinating photographs.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 1
Photographs courtesy Steve Girling
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 above:
'CHAIRMAN & 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.’
"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." (SG)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 2
   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 3
Below: the tablets in place on the wall of the Ransomes & Rapier works canteen.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes canteen

"I have a high water level mark plate from Ransomes and 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 been 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 3

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)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 2
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 Rapier.
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 death.
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stokes & his gun
'...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.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: R.R. StokesMr 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 Bourne Park.'

'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)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes medal
'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. Paul, Prince Henry)
The two images below are on the gates at the entrance to the Bourne Park.
'BOURNE PARK...
THE GIFT OF ALDERMAN W.F. PAUL'
'BOURNE PARK...
OPENED BY H.R.H. PRINCE HENRY OCTOBER 7TH 1927'
'The Prince 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 site keeps getting better. It's a marvellous record of the town. '(M'OD)
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 4Photographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan
Grateful 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
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch Cottage2013 images
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'. 
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 3
The impressive arch which allows public access
through the 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 – arrived?
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 1

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).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park periodPostcard 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'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park map
Opposite the Stoke Park Drive entrance to Bourne Park is the small Stoke Park Wood Local Nature Reserve:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park site
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 Listing text]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Willoughby Road street sign2016 image
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 was that 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”. “This estate, 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 Nobl
e Mansion Standing in a Beautifully Timbered Park ...']
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park signThe 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.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park 3

Bourne Bridge
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 writes (3 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:

BOROUGH                                                                COUNTY
OF                                                                               OF
IPSWICH                                                                   SUFFOLK

BRIDGE  WIDENED 1891
BY THE COUNTY AND BOROUGH AND BY
PRIVATE SUBSCRIPTION
OPENED OCT 29 BY
ALDERMAN NATHANIEL CATCHPOLE
ALDERMAN OF JOINT COMMITTEE"
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge2011 photograph courtesy: Mike O'Donovan
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 22016 images
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'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 3
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).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 5
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 foreground; in the opposite direction the rather more brutalist, canalised Bourne River fed by Belstead Brook beneath the southern, dualled part of Wherstead Road; this concrete bridge replaced the old Bourne Bridge (in the 1980s?).

Ostrich Terrace, 568-574 Wherstead Road
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich Terrace 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich Terrace 2
2016 images
'OSTRICH
TERRACE
1925'

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
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich period1963 photograph
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:
"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 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.



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