Park / Ransomes
& Rapier / Stoke Park Mansion / Bourne Bridge
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:
One of those listed in the
first World War I memorial is Pte. Nathaniel Kirby, 4th Battalion
Regiment. See our Stoke Hall Road page for a possible/disputed link to Stoke Hall and Kirby Cottage on Belstead
"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.
Ransomes & Rapier turntable at The
Nene Valley Railway, Cambridgeshire in May 2017
courtesy David Gaylard
Below: 'Another couple for your collection. Taken at Tyseley steam
depot open day, near Solihull. D.G.' The sleek mallard green paintwork
and British Railways transfer of the tender contrast with the
cartouche-cut cast iron branding plate, prominently sited on the
turntable railings by Ransomes & Rapier – here using the boxed
namestyle 'RAPIER'. The date of manufacture and even the British
Railways contract number are included. The Tyseley
steam museum doesn’t seek to over-restore the
paintwork, but leaves the plate showing its age.
courtesy David Gaylard
146 TONS MUNDT TURNTABLE.
CONTRACT NO. 1114 – M&E
RANSOMES & RAPIER LTD.
OR. G.J.4985 IPSWICH. ENGLAND.
The 1921 advertisement (below) from the excellent Grace's Guide
website (see Links) proudly displays the full
company name in stylish lettering, giving their London offices address.
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.
See our Island
site page for the Ransomes & Rapier lock swing-bridge.
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 Mansion (home of
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). We're calling the house
'Stoke Park Mansion'.
of Stoke Park, 1914
The small print (postcard?) below is attributed to 'F.B. Russel'
(F. Brett Russell?), published by 'Capone'. It shows 'STOKE PARK, NEAR
IPSWICH; THE RESIDENCE OF ROBERT BURRELL, ESQ.' Robert Burrell (Peter
Robert Burrell) occupied the mansion until 1909, so the depiction of
the house pre-dates his death.
Courtesy Francis Beaumont
An 1885 directory describes Stoke Park – not to be confused with
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'.
W.M. Roberts' book Lost country
houses of Suffolk (see Reading list)
gives a fascinating glimpse of this vanished mansion.
Stoke Park (demolished c. 1930)
Stoke Park stood to the south of the road from Ipswich to Belstead
village. It was in the parish of St Mary Stoke, which was in the
Liberties of Ipswich. It was described in 1918 as lying ‘upon an
acclivity rising from the Western bank of the River Orwell, and
commands exceedingly beautiful prospects of the scenery along the River
The manor of Stoke was held before the Reformation by the Abbey of Ely.
On the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed to the Dean and Chapter
of Ely Cathedral. By the early 17th century an interest in Stoke Park
was held by William Acton, who left it to his cousin, also called
William Acton. The 1829 edition of The
Suffolk Traveller refers too ‘the manor of Stoke-hall, by which
we do not mean the modern house by the church but what is now called
Stoke-park’, stating that it was held by Nathaniel Acton of the Dean
and Chapter of Ely.
A map dating from 1787 shows an unnamed building located near the site
of Stoke Park and one dating
from 1801 shows Stoke Hall on
side of Belstead road near the church of St Mary near the Orwell. Even
at this early date there seemed to be a need to distinguish the two
houses. In 1840 Stoke Park was acquired by the Honorable Merrick
Burrell, a member of a family whose seat since the late 17th century
had been at Langley Park, Beckenham in Kent. It seems likely that the
estate came on the market following the death of Nathaniel Lee Acton in
M.L.P. Burrell was the younger son of the first Lord Gwydyr who married
the eldest daughter of the Earl of Ancaster (see
derivations for Ancaster Road). Burrell died
in 1848, to
be succeeded at Stoke Park by his eldest surviving son, Peter Robert
Burrell (see Street
derivations for Burrell Road), who became
the fourth Lord Gwydyr, succeeding a cousin in
that barony. Peter R. Burrell died at the age of 99 in 1909. On the
death of his only son six years later the barony became extinct and the
Stoke Park estate was inherited by his granddaughter, the wife of Sir
John Henniker Heaton. Lady Henniker
Heaton put the whole estate up for auction in 1918, with the house
contents being sold the following year. After various auction/sale
attempts, Percy Barker owned much of the estate by 1922 and he sold
seventy-six acres of it to Alderman W.F.
Paul. He presented it to
Ipswich Borough Council for a public park (Bourne Park – see the gate
medallion images above). The date of demolition of the mansion is
unclear, but by 1935 a new house had been built to the design of local
architect H.R. Hooper. Ironically, perhaps, this house was itself
demolished in 1968 and the estate was acquired for housing development.
Over fifty years, the whole of the Stoke Park estate, apart from the
Stoke Park Wood local nature reserve (see below) and Bourne Park, had
become a suburb of Ipswich.
Stoke Park is stated to have been 'built on the site of an old house of
the same name according to plans approved by Peter Lord Gwydyr'. Little
is known about the house that it replaced, except that the Tithe Map of
1840 shows a large building consisting of two blocks, the south side of
one overlapping continguously the north side of the other. The
new house may have been designed bu Richard Makilwaine Phipson, but
that is by no means certian. It had eight bays on the south (garden)
front and five on the flank, the windows on the upper floors being
sashed. It was a three-storeyed building with a wing projecting to the
rear on the west side and a two-storeyed wing to the north-east
containing the domestic offices. It was built of white Suffolk bricks
with a hipped roof and string courses. The entrance was at the southern
end of the west front with an Ionic-pillared porte-cochere leading into
a single-storeyed entrance hall. On the garden front there was a
single-storeyed open collonade of nine pillars onto which French doors
gave access. [See the coloured illustration above.] On the east front
there was a single-storey extension matching the entrance hall and
leading to a conservatory.
The house had five 'noble entertaining' rooms – saloon, two drawing
rooms, library and dining room together with a billiard room and study.
The main rooms had decorated ceilings and marble chimneypieces, the
principal drawing room being decorated in the Adam style with a marble
and scagliola [imitation mineral made of plaster mixed with glue and
dyes which is then painted or polished] chimneypiece inlaid to
represent fluted columns with Ionic capitals. The oak staircase from
the saloon led to thirteen bedrooms in the south wing, those on the
first floor being arranged in two suites of three rooms each. The west
wing contained four bedrooms on each floor. In all there were three
The domestic quarters in the north-east wing provided all the offices
normally required in a house of this size – butler's pantry strongroom,
housekeeper's room, servants' hall, kitchen, scullery, larder, laundry
rooms, game larder, brush room, lamp room, knife room, shoe room, wood
house, oil room, coal houses and two cellars. On the upper floors of
this wing there were nine servants' bedrooms, a housemaid's room, two
pantries, drying room and box room.
The coach yard provided stabling for ten horses with a coach house,
harness room and other offices together with a coachman's house. The
kitchen and fruit gardens had a range of glass houses (comprising
vineries and peach, cucumber, tomato and propagating houses, potting
and tool sheds and the head gardener's cottage. There were extensive
pleasure grounds and gardens including tennis and croquet lawns.
[Includes information from Roberts, W.: Lost country houses of Suffolk, see
Stoke Park in the early 1930s
The above map from the early 1930s shows the location of the
house and parkland in relation to the Ipswich-London main line at lower
right. Arch Cottage is clearly shown at mid-right with the main
carriage-drive (later Corporation Avene across Bourne Park) running
westwards and curving round Fishpond Covert to reach the mansion. The
wavy road at upper left is on the line of today's Fountains Road. The
modern housing developments in this area make it difficult to imaging
the country mansion and its many game-bird coverts and grassland. The
Wherstead 'Brick Works' – source of the Wherstead
Red – is shown at the lower right, south of the railway line.
Disambiguation (in the
1. 'Stoke Park', while being the name of the parkland, is also the name
of the Burrell mansion – here we call it
'Stoke Park Mansion' to make it clear. It has been demolished.
2. 'Stoke Hall', built on the rise of
Stoke Hill and next to St Mary-At-Stoke
Church, was built by Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45 ans was once the
home of Robert James Ransome (1830-1891). It has been demolished.
3. 'The People's Hall' in Stoke Street,
close to The Old Bell Inn, has confusingly
had the name 'Stoke Hall' added to its fabric. It still stands.
Park Wood Local Nature Reserve
Opposite the Stoke Park Drive entrance to Bourne Park
is a small
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.' Thanks, Mike. The tracks you mention are
close to the small, numbered rail bridge over the pedestrian way down
to Wherstead Road on our Rail bridges
More park lettering: Alexandra Park, Christchurch
Park (and Mansion) and Chantry Park.
See also our Lettered castings
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