Brand & Sons, Phillips &
Piper, Grey-Green Coaches
The shop sign revealed in February 2015 (scroll down for more)
E. Brand & Sons, former department store, 32-36 Tacket Street
Once neglected and algae-covered, this building at
Tacket Street embodies several lettering examples in its fabric. Part
of the upper floors were once devoted to the First Floor night club;
the shops below have changed hands many times, but once
to 'BRAND & SONS' as shown on the
decorative panel below the ornate
balcony. The supporting stone "brackets" supporting the balcony are a
little like ship's prows with their human faces and the ampersand of
the company name slides below the central one. Blocked gutters have
caused staining, moss and algal growth.
The owners of The Opium Lounge/Buddha Bar - later Ice
and Fire -
the building in 2001 and cleaned the excellent decoration. One puzzle:
date stone high up in the gable (above right) appears to be
clearly marked 'IX
AD 90'; to us this reads '990', but the
surely dates from 1890 when Mr Brand and his sons operated a sizeable
business in selling stays and corsets. [UPDATE
16.8.2012: The answer comes from Simon Knott (of the Suffolk
churches website; see Links), whose close-up
of the date shows that the 'X' is really a fancy '8' with squared-off
top and bottom, so '1890' it is, then. One for the architecture buffs:
we also learn that the smiley balcony supports are called 'telamons',
being (although rather small) a male version of the 'caryatid' as seen
in Cheltenham's Montpellier area.
Greek mythology, was the son of Aeacus of Aegina and Endeis; he
accompanied Jason and his Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.]
Above and below: following the cleaning
and conversion of the buildings
into accommodation in 2017, the fine balcony and decorative lettering
are seen to best effect:
Below: Telamons up close and personal
after the building was cleaned. The eyes at extreme left and extreme
right are particularly beady, perhaps due to erosion of the stonework.
The capital stone at top left of the
building adjacent to one which dates the fascade to 1875 - shows 'E.B' for E. Brand.
The making of stays (corsets) was an important local
industry for many years in Ipswich, the piecework
manufacture being done in people's homes. In
had at least nine staymakers, six of them women, this rose to thirteen
by 1845. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were only two
women listed as corsetmakers, but three companies: the Atlas Corset Co.
in Lower Orwell Street, E. Brand & Sons in Tacket Street and
William Pretty & Son in the large
factory with its high chimney on
Tower Ramparts which employed hundreds of women. Pulled down in the
eighties, this last site is now the public car park running behind
Debenhams, All Fired Up (the stabling at the back of the Crown & Anchor Hotel) and Marks
E. B 1875
BRAND & SONS,'
Brand & Sons was a drapery, haberdashery and corsetry department
store, and they also let upper rooms to the labouring classes. The
premises were extensively rebuilt in 1903 by the architect Walter
Brand, son of the store owner. See Ipswich
Museum contents for a mirrored name-sign belonging to the Brand
& Sons department store. By September 2014 the paint above
the central entrance door to the former store was starting to peel
away, mainly because it had been applied to glass with mirrored
characters similar to the Museum's sign;
The rest of this signage above the shop windows is weathering at
a slower pace, but there are traces of gold and black lettering showing
through there, too.
16.2.2015: "Walking along Tacket St today saw some fellas working on a
shop frontage, has been wedding outfitters most recently, but they were
standing with admiration looking at some of the most gorgeous
lettering, in superb condition after they had scraped paint away.
'DRAPERS. BRAND &
FURNITURE & BEDDING (34-36)'
see with the last section about to be scraped away! Tony Marsden" Our grateful thanks to eagle-eyed Tony
Marsden, who not only spotted the revealed lettering, but had his
camera handy. Is there any chance that the mirrored lettering might be
left in view by the next occupiers? – see press cutting below]
2015 photographs courtesy Tony Marsden
[UPDATE 20.2.2015: It is good
to see that the local paper, the Ipswich
Star, covered the story on the following day. From this article
we learn that the owner of Peggy's Place, the new occupant of the shop,
has said: 'Since the sign was exposed I've had several calls from
people saying how wonderful it looks and can we keep it that we think
it would be good to keep it showing.' Result. The E. Brand & Sons
store sold drapery, haberdashery and furniture from 1903 until the late
1950s when it closed.]
What we need now, is for the right-hand side of the building to
be restored so that we can see what lettering lies below the paint on
In the summer of 2016 this shop was vacated and stood empty once
again. The resonant Brand & Sons Ltd sign remains, as it did for
many years beneath coats of paint.
[UPDATE June 2017: the
E. Brand building is being cleaned and converted into accommodation by
the new owners.]
Phillips & Piper, St Margarets Street
A similar naming of a business in the fabric of the
building can be found
at the modest entrance at the corner of Pipers Court in St Margarets
In the photograph below it is just below the traffic lights. The large,
curving apartment block which straddles the site of the
ramparts between that street and Old Foundry Road was, until the
a busy factory producing sports clothing:
'PHILLIPS & PIPER LTD
2004 image 2015 image
One hundred and thirty one years of history came to a close in
June 1982, when Phillips and Piper closed its Ipswich clothing works.
The company made high quality clothes, including riding wear for men,
women and children. Thousands worked for the company during its
history, many of them young women who started directly from school.
Above: the deeply chiseled, stylish characters.
It is only a short distance from Christchurch
and Park; it's also halfway between Ewers Grey-Green (below) and The
Ewer's Grey-Green Coaches, St Margaret's Street/Old Foundry Road
Entrance on St Margaret's
Street / 2012
The former Grey-Green Coaches depot has large
concertina doors onto both
St Margaret's Street and Old Foundry Lane. Below is the view from the
Lecture Hall entrance on Old Foundry Road; the front entrance carries
lettering stretched in a single line. The modest art deco style of the
is well preserved. We can remember travelling in Grey-Green coaches
London to Saxmundham in the seventies and, amongst many pauses and
we pulled into this barn-like building as we paused in Ipswich (the
used to travel down all sorts of unsuitable roads in those days
a two-way Woodbridge Thoroughfare). These days the route is covered by
Express coaches which stop at the Old Cattle Market Bus Station. This
would be far too congested with traffic most of the time to use the
depot. In recent years the building has been used by a taxi company,
car dealer and auction house. The company was started in 1928 by George
Ewers and ran express coaches from Ipswich and Felixstowe to London as
well as coach outings in the famous 'Grey Greens'. After the coaches
stopped coming through, seven lorryloads of ready-mixed cement were
required to level the floor which dropped from St Margaret's Street to
Old Foundry Road in order to facilitate water run-away when the coaches
The Grey-Green Coaches garage is the 'properly Modern' work of
versatile architect J.A. Sherman in 1937, who designed much hereabouts
including the next door eclectic group on buildings including the
former 'Bar Fontaine' and the Art Deco number
1 Woodbridge Road, dated
The photograph below shows the coach station when in operation
in 1982, with the lettering picked out in green. The crane in the
background could well
be being used to build Crown Pools in Crown Street at this time.
Photograph courtesy The Ipswich Society
In 2013 on a visit to the Ipswich
Transport Museum we discovered a fine advertising board for
low down, on Northgate St junction
This part of the Ewers building stands on the historic
Foundry Road (itself
commemorating the original Robert Ransome foundry – see our
blue plaques page – which was the start
the Ransome's engineering empire, so central to the history of Ipswich.
See also the
last vestiges of the 'Ransomes' name in Wyke's
Street and the Orwell Works site.
Old Foundry Road follows
the line of the Rampart and Town Ditches round the medieval core of the
town. Since a good repair and cleaning job in Spring 2004, the Ewers
presents a much crisper countenance to the world.
It faces the 'Lectures'
entranceway to the old
Central (now 'County') Library.
See the 1778 map of the North Gate area on our Bethesda page.
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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