Brand & Sons, Phillips & Piper, Grey-Green Coaches
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 7a
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 32-36 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 belonged 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 42011 imagesIpswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 4a
The owners of The Opium Lounge/Buddha Bar - later Ice and Fire - refurbished the building in 2001 and cleaned the excellent decoration. One puzzle: the date stone high up in the gable (above right)  appears to be clearly marked 'IX AD 90'; to us this reads '990', but the building 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. Telamon, in Greek mythology, was the son of Aeacus of Aegina and Endeis; he accompanied Jason and his Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3aTelamon 

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 20182018 images
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:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 2018
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 2018

The capital stone at top left of the building adjacent to one which dates the fascade to 1875 - shows
'E.B' for E. Brand.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3 Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 1
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 1830 Ipswich 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 & Spencer.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand composite
2011 images
'AD 1890
E. B     1875

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;
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 52014 image  Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 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.
[UPDATE: 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.
Look 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]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015a

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015b2015 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.]

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015cStar, 17.2.2015
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 62015 image
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 that side....
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 82016 images
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 9
[UPDATE June 2017: the E. Brand building is being cleaned and converted into accommodation by the new owners.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand building 20172017 image

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 Street. In the photograph below it is just below the traffic lights. The large, curving apartment block which straddles the site of the town ramparts between that street and Old Foundry Road was, until the eighties, a busy factory producing sports clothing:


Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 22004 image  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 3 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 3a
Above: the deeply chiseled, stylish characters.
It is only a short distance from Christchurch Mansion and Park; it's also halfway between Ewers Grey-Green (below) and The Milestone.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper workers 19321932 image
Above: Phillips & Piper Ltd.: No. 1 Machine Room – massed ranks of sewing machines and, almost exclusively, female workers.

Ewer's Grey-Green Coaches, St Margaret's Street/Old Foundry Road
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 3 Entrance on St Margaret's Street / 2012 images
The former Grey-Green Coaches depot has large concertina doors onto both St Margaret's Street and Old Foundry Road. Below is the view from the Public Library's Lecture Hall entrance on Old Foundry Road; the front entrance carries similar lettering stretched in a single line. The modest art deco style of the building is well preserved. We can remember travelling in Grey-Green coaches from London to Saxmundham in the seventies and, amongst many pauses and stops, we pulled into this barn-like building as we paused in Ipswich (the coaches used to travel down all sorts of unsuitable roads in those days including a two-way Woodbridge Thoroughfare). These days the route is covered by National Express coaches which stop at the Old Cattle Market Bus Station. This spot would be far too congested with traffic most of the time to use the Grey-Green 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 were washed.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 2
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 '1928'.
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 4Photograph courtesy The Ipswich Society
In 2013 on a visit to the Ipswich Transport Museum we discovered a fine advertising board for Grey-Green Coaches.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Foundry Rd signSign,very low down, on Northgate St junction
This part of the Ewers building stands on the historic Old Foundry Road (itself commemorating the original Robert Ransome foundry – see our blue plaques page – which was the start of the Ransome's engineering empire, so central to the history of Ipswich. See also the last vestiges of the 'Ransomes' name in Wyke's Bishop 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 building 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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