Felaw Street & nearby streets

Steamboat Tavern
Named after a 15th century local merchant (see Street name derivations) Felaw Street runs from The Steamboat Tavern – the only building on that side of the road – and  Felaw  Maltings up to the Coin Op laundrette on the corner with Great Whip Street. The small street sign hiding beneath the Steamboat's hanging sign is revealing.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 12014 images
The white paint on the sign is weathered and flaking and visible beneath the main lettering is the attribution to the manufacturer.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 2
It is curious to reflect on the fact that a town full of ironfoundries saw fit to go all the way to Burslem for its street signs. The town of Burslem, known as the Mother Town, is one of the six towns that amalgamated to form the current city of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. It looks as though a storage company now inhabits The Former Progress Foundry, Leek New Road, Stoke-on-Trent.

Tim Leggett, to whom our thanks, sends in a 'lost' piece of Tolly Cobbold lettering on the Felaw Street Steamboat sign. Overpainting will eventually give way to weathering and these bold caps with a drop shadow are so clear that it's a surprise that we haven't noticed them before. The Steamboat retains all of its Tolly-style livery, even though the brewery lost its tied houses many years ago.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Steamboat 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Steamboat 2
Photographs courtesy Tim Leggett

Maltings Terrace
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 2

In the centre of the courtyard in the centre of Felaw Maltings is a shaded sculpture: 'Barley' by Vanessa Parker. A colossal sheaf of barley made from tubular steel rods telescoped to form 'stalks' and 5mm steel plate for the 'heads' with steel rods for the 'ears'. They form part of the refurbishment of the paving around the maltings and the Ipswich Wet Dock, undertaken by Ipswich Borough, Ipswich Port and English Heritage. Part of the Waterfront Regeneration Project, the sculpture recalls the former function of the heritage buildings on either side which were originally devoted to converting barley into malt. The maltings were built as a pair between 1904 and 1911, and listed as Grade II in 1972 when still in use. When they closed in 1978, they were the last floor maltings operating in Ipswich, all others having closed or been replaced by the rather more brutalist 1960s-built Wanderhaufen malting plants. In 1984 they were placed on the Ipswich buildings-at-risk register. In 1997 they were refurbished by new owners for a mixture of office and residential use.
In the background is the tiny Maltings Terrace:

Maltings Terrace
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 5

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 4
Above left: on the far left can be seen the edge of the lettered Paul's Tenement Trust buildings. Above right: on the right through the railings can be seen The Steamboat Tavern on the corner with New Cut West.
For a view of Felaw Maltings, The Steamboat and Felaw Street from the Island, see New Cut East.

Bulstrode Road
Next is Bulstrode Road, a short street of terraced houses ending in railings overlooking the site of a major building project in 2013.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bulstrode Road
Below: the Great Whip Street site on 18 April 2013, seen from the far end of Bulstrode Road; in the background from left: flats on Vernon St, R&W Paul silo and the Burton’s block, DanceEast, Cranfield’s, ‘The Wine Rack’, The Custom House, Ashton KCJ, The Last Anchor, Salthouse Hotel.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bulstrode Rd panorama2013 image
By April 2014, the view down Bulstrode Road has changed radically. But then, as can be seen from the 1902 map further down on this page, this end of this short terraced road used to overlook sizeable Malthouses, so probably faced high blank walls...
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bulstrode Rd 20142014 image Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bulstrode Rd fire1970
The dramatic photograph (above right) shows how close the Ipswich Maltings Company buildings were to the houses in Bulstrode Road during the disastrous fire of September 20 1970.

More street nameplates

On the wall of the Coin Op launderette at the top of the street is the sister nameplate to that found on the Steamboat. For a photograph of the whole corner, see our Confectionery page (Haward's 'Bake Office' lettering).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw Street 32014 images
See Street name derivations for the source of Felaw Street.
For some us, the natural way to pronounce this name is with the emphasis on the second syllable: 'Feh-law', but the accepted pronunciation is 'Fee-law', with the stress on the first syllable.

Great Whip Street
Around the corner is the Great Whip Street street nameplate. It is one of the few in the town boasting not one, but two, superior 'T's (see also St Georges Street)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gt Whip Street sign   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lt Whip St sign
As yet, we have been unable to establish the derivation of Great and Little Whip Streets. Is it possible that there is a connection with 'whipping', as used in ropework? The significance of this street is that it led directly into the ford, for several hundreds of years the entry point into the town from the south – eventually Stoke Bridge replaced it, of course. See the discussion below on the historical maps for more on this.
The more recent Little Whip Street sign (above) has been defaced with white paint by the look of things.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gt Whip Street, Edward Fison sign2018 images
Above: Great Whip Street from the Island site looking across New Cut. For more 21st century views of Great Whip Street and the place where the ford entred the river on the south side of the Orwell, see our Edward Fison page. The end wall of the redbrick building to the right is angled to the same line as the original ford across the wide, shallow River Orwell at this point (as shown on the maps below). Genesis is to the left...

Here's a rum do and no mistake. 'Genesis', the name given to the large accomodation complex fronting onto Stoke Quay, has been awarded Ipswich Borough Council street nameplates on the entrances to the blocks. This example, 'Avalon Court' is on Great Whip Street, but a new-comer might assume that the road was called something else. Other nameplates are in place, such as 'Leven Court'; see our Courts and yards page for more on the story of this term 'Court'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Genesis 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Genesis 1a  
Below: an increasingly common sight in parts of Ipswich – street nameplates with a short essay with a legal flavour:
This example adds the bonus of an Ipswich Borough coat of arms and 'No through road' symbol. We believe that this legal exemption is not the work of the Borough, but of the Suffolk County Council Highways Department who refuse to accept responsibility for any future repairs or maintenance of the roads in some new housing developments. The streets around the Bramley Hill development off Woodbridge Road show a number of further examples.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Genesis 2

Gower Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gower St sign2014 images
See Street name derivations for the source of Gower Street. An insignificant street celebrating the distinguished occupant of Nova Scotia House, now the site of the West Bank Terminal.
See also our Street nameplates page for a cornucopia of examples.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gower Street
Above: the plain-ness of Gower Street seen from Little Whip Street. At the far end: the white gable of Stoke Bridge Maltings with Paul's maltings silo to the left and Cardinal Lofts with The Mill tower block to the right (all three on St Peters Wharf). The green Genesis blocks are at the far right, the modern extension to Vernon Street Mission Room are at the far left.

The story of Felaw Street and environs.

The area in question is from Stoke Bridge (definitely pre-New Cut), eastwards down Dock Street to the corner of the present day Island (End Quay), south to the Public Warehouse, westwards past the Harbour Master’s Office to The Steamboat Tavern, up Felaw Street and roughly northwest back to the bridge.

The ford across the River Orwell
The earliest depiction is on John Speed’s map of Ipswich dated 1610. As with other thoroughfares on this map, none of the streets are named, but their layout indicates which is which, even in the early 17th century. Most of the buildings cluster around the southern end of Stoke Bridge and at the corners of Dock Street, Bell Lane and Stoke Street. Such clustering of buildings around busy junctions is common, particularly with the river crossing nearby. There appears to be a continuous line of buildings along Great Whip Street with few buildings beyond this area. Bell Lane, although having a 'nip' to the north, appears to be as wide as Great Whip Street. Little Whip Street runs west to east into Great Whip Street. Muriel Clegg in Streets and street names in Ipswich (see Reading list) goes into the discussion of quite where the nothern entry to the forded river was located; the history of land reclamation, new revetments and, ultimately, the building of the Wet Dock in 1841/2 all make it difficult to envisage a much wider shallower river with large marshy areas at this point. Clegg acknowledges the arguments  for a crossing-point at the southern end of Foundation Street (passing to the west of St Mary-At-Quay Church), but prefers John Glyde's suggestion of a 'Losegate' (a southern gate into the ancient town) situated on or near the site of the present day Foundry Lane. "If this is so, then we have an illuminating picture of St Stephen's Lane coming up from the earliest river crossing place to the heart of the market, and of St Peter's, perhaps the minster church placed between the ford and the bridge, each with its associated roadway. It is at least possible to think of this as the centre from which the area was christianized."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 1Speed map 1610 detail
The importance of Great Whip Street in the early history of Ipswich is indicated on the map by the inlet of the Orwell at the northern end of the street. This inlet does not show so clearly on later maps, however it indicates that Wherstead Road and Great Whip Street was the main thoroughfare from Colchester northwards via Stoke, across the Orwell via a wide ford and into the heart of Ipswich. The road deviates to meet the Stoke Bridge approach. Although there was a
Stoke Bridge’ in existence from before AD970, it should not be assumed that this was always the main crossing point over the river. John Norman mentions that, although evidence has been found on Anglo-Saxon settlement dating back to c. AD450, it took hundreds of years for the town to build a bridge over the river. This gives the ford greater significance than is sometimes acknowledged.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 2Ogilby map 1674 detail
Ogilby’s map of 1674 labels Little Whip Street, Great Whip Street, Stoke Lane and Dock Street. The area to the east of Great Whip Street is called Upper Marsh with, to the north, ‘The King’s Cooperage’.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 3Pennington map 1778 detail
Pennington’s map of 1778 names the owner of this site: Mr Mather. A large plot to the east of Great Whip Street is enclosed and appears to be orchards or a plantation; the eastern point of the plot is close to the Orwell shoreline. The marsh outside this plot is also labelled Mr Mather. A Ship Yard is shown near the site of the previous cooperage. This would connect with properties to the south via a drift way. The land to the south is marked ‘Corporation Land’. Fewer houses are shown fronting Great Whip Street.

By a plan of the proposed Wet Dock by John Bransby in 1836 (not shown here), the planned New Cut to take waters from the Gipping to the Orwell, past the locked Wet Dock and to the open sea. New Cut would divide the property formerly owned by Mr Mather and cut through the western end of the drift way. The plan also shows the position of the ‘Union Workhouse’ (established in 1834) and the ‘Hospital Farm house’ relating, presumably, to Christ's Hospital School.

Great Whip Street Workhouse
The new Ipswich Union purchased a 3.5-acre site on Great Whip Street from Christ's Hospital at a cost of 525 for the purpose of erecting a workhouse. Known as St Peter's workhouse, it was erected in 1836-7 at a cost of 6,585 and was intended to accommodate up to 400 inmates. The architect was William Mason who was also responsible for workhouse enlargement schemes at Hartismere and Bury St Edmunds. The Great Whip Street building was constructed in red brick. Its layout broadly followed the popular cruciform or "square" design. Its entrance block on Great Whip Street contained the board room and receiving wards. To the rear, four accommodation wings radiated from a central octagonal hub. The outer perimeter was formed from single-storey workshops and outbuildings. A chapel was later added at the rear of the building and also an infirmary block. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1884 map below. For much more about see our Ipswich Workhouses page.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 4Monson map 1848 detail
Monson’s map of Ipswich of 1848 shows the post-Wet Dock layout. The island site is now separated from everything else by water apart from the narrow access close to Stoke Bridge. A tide mill pond takes up a large part of the island, with the original lock entrance from New Cut to the south of it. The Union Workhouse is shown in detail with gardens running down to the New Cut road and a continuous line of buildings front the east side of Great Whip Street. A ‘Hospital School’ is shown on the map south of the workhouse which is Christ’s Hospital School which moved from the Shire Hall/Blackfriars area in Foundation Street.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 5White map 1867 detail
By White’s map of 1867 the New Cut road is named ’Stoke Quay’. Incidentally on this map what we now call New Cut West is labelled ‘Orwell Quay’. Again the workhouse and its gardens are shown bordered now to the south by Felaw Street running east-west from Great Whip Street to The Steamboat Tavern on Stoke Quay. Terraced houses line the more-or-less parallel Tyler Street with 'The Blue Coat School' (Christ's Hospital) on the corner of Wherstead Road and Tyler Street, since Vernon Street has been built truncating the south of Great Whip Street. The new streets include those named after benefactors of the town’s charities: Felaw, Tyler and Purplett (originally Puplett/Purpett) (see Street name derivations).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Felaw map 6O.S. map 1904 detail
By the first edition Ordnance Survey map of c.1885 (not shown) Stoke Quay was renamed ’New Cut West’with ‘New Cut East’ over the water. Little else has changed apart from the labelling of ‘Christ Hospital School (Boys)’. The second edition O.S. map of 1904 shows that the workhouse has been demolished and part of the site used for houses along Great Whip Street and either side of the newly formed Bulstrode Road. The workhouse orchards and gardens are gone, replaced by malthouses and railway sidings providing access for them. The railway would have come off the main line, crossing Wherstead Road by the bridge still seen today and curving round past the end of Bath Street and on up New Cut West. There is still a railway/tramway – relaid in recent years – as far as the old crane at Debbage Marina (see photograph below).

It is difficult to make sense of the old road layout since the introduction of new traffic schemes in modern times, but Dock Street, Bell Lane and Stoke Street, Little Whip Street and Great Whip Street can still be identified, albeit often in truncated forms. The other road bearing an ancient name is Austin Street which today runs off Stoke Street down to Wherstead Road at Tyler Street. It can be seen on all the historical maps running into Great Whip Street, the main thoroughfare to and from the ford on the Orwell. The name ‘Austin’ is associated with the parish of St Augustine’s, which was mentioned in Domesday as having existed in 1086. Like St George’s (see St Georges Street and our Lady Lane page), St Augustine’s leaves only uncertain traces in the records after the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) and was probably in decay at the time.

There was St Leonard’s (leper) Hospital “in the area of the later Felaw Street and Tyler Street”. It is said to have survived the dissolution of the monasteries and there are references to it in the late 16th century. Perhaps St Leonard’s Hospital was built on the site of the redundant church of St Augustine. Before the Grammar School which stood on the old Blackfriars Priory site in Foundation Street was demolished in 1851 and John Blatchly tells us that “Chenery’s farmhouse in Great Whip Street was adapted for the purpose”. The new school opened in 1841. During excavations piles od bones were found suggesting the burial ground of St Augustine’s Church and/or the burials from the leper hospital.

To quote the Suffolk County Council Archeological Unit report on 9-11 Great Whip Street, Ipswich:
“... the Grammar School and the Blue Coat School were two separate charitable institutions. The Grey Coat and Blue Coat School Trust was established in 1709 and rented premises “Lockwood’s Room or chamber in St Mary Tower parish” for the school. Amongst abstracts of the various bequests to this charity Mileson Edgar in his will of 1712, left money for “The Charity School in Brook Street” and Richard Philips left money for “the maintenance of the hospital …and towards the support of the Charity School there”. Both entries suggest that the school was then part of Christ’s Hospital. In the minutes of the Charity there is a reference to the purchase of a house in St Mary Elms in January 1771. The building was altered in 1857 when the girls’ schoolroom and master’s house were demolished, though the architectural plans of R. M. Phipson’s have not survived. In 1876 Phipson prepared plans for a new school to be built in Curriers Lane. The school was for Anglicans only and the pupils were obliged to attend services at St Mary Tower. White’s Directory of 1874 gives the address for this school as Elm Street and it is strange that White’s map of Ipswich of 1867 shows the position of the school in Great Whip Street. Unfortunately neither Clarke nor Wodderspoon offer any description of the Blue Coat school buildings.”

The area of land to the south marked ‘Corporation Land’ in 1778 south of Little Whip Street is probably part of ‘Hospital Farm’.

The above passage is based on:

Griffin Wharf Branch
... or Griffin Wharf Branch leaves the main line at Halifax junction, close to the site of the old goods sidings and original station, curls over Wherstead Road (where the road looks as if its been excavated to allow clearance of the bridge by later electric tram traffic), lands close to the site of Nova Scotia House, a fine mansion now lost to us, and home of Captain Richard Hall Gower: nautical inventor (see Gower Street in Street name derivations). Curving round to complete an 'S' shape, the line runs round Griffin Wharf past the sites of engineering companies Cocksedge & Co. and Ransome & Rapier (see the 1973 wet dock map). Presumably the branch was originally built to serve these companies and apparently several freight trains a day use the line in 2014.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Crane at New Cut West   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Crane New Cut West 2Tramway looking towards West Bank Terminal, 2014
Below: a photograph found by Over Stoke History Group. "J15 locomotive No. 65459 crossing 'Black Bridge' over Wherstead Road on 4th April 1959. The 0-6-0 engine, built at Stratford Works in 1906, is seenwith a short goods train, including a train-ferry wagon, between Griffin Wharf and Halifax junction."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Wherstead Rd bridge period
Photo collected by the Over Stoke History Group
This bridge also feature on our Railway bridges page because it is numbered.

See also other aspects of Felaw Street with the 'Bake Office' lettering and Wm. Pauls' Tenement Trust buildings.
See also our Lettered castings index page.

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