Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society ('F.L.S.') had a
dramatic effect on housing in late Victorian and Edwardian Ipswich. One feature of the early housing developments of the
Ipswich area by the F.L.S. is the 'set back' house where a modest pair
of semi-detached cottages were erected in the middle of a long piece of
land which could be used as smallholdings to make a
livelihood by the
outer stretch of Felixstowe Road (past the Royal Oak) there are a
number of set-back houses still standing, all built around by other
housing since they
were originally erected.
The Ipswich Society Image Archive
First of all, though, here
that got away in the 1990s: Derby
Villas. The 'Garden Farms' in the centre
have boarded-up ground floor windows by this date. The house on the
left and set-back
behind were all demolished in 2001 to create Hines Road which accesses
car park for Co-op Rosehill supermarket, the adjacent Aldi store and
new housing on the former, extensive Co-op dairy site.
The terrace on the right (no. 217 bearing the same 'Felixstowe Road'
street nameplate in
the same position) still stands in 2016.
Above: a more recent view showing the houses from no. 217 Felixstowe
Road eastwards (note the street nameplate on the railings), with other
buildings cleared away for retail development with housing behind.
Writing in 1989 in The way we went
(see Reading list), Muriel Clegg tells us:
"A large estate of nearly 74 acres next to the Cauldwell Hall estate
was bought shortly before 1880. Ten
acres were allotted to shareholders and built upon, 17 acres were sold
to the Corporation to add to the grounds of the [St Clement's] Asylum,
leaving 47 acres fronting Felixstowe Road. The most distant part was
used in a manner somewhat remiscent of California. The area was divided into eight
two-acre plots which were to be 'garden farms'. It was not quite 'two
acres and a cow' but the idea of at least partial self-sufficiency was
there. In the middle of each plot a pair of six-roomed semi-detached
cottages was built, provided with wells and fenced in. The cottages
were built in pairs to provide neighbourly help in time of trouble and
were in the middle of the plots in order to make cultivation easier.
There was also the thought that one daythe frontages to Felixstowe Road
might prove valuable. This, of course, has happened and all the
frontages have been built on. Six of the original eight pairs have
survived, each with its access to Felixstowe Road, but there are no
garden farms now. One pair was demolished c.1983 and another more
A similar scheme was carried out in Bramford
Road in 1897 where eight
houses were built in the centre of large market gardens, each having
nearly an acre of land."
[UPDATE 19.10.2016: The Ipswich
Building Society headquarters offices on Ransomes Europark display an
interesting exhibit in the foyer. We are pleased to show it here – the
plaque from the Garden Farm lost when Hines Road was built (see top of
page) and information panel with plan. The plaque bears the scars of
mistreatment and, perhaps, a troublesome removal from the wall, to be
saved by Ipswich Building Society as a symbol of their history.]
F . L . S
was the obvious name for the third pair, with Derby Road nearby.
Again we note the missing full stop
after the 'S' of 'F.L.S'.
The blow-up of the
illustration and plan is revealing. Derby Road is at the left with
'Board Schools' labelled at the site of today's Rosehill Primary
School; also the position of The Royal Oak Inn is shown at the lower
Much smaller plots for terraced houses are shown on the Derby Road
stretch north of the corner shop.
The corner property is labelled ‘Stanley House’. It is the subject of
the First Ballot of F.L.S. 'Felixstowe Road and Derby Road Properties'
dated July 20 1889. It is described as: 'recently thoroughly repaired
... with Yard, Stable, Sheds, Garden situate at the corner of Derby and
Felixstowe Roads'. Looking at the
L-shaped building on the corner today, there is no sign of a ’Stanley
House’ plaque. Indeed, it seems highly likely that the original small
building was replaced by the current one. This later corner property opposite The
Royal Oak we feature on our Felixstowe
Road page because of the 'Family Grocer' and fugitive 'P.J.
infilling around the front of Garden
Farms was expected and planned for in their design. Then, working westwards, come ‘Dorset
Villas’, ‘Stafford Villas’
and ‘Derby Villas’. We know
Villas was demolished during the retail development and the making of
Hines Road (shown at the top of this page), so all six plots and houses
are gone from this area and we can account for their original positions.
Each semi-detached Garden Farm and plot is labelled on the plan:
“Second Ballot. 1 Acre and House. Price £290’
At the bottom:-
Corder, the well-known Ipswich architect and
illustrator, was responsible for the Scarborow
Art Nouveau shop in Dial Lane as well as a number of landmark public
houses whose design reflected that of the Tollemache's Helmingham Hall,
now known as the 'Tolly Follies'. They include The
Golf Hotel on Foxhall
Road, The Cricketers on Crown Street, The Suffolk Punch in Norwich
Road; The Waveney Arms on Bramford Road closed in 1994 and stood empty
for a number of years, before being demolished for housing (today we
may well have insisted on the saving of this fine building and
incorporationg the housing around it).
We have found five surviving Garden Farm pais of cottages.
A. Oxford Villas
Between numbers 227 and 235
Felixstowe Road is the track down to Oxford
B. Bedford Villas
Very well-hidden behind the
newer dwellings to the left, at number 5 Malvern Close is another
pair of set back houses. Number 5 has had an extension added; the
roughcast rendering blends it with the rest of the house.
C. Devon Villas
Accessed by the much more
recently cut through Malvern Close, the whitewashed house of this pair
is numbered 12. In 2014 these set back houses have recently had a
new dwelling built in the original front garden of number 12. You can
still see the smalholding strip of land (the front garden and driveway)
leading up to its neighbour
from Felixstowe Road.
We were pretty sure that this
degraded house name plaque read: 'HERON 1884
This was speculative and was based
the number of characters in the
upper word (five). It
certainly doesn't match the county town names on the other two houses:
no county town seems to fit here.
"Currently at work for
Ipswich Building Society & just had occasion to look at your
website. Small correction for you on Felixstowe Road FLS Houses page.
You speculate worn plaque reads Heron Villas. Good guess but our
records show that it is actually Devon
Villas. Margaret Hancock."
Our thanks to Margaret, the Ipswich
Building Society archivist (see our FLS page),
for this correction.]
D. Norfolk Villas
Above: up a long driveway, between 381
and 387 Felixstowe Road.
The aerial view (below) shows the
relationship between these two Garden Farms: 'NORFOLK VILLAS, 1883' (see the numbered
notes below) is boxed in blue.
E. Essex Villas
In spring 2020, John Norman
drew our attention to the last surviving Garden Farm in the row.
Above: along Ramsgate Drive,
surrounded by modern housing, its driveway and small holding lost. This
turned out to be 'ESSEX VILLAS, 1883' – it is boxed in red in the aerial
view (above) – although
the plaque is unclear (see the numbered notes below).
Having consulted the Ipswich
Building Society (IBS) archivist, we tried to string together the FLS
sketch plans of the four sites from Derby Road eastwards to the bridge
over the Felixstowe railway branch. In checking them against Borin Van
Loon’s ‘FLS developments map from 1866 to 1934’ (see our Freehold Land Society page) the linked plans are a
little fatter than the actual shape of the location, but we must allow
for the site plans varying a bit. The two reference points are the
Derby Road/Felixstowe Road junction and the easterly point of the whole
plot. The line of Felixstowe Road is more or less accurate.
site plans of Garden Farms overlaid on a detail of the Ipswich Building
Society map of all FLS housing developments. [Images courtesy
Ipswich Building Society]
Two things are of note. First that
the line of Garden Farms was rigidly adhered to – perhaps there is some
slight variance in the group close to Derby Road – so that the most
(Cambridge Villas) is quite close to the railway line cutting.
Secondly and quite surprisingly that the list below shows thirteen
originally planned by the FLS. This
is quite a difference to the 'eight two-acre plots' stated by Muriel
Clegg in 1989 in the quotation from The
we went towards the top of this page. However, the
pieced-together plans of the sites (above), depict ten pairs with their
names either printed or hand-written. Clearly more research is
Drawing together the information
provided by the IBS archivist Margaret Hancock (to whom our grateful
thanks), here is a draft list.:-
Farms’ (listed in named pairs from Derby Road eastwards)
Oxford Villas 1887
running up to
the easternmost point:
Norfolk “ 1883
locations not yet identified]
Based on assumptions, the suggestion
is that (from west to east):-
1. ‘Derby Villas,
1889’ was demolished by the Ipswich Co-op to
open up the Rosehill
retail area and IBS have the retrieved plaque in the entrance hall at
their Freehold House headquarters.
2. We know that 'Oxford Villas 1887' is the last
remaining garden farm to the west (between 227 and 235 Felixstowe Road).
– We don't know what happened
to Durham and Lincoln Villas
3. There are two pairs on either side of
Malvern Close; 5
and 7 Malvern Close is 'Bedford Villas,
1885' now shorn of its
4. The plaque on 12
Malvern Close/321 Felixstowe Road is 'Devon
Villas, 1884'; the latter still has its driveway.
5. The one in the
middle of the Ascot Drive ring of modern residential roads was
demolished (Suffolk Villas).
6. The pair between 381
and 387 Felixstowe Road, is Norfolk
Villas; this pair retains its long driveway and some of its
original smallholding land.
7. The one recently
spotted by John Norman, Chair of The Ipswich Society (115 Ramsgate
Drive and 9 Margate Road) is Essex
Villas); the FLS plaque, though visible, is unreadable, we
8. The most easterly (Cambridge Villas) was demolished to
make way for the north-eastern part of Ramsgate Drive.
The original FLS site plans don’t
match up exactly, but enough to convince that the above is a reasonable
For another illustration and
of the Garden Farms see our California
page under the heading "Ipswich Borough's 'Character Area'".
See our Bramford Road page for other F.L.S. houses.
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