Ronald 'Carl' Giles worked as a cartoonist for Express Group Newspapers
from the 2nd World War to 1992. The
Grandma statue by sculptor
Miles Robinson is based
on the characters in Carl Giles's cartoons from the Daily Express: Grandma,
with her constantly runny nose and alarmingly thin ankles, the twins in
their matching bobble hats and the dog (what no Larry? –
his frizz of hair would be difficult to sculpt). The only problem with
sculpted figures who wear spectacles is that they look as if they are
wearing 1st World War flying goggles.
The group is
now sits on a lettered granite pedestal in the town centre. It started
life in 1993 sited at pavement level on the opposite side of the road
and was vanadalised in the early years. Giles Circus is the name that
has been given to the confluence of Princes Street, Queen Street and
Buttermarket. The refurbishements in 2010 to the paving and the
installation of the plinth and resiting of the statue seemed to take
ages to complete. Although
born in Islington Giles worked in the town all his adult life, living
for years in Witnesham.
Although the upper granite cylinder has been slightly vandalised with
the word 'SEPT.' less distinct, the inscription reads:
FAMOUS GILES FAMILY
WARREN MITCHELL - 4TH
TO HONOUR CARL GILES O.B.E.
FOR HIS LONGSTANDING
WITH IPSWICH AND 50 YEARS
AS BRITAIN'S BEST LOVED
Giles early career included a spell in 1935/6 as an animator for
Alexander Korda. Following a serious motorcycle accident which
fractured his skull and robbed him of the sight of one eye and damage
to the hearing in one ear, he animated the Steve character (a cartoon
horse) for Roland Davis in Ipswich. Giles's
politics were left
rather than right. When Lord Beaverbrook persuaded him to join the
Express Group during the war, Giles made it very clear that his
politics would not change. The Giles family became emblematic if the
British Everyman, surviving adversity and the internal tensions of
family life. Giles' genius is in not only creating an absorbing cartoon
world for his characters to inhabit, plus the topical idea for that
day's cartoon, but also in his draughtsmanship and use of black white
and grey tone for reproduction on the rather poor newsprint. Nobody has
drawn (or, rather, not drawn) thick, lying snow and footprints like
Giles and his perspectives are more than just 'correct'.
Some Giles cartoons feature Ipswich and Suffolk locations as mentioned
on our Cornhill
and St Lawrence Church pages. In
addition he drew many pubs, putting them into unique cartoons
to hang on the bar wall. There may be some surviving in pubs which
haven't been gastro-ised. The Carl Giles Trust Collection is held by
the University of Kent on behalf of Express Group Newspapers. It
contains around 6,500 original artworks for cartoons which you can look
'QUEEN STREET', PRINCES STREET', 'KING STREET'
positioned, carved into a ring of grey stone around the pedestal. No
doubt there is 'Butter Market', too.
Where is Gran looking?
The Giles statue is
positioned so that Grandma is
looking up at the studio
window of the former East Suffolk House where Giles used to work, above
now a coffee shop.
The building has been renamed Clydesdale House and bears a traditional
stone crest and motto above the door of this modernist style building.
The Latin inscription on the scroll (shown enlarged at the bottom of
our image) is problematical. We decipher it as:
'MVLTI SOCIETATE TN TIORES'
doesn't mean all that much. 'Mvlti' (Multi) is many 'Societate' should
probably be 'Societatis' meaning societies; the last two words defeat
[UPDATE 26.9.2014: Tim Leggett
has sent a 'ghost clock' on this building. "There is a lost clock in
Giles Circus which can still be seen if you look for it." His
photographs show 'before', c.1978, and 'after', 2014, views of East
Suffolk House; why did a committee decide to destroy and patch-point
this feature, rather than (a) just leaving it alone, or (b) repairing
it so that it became once again something useful to the public (see the
Stopped clocks website on our Links
page)? See also on the Links page Tim's website of 'befores and afters'
around Ipswich: The Ipswich Society
Comparison Photos. Thanks to him for spotting this.]
The Queen's Hotel, 7(?)-11
Below is a photograph of The Queen's Hotel, from which the street gets
its name, in c.1970 (from the Ipswich Society's Image Archive, see Links). The board to the upper left of the hotel
facade, next to the word 'Quality' appears to have dropped off by this
date – presumably it carried the words 'Tolly Cobbold'. In the centre,
painted on the rendering is:
and beneath that, above the
first floor windows:
QUEENS HOTEL & RESTAURANT ... TOLLY
COBBOLD ... THE WINDSOR LOUNGE'
and just in front of that ,
to the left, is the street nameplate 'QUEEN STREET' on a stripey pole.
Clydesdale House with its crest is visible to the left, with Barclays
Bank at near right and Oxborrow Insurance at near right. The hotel
closed on Christmas Eve, 1971 and was
demolished in 1972 to make way for the Britannia Building Society
standing empty in 2017.
The Ipswich Jornal in 1895
advertised: 'Queen's Street Restaurant, Ipswich, Wines and Spirits,
Ales and Stout on draught or in Bottle; Soup, fish, entrées, poultry,
joints, daily; Balls, Banquets, and wedding breakfasts supplied
throughout in first class style; Breakfast, Luncheons, Teas, and
Suppers; Accommodation for Commercial gentlemen. James Hardwick,
proprietor.' [Information from the
Suffolk CAMRA site, see Links.]
courtesy The Ipswich Society
The view is from the top of Princes Street when traffic ruled and
pavements were narrow. Today the Giles statue occupies the near
foreground with trees and pedestrianised paving in evidence.
Just across Buttermarket from here is a building with a large wrought
in the balcony
1 Buttermarket, the premises of Fenn Wright estate agents. It's too
much to imagine that this 'G' stands for 'Giles'...
[UPDATE 9.1.2018: An
advertisement dating from about 1960 shows the building – then listed
as '1 Old Butter Market' occupied by Garrod Turner & Son, Land
Agents & Auctioneers. The 'G' in the balcony iron-work must surely
have stood for Garrod, which is blended into a 'T', for Turner, to form
a monogram – not particularly obvious at a glance.]
The Giles statue is only a gourmet sausage's throw away from Parr's Bank (formerly Chelsea Building
Society, now Ipswich Building Society) with
its fine lettering and dated weather vane.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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