4 Argyle Street
Harry Seaman clearly wanted to make best use of this
ideal advertising site,
high up on the chimney stack and on the wall, facing those travelling
the Argyle Street hill. Number 4 was once a Battered
Refuge. The lettering is something of a mystery. The black
capitals with red drop-shadow on a cream background:
of 'Harry' survives as an angled sign on the chimney stack. Presumably
superceded by the rebuilding/reshaping of the wall on which a large,
cartouche was placed. A coat of warm grey paint would, one would
assume, completely obliterate the original lettering. However, gradual
One school of thought proposes that the lower section
of the cartouche might read 'FUNRERAL DIRECTOR' – a fairly common
pairing of trades of yore. If you made the coffins, why not fit them
and organise the funeral, too? Some of this lettering is visible in the
A similar cartouche in the same design is situated
on the opposite end
of the building, designed to catch the eye of the passer-by in Spring Road (which has the H.W. Turner sign).
This cartouche has been repainted regularly by the look of things and
has no 'show-through' of text in 2014.
Doing some digging amongst the Steven's and Kelly's Directories from
1885 to 1962-3, it is clear that this business was a relative newcomer.
For most of this period a string of residents are listed in small
terraced houses on both sides of the road with Ipswich Board School at the top of the
west side (this changed to 'Air Raid Precautions headquarters' in
1940), but no number 4. Much of the housing here and in nearby Wells
Street was cleared between 1940 and 1956. This left the single building
we see today (not counting Atlas House on the north-east corner with
Woodbridge Road), which seems to have been two dwellings, and
renumbered. In 1956 'Harry Seaman, builder' is at nos. 22 & 24.
By 1960 the same entry is shown beside nos. 2 & 4.
Above left: 'W. GRAYSTON, BUILDER &c.' was an earlier occupant when
the east side of Argyle Street was lined with residential houses. Above
right: the later photograph shows Atlas House at the top of the street
and 'HARRY SEAMAN, BUILDER & DECORATOR. [plus telephone number]'
(pre-cartouche signs). The houses on either side were being demolished,
so this is probably around 1956.
[UPDATE 25.4.2016: "Re: Harry
Seaman, Builder, on the brickwork. From 1937 until 1948 he was our
landlord; as well as a builder, he owned and rented out several houses,
his own workmen did any maintenance on them. I was moved into the house
in Kensington Road [near Dales Road] when 6 months old, (so I’m told,
1936) and left in 1948 after Mum died. Ray Riches"]
Just opposite this building is the Ipswich
Board School with a notable, if weathered, crest
and lettering. Down on the corner with St Helens Street is the secret 'IBH' lettering.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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