Harry Seaman

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 down the Argyle Street hill. Number 4 was once a Battered Wives Refuge. The lettering is something of a mystery. The  black capitals with red drop-shadow on a cream background: 'HAR...' of 'Harry' survives as an angled sign on the chimney stack. Presumably this was superceded by the rebuilding/reshaping of the wall on which a large, rendered cartouche was placed. A coat of warm grey paint would, one would assume, completely obliterate the original lettering. However, gradual weathering reveals:
'HARRY SEAMAN
BUILDER & DECORATOR'

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 close-up image below:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Harry Seaman 20132013 images

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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Harry Seaman 2014   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Harry Seaman 20142014 images
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Harry Seaman period
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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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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