Good And... Sons (GCB) Ltd – the story of a building
Oil & ... Cake Mills]
Once a well-recognised feature of the Wet Dock in
Ipswich, this wharf has lost its famous lettering and became a hotel in
2003. Dating back to the 1800s, the redbrick
which the hotel is set was once a merchant's warehouse and many
original features such as the arched windows, and iron columns and
beams have been retained.
The unbridled use of reddish-brown paint suggests that
this lettering replaces
older signs, particularly the bracket shaped areas around the word
John Good & Sons Limited
In the year 1813 a young boy of 11 left his Scarborough home and
on' the sailing brig "British Volunteer" to begin a life-time's
association with the sea and shipping. Over the next 20 years John Good
continued his seagoing experience on vessels trading to the Baltic,
Sea and Mediterranean, gaining his Master's Certificate.
In 1833 he set up an office in Hull to found the company John Good
Co., as Ship Chandlers, Agents and Brokers, utilising the connections
had built up mainly with the Baltic and Finnish ship owners. After his
in 1864 his two sons continued to run the company, which had also
into ship owning. The Company's first regular liner agency was obtained
in 1883 for Finland Steamship Company's new cargo and passenger
between Finland and Hull. This agency continued for over 100 years.
The company has continued to expand, concentrating on general agencies,
ship agencies, and liner agencies, opening offices throughout the
Kingdom including Felixstowe and the Immingham ports. Today John Good
provides a total transportation service and is one of the largest
ship agency companies in the United Kingdom, still family owned and
[current Chair: John Good according to their website
The part of the name which puzzled us was ''(G.C.B.)' and this refers
to General Cargo Brokers which in 1974 became a wholly owned subsidiary of John Good & Sons.
Presumably the two companies were close enough in 1965, when they set
up offices in Ipswich, for the parentheses to be added to the sign.
It was several years later, on re-examining the
photographic prints of this frontage, that we made out the light
coloured capital letters bleeding through the russet-painted strip
'BRITISH OIL &... CAKE
either side of the central
teagle doors. It's still readable today, becoming visible
with time and weather. See the enhanced portion of the image below:
British Oil and Cake Mills,
also known as BOCM, of 29 Great St Helens, London
1899 The company was founded, taking over several companies and firms
of oil and cake manufacturers and oil refiners.
1914 Crushers, refiners and manufacturers of linseed, cottonseed,
rapeseed and other oils; manufacturers of linseed, cottonseed and feed
1916 John Robinson and Co. of Bristol was acquired by BOCM.
1925 Lever Brothers bought British Oil and Cake Mills, one of its major
competitors and the manufacturer of New Pin Soap.
Pauls Agriculture was founded in
Ipswich in the early 19th century, initially to trade in malt and
barley for the brewing industry. This expanded into trading of maize
and other foods for horses. From the early 1900s, they started to
produce food for other animals too.
In 1992 Unilever sold BOCM Silcock to merge with Pauls Agriculture to
form BOCM PAULS LTD (currently owned by ForFarmers Ltd, based in the
[UPDATE 21.9.2016: This
enamelled metal sign was found in a pile of cuttings and rubbish in the
car park close to the Jewish Cemetery.
Ripped from the wall, it was probably installed in the last ten to
twenty years, and is a small trace of a major occupant of the Wet Dock
Period photographs (1950s/1960s?)
Close-up of photo on The Changing Dock page
The above view of the John Good warehouse may date from the
1960s (that's a mini van parked in front, isn't it?). It shows
frontage doesn't bear any readable lettering at that time.
Lying between 'Isaac Lord' and 'J.D. Whitmore' (and
with the tower of St Clement's Church behind it) this 1964 detail of
Neptune Quay from the island shows the original sign, a year before
John Good took over the building. The only part missing from our
deductions above is the very definite article at the beginning and the
'THE BRITISH OIL & CAKE
The building is markedly different at this time: the
upper portion is pointed, bearing a pitched roof, the lower portion
carries a canopy along its whole width including the low adjoining
building to the left. The roof line was clearly changed and a box-like
extension built which survived until the warehouse became an hotel in
2003 and the grey extension was built (shown below). J.D.
was a sailmaker's business.
Sadly, all of this lettering has now been expunged (but
mentioned above it's gradually reappearing), as part of the conversion
the wharf to an hotel. However, 'SALTHOUSE ... HOTEL' painted
on an added brick-coloured strip on the upper part of the
building facing the Wet Dock
on the front and:
on the side wall was at, least, of the same character
Good lettering. Clearly an hotel which can't quite make up its mind
what it's called. The rather ugly, grey, upper portion has been added,
on the positive side the building is once again in use as part of the
regeneration. The building of a modern extension on the Neptune
Quay side of this building virtually doubled the size of the hotel.
A similar view in 2013
A similar view from Tovell's Wharf (see the Wet Dock map) on the 'Island'
formed by New
Cut and the Wet Dock. The chimney vent above the Isaac Lord maltings is
still in place, as is the company name lettering. Behind is the roof of
the foundry now called The Foyer in Star Lane, minus its tall chimney.
J.D. Whitmore's building has been replaced by the glass-fronted
Salthouse Harbour Hotel extension. The canopy on the BOCM building at
ground level has gone.
Below: another view of the lettered side wall
of the hotel; and the side of the car park opposite (the walls of the Isaac Lord complex).
Above: the view across the pool of the Wet Dock.
The view of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel
extension from the lane beside the Neptune Café (to the right). The
characterless grey block bridges the lane so that the Wet Dock can be
seen through the tunnel. The early buildings in the midground and
foreground are dwarfed. Sadly, a story repeated elsewhere around the
Wet Dock where requirements for increased accomodation (and profits) on
a relatively small land footprint result in higher and higher
structures hiding the docklands from view in the surrounding streets.
The map of the modern north-west part of the Wet
Dock quays shows the relative size and relationships of the Isaac Lord,
Old Neptune Inn and John Good mill/Salthouse Harbour Hotel features.
This apparently obvious
question (Wherry Quay was named after the Wherry Inn – in 2016 the site
of the Isaac's extension, Griffin Wharf was named after the Griffin Inn
on the corner of New Cut West and Bath Street) is begged by the
distance of the Neptune Inn frontage from
the dock. The above view of the Old Neptune courtyard shows the
restored buildings with a view of the Wet Dock obliterated by the back
wall of the John Good Building (now the Salthouse Harbour Hotel),
covered in Virginia creeper. In fact the John Good mill is a new comer
to this ancient building; the Old Neptune had its own quay leading off
the natural harbour, long pre-dating the building of the Wet Dock in
1842. The quay, presumably with a removable bridge to allow traffic
along the quayside when the Neptune Quay inlet was not in use, would
have enabled lighters to unload goods directly avoiding unnecessary
handling and carting.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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