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BRAMFORD ROAD SCHOOL / GATACRE ROAD - the most lettered school in Ipswich!

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School 5
School buildings are a good source of lettering examples. That which stands close to W.B. Kerridge at the corner of Gatacre Road and Bramford Road is now used as part of the redeveloped Suffolk Record Office. The renovation has revealed the polychrome brick and terra cotta. THis was designed by noted Ipswich architect, Brightwen Binyon, in 1882and extended along Gatacre Road in amore elabotate style by Edwin Bisshopp in 1888. It was converted into the County Record Office in 1988-9 by the County Architect, B.A. Ford with the addition of archive store and offices (see Alan Forsdike's recollections, below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School x2012 images

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School 3
This remarkably decorative finish to the two gables has the integral lettering on the friezes:
'IPSWICH SCHOOL BOARD' and 'BRAMFORD ROAD SCHOOL'
against an almost Islamic diamond-decorated background with polychrome roundel against chequerboard background in a triangle.
[UPDATE 20.5.2014: Alan Forsdike writes: "When the [Bramford Road] school was converted to the record office (1988?) the street name was still covered up from the 1939-45 war. It was decided to uncover and restore the lettering which was damaged underneath... It was the word "Ipswich" which was uncovered and that is why those letters are paler because they were the ones I had replaced... I was working in the then County Architect's Office and had to shin up a ladder to take rubbings of the damaged letters and arrange for new terracotta replacement letters to be made. Best wishes, Alan (Rev'd Alan Forsdike)" Thanks to Alan for this information. This anecdote 'from the horse's mouth', is fascinating because it epitomises the period during World War II when the whole country feared an invasion by Nazi Germany and any sign or lettering which might have aided the invader was uprooted or covered up. We further wonder if that is the reason that the Smart Street School lettering (shown below) is partially boarded over?

Moving round the corner into Gatacre Road, a rounded arch (with a slight point) doorway bearing the word.
  'BOYS'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bramford Road School 22012 images

Further downGatacre Road, the architectural style (and font) changes and we find another doorway with a decorative brickwork surround with shields, foliage and acorns in the spandrels and above, a central shield bearing the gothic:
'Infants'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre School 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre School 1
And on the nearby, decorative, cast iron rainwater spout: '1888' Other dated water spouts can be seen at Tooley's Almshouses and The Walk.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre School 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre School 5

Gatacre Road: home of the Sir John Mills Theatre and Eastern Angles is a veritable orgy of lettering within the crowstepped gables and battlements along the 'side entrances' to the old school.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre Road school 6Long shots in 2005

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre Road school 11
'GIRLS' and 'SCHOOL' in the Gothic script used throughout; 'ERECTED' and 'A.D. MDCCCLXXXVIII'  At first we had trouble decoding these Roman numerals and thought they meant '1838'.
[UPDATE 16.4.09: "I would be suprised if Bramford Road Board School in Ipswich were built in 1838. There were no 'school boards' in 1838, indeed until  the 1870 Act education was a rather hamfisted affair, mainly operated by the Churches. I would at a guess say 1878 - compared it to the Pauls Road 'Ranleigh School' - the building looks older, much more in age and style to Argyle St. I would call in at the Ipswich records office (now based at the old Bramford Road school) and ask for the date of the building.
Harry". Thanks to Harry for prompting a third or fourth look at these troublesome Roman numerals: we're now sure that it's an 'L' for 50 in the middle of the date. So, to match the date on the nearby rainwater spout, it must be '1888'.]

Here is an ehanced close-up of those brickwork panels:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre Road school 7

The central Borough crest (lion rampant with three ship prows) in rubbed red brick:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre Road school 8

'INFANTS' and 'SCHOOL' with decoration at top:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Gatacre Road school 12


ARGYLE STREET SCHOOL
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Argyle Street School 1  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Argyle Street School 2
Meanwhile in Argyle Street, opposite the former Harry Seaman premises, we find another fine example commissioned by Ipswich Board School in 1872. Crown, thistle, clover and rose motifs appear on the polychrome arched surround.

'IPSWICH - BOARD - SCHOOL
1872'
The lower part of the Ipswich Borough crest is degraded, so that the date '1872' is not clearly readable.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Argyle St School   Ipswich Historical Lettering: Argyle Street crest 22013 images
For more roundels, click here.
Argyle Street School ws designed by H. M. Eyton in 1872-3.
The railings in front of the school are also of interest. The capstone of the brick wall is actaully cast iron, which must reduce the weathering. Embossed at a number of places along the length of the wall is the iron founder's company name:
'GEORGE ABBOTT LTD'
Ipswich Historical Lettering: Argyle Street railings2013 image
Ipswich Historical Lettering: Argyle Street railingsPhotograph courtesy John Bulow-Osborne 2014
George Abbott Ltd.
Churchill House at 3 Crown Street (by 2013, an empty block for some years) is on the former site of the 1840 Temperance Hall, later the Crown Street Iron Works of George Abbott, according to the Seven Wonders of Ipswich (see Links).
Ipswich Historical Lettering: George Abbott ironworks'1840' in the wreath at the top, other lettering fitted round it.
For photographs of buildings on Crown Street across the High Street junction from here, see Lost trade lettering.

CLIFFORD ROAD SCHOOL
And at Clifford Road School, in east Ipswich some rather fine relief lettering remains over several entrances, recalling the days of strict separation of Boys, Girls and
'INFANTS'. The slab serif capitals are stretched in relief across the curving entrance to terminate in a splendidly-bellied 'S'.This example faces Woodville Road and is now only used as a fire exit. The school was built in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Clifford Road SchoolSee the 'Pathology' doorway for a similar 'feel'.

SPRINGFIELD JUNIOR SCHOOL
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springlands2
Springfield Junior School on the corner of Bramford Lane and Kitchener Road is a typical redbrick-built single storey school which features relief lettering built into two external doorways:
'BOYS
ENTRANCE'

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springlands 1 Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springlands 2
No attempt to incorporate the plural possessive apostrophe in 'Boys'. Presumably there is equivalent 'Girls' lettering on the other side of the building, not visible to the passer-by on Kitchener Road. The sort of segregation of genders and age-groups epitomised by these images, where groups clearly had their own entrances and presumably classrooms, is rare today. However, High Schools do – for good reason – tend to create discrete areas of the campus for Lower, Middle and Sixth Form students.
The Borough's local list tells us:
"Springfield Junior School, Kitchener Road. Board school. 1896. Architect: Bisshopp and Cautley [Edward Fernley Bisshopp (1850-1921) & Henry Munro Cautley (1876-1959)]. Red brick, slate roofs. Positioned at the junction of Bramford Lane and Kitchener Road, with long classroom ranges to both street frontages, set behind a low brick wall with original railings. A third range runs at right angles to the rear of the Bramford Lane block, enclosing the iron framed assembly hall. The classroom range frontages are a series of projecting gables and recessed bays, enclosing tall window openings with transoms and mullions and glazing bars, the lower panes with sliding sashes. In the recessed bays, the windows form pitch roofed dormers through the slope of the roof. The most prominent gable, at the road junction, has the Ipswich Corporation arms and the name ‘Springfield School’ carved in the brickwork. Several tall brick chimney stacks are set along the roof ridge of the classroom ranges."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springlands 1October 2013: can't wait for those leaves to fall...
Early March 2014: at last this fine piece of brickwork is visible, despite creeper tendrils and algae. We have more examples of the use of the Borough coat of arms on buildings. This inventive identifier breaks the traditional coat of arms between the upper lion carrying a sailing vessel and the shield showing a lion rampant and three ships' hulls. The armour helmet has been replaced by:
'SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL'
with the characters in crisp, relief capitals curving in an arc around the shield.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springfield crest 1Enhanced image 2014
Below: the gable close to the junction of
Kitchener Road with Bramford Lane.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springfield crest 2
   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Springfield crest 3

RANELAGH ROAD SCHOOL
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ranelagh School 32013 images
The frontage of Ranelagh Road School seems to be at the back; it just goes to show the influence of traffic flows and speed humps. The are very grand alcoved armorial crests high on the gable tops and lettered stone bands below:
'RANELAGH ROAD ... COUNCIL SCHOOL'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ranelagh School 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ranelagh School 2
The shields also bear lettering scrolls:
'DIEU ET MON DROIT' (God and my right)
'MUNIA CIVITATIS DECUS CIVIUM'
(The functions of citizenship are the glory of the citizens). This ungainly motto also appears above the High Street Art School Gallery.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ranelagh School crest
Paul's Road is now an access road to small business and the Co-op warehouses; it's also a many-humped rat run from Ranelagh Road to Crane Hill (London Road). From it we see what is effectively the rear of the buildings, standing on the gentle hill. The Borough's local list tells us:
"Ranelagh Road Primary School. 1906. Architect: JA Sherman. Large single storey school, red brick with stone dressings. Designed to accommodate boys, girls and infants separately. The variety of hall and schoolroom spaces are articulated externally by prominent gables in a northern european renaissance style. These step up the slope, and are set forwards or to the rear in relation to the street frontage; the varied articulation is unified by the strong horizontal stone banding which runs across wall surfaces and through window mullions and chimney stacks. Tall square headed window openings are grouped in stepped arrangements under gables and dormers with stone lintels, and a cill formed from one of the stone bands. 4 light sashes under fixed panes with glazing bars. The gables are ornate; stone shoulder corbels, stepped mouldings. The principle gables facing Pauls Road are capped by round arched stone aedicules containing the corporation arms. Tall brick chimney stacks are set at intervals along the roof ridge and to either side of gables. Gables are linked by lower entrance door bays with moulded stone parapets. Entrances are recessed to the side of round arched windows. Original schoolyard wall and railings to Pauls Road."

GREY COAT BOYS AND BLUE COAT GIRLS CHARITY SCHOOL
Until it was demolished and replaced in 2007/8 by a rather brutal modern structure, there stood in Curriers Lane a much earlier school bearing the tablet below. Up to that time it was still used as an educational establishment.

Curriers Lane
...and a clearer picture:
Ipswich Lettering: Bluecoat School
(Photograph courtesy Mike O'Donovan)

'GREY COAT BOYS
& BLUE COAT GIRLS
CHARITY SCHOOL
FOUNDED IN 1709. REBUILT 1875'

The Grey Coat School was the earliest of the charity schools in Ipswich promoted by members of the Established Church. It was opened in Curriers Lane in 1709 with the aim of reviving the practice of Christianity by instructing young boys at the school. The master for 43 years was James Franks. For part of that time his wife Elizabeth ran the associated Blue Coat School for girls while her husband took on the teaching of navigation, in accordance with the bequest of a former pupil, as well as everything else; he resigned ill and exhausted in January 1874 and died six weeks later. The role of the schools was taken over by board and later council schools. The Blue Coat School opened to female pupils in 1710, however the belief in the unimportance of girls' education was reflected in the withdrawal of writing classes in 1737 due to the cost. One question: given the clear division of gender and respective coat colours, why was there a notorious public house not far away in Old Cattle Market (now a restaurant following a fire and a rebuild in the 1980s) called 'The Blue Coat Boy'? [See Reading List: Malster, R.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Curriers LaneGrudging inclusion of replacement building, 2013
See also the Street name derivations for 'Curriers Lane'.
[UPDATE 9.5.2010: This email was received in relation to the Grey Coat School, packed with personal and local historical information. Our thanks to Derrick Palmer for finding our page and contributing to it.
"My name is Derrick Palmer, I was born 20th January 1937 at 14 Curriers Lane, Ipswich, our home was situated directly opposite the school. The earliest memory I have concerns the war years when the school was occupied by the War Dept, mainly Civil Defense, ARP and various Service personnel. My Sister, Brother and myself were often in the building when we would be dressed as war casualties, in fact towards the later part of the war a big exercise took place in Ipswich with many people in the town acting as bombing casualties. This I recall very well because the school took part in the exercise with many children and grownups in the Lane being involved. Military vehicles were used to transport casualties to hospital and the whole event lasted for much of the day, on our return to the school we were given cakes, drinks and a few sweets, which in those austere days was quite a treat. After the war the school remained empty for some time although I do recall young people did use the premises for various activities. Something I would dearly like to know, was the stone sign situated above the center door destroyed, if so then I feel this is quite sad considering the importance and age of the building. Although I no longer live in Ipswich I still keep an interest in what goes on, and I have to say that I was disappointed when hearing that the old school had been destroyed. Sorry, I have no photograph to offer.
One other note, the building situated next to the school "Gipping Mission", my Uncle Frank Palmer was Minister there before and after the war, also he was a member of the ARP at the school. I hope the above will be of some assistance. Yours Sincerely, D.Palmer."]


ELM STREET SCHOOL
Round the corner in Elm Street is 'IPSWICH BOARD SCHOOL' on a stone shield
above an old school entrance which is now occupied by the solicitors Gotelee and Goldsmith. This is just down the road from Mrs Smith's Almshouses. It's quite well hidden... Thanks to Mike O'Donovan for drawing it to our attention.
Elm Street Board School 1
Elm Street Board School 2(Photographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan)

Elm Street Board School 3-4
[UPDATE: May 2013. The modern metal superstructure has been removed and the whole area cleaned so that the rather fine lettered crest (below) is much more readable.]
Ipswich Borough Council: Elm Street Board School 52013 images


SPRING ROAD SCHOOL
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Spring Rd sign
Above: the street nameplate on the junction with Warwick Road.
A similar vintage of school lettering can be found at the Parkside Pupil Referral Unit in Woodbridge Road. It still bears the tablets with chiselled copperplate script:
'BOYS
SCHOOL.
1873.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Parkside 2 Ipswich Historic Lettering: Parkside 1
And here's a treated close-up:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Parkside 3

See also Smart Street School, Ipswich Ragged Schools and Ipswich High School.

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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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