On this page: Bramford Road
School, Argyle Street School, Clifford Road School, Springfield Junior
School, Ranelagh Road School, Grey Coat Boys School,
Elm Street School, Spring Road School, Sprites Lane Schools
BRAMFORD ROAD SCHOOL /
GATACRE ROAD - the most lettered school in Ipswich!
School buildings are a good source of lettering
examples. That which
close to W.B. Kerridge at the corner of
Road and Bramford Road is now used as part of the redeveloped Suffolk
Office. The renovation has revealed the polychrome brick and terra
cotta. This was designed by noted Ipswich architect, Brightwen Binyon,
in 1882 and extended along Gatacre Road in a more 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
an archive store and offices (see Alan Forsdike's recollections, below).
This remarkably decorative finish to the two
on the friezes:
'IPSWICH SCHOOL BOARD'
an almost Islamic diamond-decorated background with polychrome roundel
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.
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
It is a reasonably safe bet that the entrance nearest to the
vehicular access the Record Office, the one used by the Sir John Mills
Theatre, has 'Girls' over the door. The similarity to the 'Infants'
door is striking and the large board bearing the theatre name is
mounted over the doorway, concealing any lettering.
And on the nearby, decorative, cast iron
hopper: '1888'. Other dated
water spouts can be
seen at Tooley's Almshouses and The Walk. Such examples are collected on our Dated rainwater hoppers and weather vanes
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.
Long shots in 2005
'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'.
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
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
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:
The central Borough crest (lion rampant with
prows) in rubbed red brick:
'INFANTS' and 'SCHOOL' with decoration at top:
ARGYLE STREET SCHOOL
Meanwhile in Argyle Street, opposite the former Harry
Seaman premises, we find another fine example commissioned by
Board School in 1872. Crown, thistle, clover and rose motifs appear on
polychrome arched surround.
'IPSWICH - BOARD - SCHOOL
The lower part of the
Ipswich Borough crest is degraded, so that the date '1872' is not
For more roundels, click here.
Argyle Street School was designed by H. M. Eyton in 1872-3. School boards, created in boroughs
and parishes under the Elementary Education Act 1870, were public bodies in England and
Wales between 1870 and 1902, which established and administered
elementary schools. School boards were abolished by the Education Act
1902, which replaced them with local education authorities. The 1872 Ipswich Board School building was rebuilt in 1914
for 432 boys taking in pupils from Foundation Street School.
See our Bolton Lane page
'Devereaux Court') for information about these local schools and a time
when Argyle Street School was 'The Ipswich School of Commerce and
Social Studies' for female students in the 1950s.
The railings in front of the school are also of interest. The capstone
of the brick wall is actually 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:
courtesy John Bulow-Osborne 2014
George Abbott Ltd
advertisement from Harrison's Time
Churchill House at 3 Crown Street (an empty block for some
years, but now occupied by an accountancy firm) is on the site
of the former Temperance Hall, later the
'CROWN... IRON... WORKS... 1840... GEORGE ABBOTT LTD'.
courtesy Nick Wiggin
The photograph (perhaps late 1950s/early 60s) above right shows the
location of the old Temperance Hall with its Palladian-style frontage
partially obscured by a later structure. High Street runs up the side
of the hall at the extreme left; Crown Street runs across the centre
from left to right; the photographer stands in the northern end of
For photographs of buildings on Crown Street across the High Street
junction from here, see Lost trade
The Temperance Hall
Drunkenness was serious problem in the nineteenth century as working
men sought to escape their thoroughly uncomfortable, indeed
comfortless, way of life by resorting to the alehouse. There were those
who saw total abstinence as the only answer. Perhaps surprisingly, the
temperance movement in Ipswich was inaugurated by three soldiers from
the Ipswich Barracks, one of whom, Trooper George Grieg, called on his
hearers to sign the pledge of total abstinence forthwith. The
Temperance Hall on the corner of Crown Street and High Street was built
in 1840 at the expense of the Quaker banker, Richard Dykes Alexander
[see his house on our Blue plaques page].
was a ‘large and handsome building, of Doric architecture’ which could
accommodate 800 people ‘being 68 feet long’ with a spacious gallery and
By 1890 the hall had ceased to have a link with the temperance movement
and had become the Crown Street Iron Works where George Abbott made the
‘Victoria’ cooking ranges that won him gold medals at the 1895 and 1897
Ipswich General Trades and Industrial Exhibitions (information based on
Master, R: Ipswich – an A to Z of
see Reading list).
Abbott’s were also known for their production of lawn mowers,
palisading, gates, railings, also boiler repairs and all makes of
bicycles, tricycles and perambulators ‘repaired and made equal to new
at reasonable cost’.
In 1964 the old Temperance Hall was demolished as part of widespread
clearances in this area of Ipswich and the site is currently occupied
by accountancy company offices on the east corner of the junction.
CLIFFORD ROAD SCHOOL
And at Clifford Road School, in east Ipswich some
rather fine relief
remains over several entrances, recalling the days of strict separation
of Boys, Girls and 'INFANTS'. The slab serif
capitals are stretched in
across the curving entrance to terminate in a splendidly-bellied
'S'; ceramic or faience door surround. This
example faces Woodville Road and is now only used as a fire exit. The
was built in 1906.
See the 'Pathology'
for a similar
SPRINGFIELD JUNIOR SCHOOL
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:
No attempt to incorporate the plural possessive
apostrophe in 'Boys'. Presumably there is equivalent 'Girls'
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.
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
October 2013: can't wait for those leaves to
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:
with the characters in crisp, relief capitals curving
in an arc around the shield.
Below: the gable close to the junction of Kitchener
Road with Bramford Lane.
Round the corner in Bramford Lane is Baden-Powell Cottages with its
unusual sculptural plaque.
RANELAGH ROAD SCHOOL
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
on the gable tops and lettered stone bands below:
Paul's Road is now an access road to small business and
it's also a many-humped rat run from Ranelagh Road to Crane Hill
Road). From it we see what is effectively the rear of the buildings,
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
GREY COAT BOYS AND BLUE COAT GIRLS
Until it was demolished and replaced in 2007/8 by a
rather brutal modern structure, there stood in Curriers Lane a much
bearing the tablet
below. Up to that time it was still used as an educational
...and a clearer picture:
'GREY COAT BOYS
& BLUE COAT GIRLS
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 James' 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 from 1871 by
the Ipswich School Board (as shown on Bramford Road School, above) and
later local council schools. The Blue Coat School
opened to female pupils in 1710 but was considered to be educationally
"inferior": 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.]
Grudging inclusion of replacement
See also the Street name derivations for 'Curriers
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 Defence, ARP [Air Raid
Precaution] 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."]
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.
[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.]
Above: the street nameplate on the
junction with Warwick Road.
A similar vintage of school lettering can be found at
Pupil Referral Unit in Woodbridge Road. It still bears the tablets with
chiselled copperplate script:
And here's a treated close-up:
The information below is from John Norman's column Ipswich Icons: Taking care of and
educating children of workhouse inmates in the East Anglian Daily Times date 15
"In the 20 years following its purchase of the farmland, the Freehold
Land Society had sold plots (by allocation of lots) and houses and
cottages were being built.
The early examples included flint cottages with small market gardens,
utilising both back and front gardens. One enterprising individual
decided a hotel would be a good investment and set about building the
eight-bedroom Freehold Tavern on the corner of Bloomfield Street and
Freehold Road (opened in 1860).
The venture failed. Freehold Road simply didn’t carry any traffic
(other than local residents), and there wasn’t the necessary passing
trade for a hotel.
In 1869 John Chevallier Cobbold stepped in and
purchased the building, offered it to the board of guardians and it
became St John’s Children’s Home*.
Outside London, the idea of a home and school for children, separated
from what were regarded as work-shy adults, was revolutionary. Children
could grow and mature, be educated and trained, without the influence
of the older residents of the workhouse.
Initially the former tavern with its eight dormitories
was for boys but the forward-thinking board of guardians leased (and
eventually purchased) adjacent land: a connecting plot that fronted
both Bloomfield Street and Britannia Road.
In 1871 the home was ready and it was immediately set up to accommodate
53 boys in 21 double and 11 single beds. The former pub toilets were
still outside and there was a lack of basic amenities inside. If it was
the guardians’ intention to create a typical Victorian family house, it
simply didn’t work. Modifications were made (although the inside
toilets didn’t come until 1896).
A much bigger new building was erected alongside the former hotel: a
barrack-like place of three floors of very institutional design; long
straight corridors on each floor, with large multi-bed rooms.
At about the same time, major changes were taking place in the
education system. The Forster Act of 1870 was the beginning of
compulsory education and school boards were established to implement
the requirements (and supplement the existing limited number of church
and private schools).
Convenient for St John’s Children’s Home, a boys’ school was built
(1873) in Spring Road: the California
Boys School, just five minutes’ walk from the home.
The building is still there, today known as Parkside Academy, but the
primary school children moved to St John’s in Victory Road. It first
accepted boys from the home in 1895.
After the new children’s home was opened the former Freehold Tavern
became the reception centre. In 1878 an extension was built along
similar lines to the barrack-like boys’ wing and girls were
accommodated. The Girls
and Infants school was eventually in Britannia
Road, even closer to the home. [Britannia Road
Primary School is still there.]
In 1904 a receiving house was built fronting Britannia Road (this
building has been converted into flats – see the photograph at right).
Young people spent their first few nights in this building, rather than
in the dormitories off Bloomfield Street. At its height, St John’s
could house 250 children all separated from their parents, most of whom
were in the workhouse."
[*See our Brickyards page for maps showing the location of St John’s Children’s Home in 1883 and 1902.]
Peter Higginbotham's Workhouse website (see Links, under 'Specialist subject areas') has a
page including St John’s Children’s Home. Scroll
down that web-page for information and images about this home,
originally set up for pauper children in the town.
Sprites Lane Schools
2021 images courtesy Ed Broom
[UPDATE 15.8.2021: 'Weaving
around Chantry today -- Stonechat Lane, to be precise -- I came across
an entrance to Sprites Lane school and some fantastic lettering (see
attached). I believe those well-weathered letters read "IPSWICH
EDUCATION COMMITTEE / SPRITES LANE / JUNIOR AND INFANT SCHOOLS". And is
that the work of Bernard Reynolds on the other wall? Ed Broom.' Many thanks to Ed for rediscovering this
Above: the integrity of the school sign is infrined by four signs. Two
are understandable: the official 'change of name' panel below and the
triangular 'Civic Trust Award'. then comes the 'Warning: anti-climb
spikes' and 'No dogs allowed'.
Below; also showing signs of concrete weathering are the reliefs built
into the dividing wall which were designed by Bernard Reynolds (once
again, a yellow 'Danger of Death' sign intrudes). There is a figure
group at the left, then an owl and two further panels with simplified
The Grade II Listing text is entitles: 'Sprites Primary Academy,
including entrance walls with sculptural relief panels to Stonechat
Road' and reads:'Former infant and junior schools, designed in 1959 by
Birkin Haward of Johns, Slater and Haward for the County Borough of
Ipswich. Work began on site in 1958, with the infant school completed
in 1959 and the junior school in 1960 ... As a concerted, widespread
movement for art in schools never materialised, it illustrates much
about state patronage of the arts in post-war Britain and the
tripartite relationship between artist, architect and local education
See also Smart Street School, Ipswich Ragged Schools and Ipswich High School.
See also our Lettered castings
Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission