Ipswich Transport Museum
Started in 1965, The Ipswich Transport Museum has the largest
collection of transport items in Britain devoted to just one town.
Everything was either made or used in and around Ipswich, the county
town of Suffolk. This is clearly a logical result of a town steeped in
the the industrial revolution, dockland trading and heavy engineering
(the museum produces a map of Ipswich showing just some of the many
foundries which flourished in the town and are now long gone.
In 1988 the Museum was granted a licence to occupy two thirds of
the former Priory Heath Trolleybus Depot, and this enabled the many
exhibits to be gathered together under one roof for the first time in
From this website's point of view, the Transport Museum has many
examples of lettering from past eras; some are original, some are
repainted or recreated. Let's start with an array of street name signs
which hangs hust inside the entrance. The familiar cast iron plates are
interspersed with pressed signs. The 'UPPER BROOK ST'
sign at the bottom appears to have been left in the state it was
in when removed. The close-up of the 'O' shows the
The collection of supporting artefacts and ephemera surrounding
the vintage and restored vehicles is very rich. We would love to know
where the decorative signs above
left were displayed. The first proclaims three venues which are
sited in roughly the same area:
It is possible that the Free
Library referred to was run for a time from Christchurch
Mansion (as were the Schools of Art & Science, which were
eventually run from Ipswich Museum), which
would make more sense. However, in 1887 the Jubilee of Her Majesty
Queen Victoria was celebrated by a public subscription which was
applied to the building of the Lending Library which was housed
initially at the Victoria Wing of the Ipswich Museum in High Street;
eventually it moved to the Carnegie building in Northgate
1924. For a brief history of Ipswich libraries see our Rosehill case study page. The
sign to the right is even more puzzling:
The museum referred to may be the
original building in Museum Street or the 1880 building in High Street,
but we know of no public baths in the vicinity – the
nearest would be St Matthews Baths and Baths Hall, perhaps.
The collection of signs above
right are full of nostalgia for a time when black and white
painted and embossed metal signs sometimes had reflectors in them to
make them readabel at night. Hence the sign:
gleaming in the flash photograph.
This is a very nice advertisement board which presumably came
from the Grey-Green Coach building in
Old Foundry Road. The drop-shadow characters read:
GEORGE EWER & CO.
GREY GREEN COACHES.
DAILY SERVICES TO & FROM LONDON
- AND -
PRINCIPAL EAST ANGLIAN TOWNS'
The partially cleaned lower left
section of the sign reveals the word 'BOURNEMOUTH' in white characters
against a maroon background, which suggests that this large sign-board
was a re-use of an earlier sign.
Ipswich Corporation buses must have existed in a world where job
security was much greater than today. Several of the buses in the
Transport Museum collection feature the General Manager's name on the
bodywork. The familiar 'USED TICKETS' box sited on the rear platform of
a bus from a time when electric safety doors weren't dreamt of,
features the admonition in outlined condensed capitals with a bright
blue drop shadow:
The advertising panels of omnibuses were, as today, a useful
source of income from businesses. The Ipswich Co-operative Society
chose a very 'transport-style' motif for their advert, below.
ENTERING OR LEAVING
THE BUS WHILE IN
MOTION DO SO AT
THEIR OWN RISK.'
The electric tram shown below is a beautifully restored embodiment of
civic pride, bringing back to life the main body and some of the
metalwork which had been used as a storage shed.
The beautiful livery detailing and 'showman'-style name:
'IPSWICH CORPORATION TRAMWAYS'
are all restorations, the
lettering being recreated by a retired Ipswich Buses craftsman.
The former Trolleybus Depot in Cobham Road, Ipswich in which the
collection is housed was once home to the painters who would have
produced this type of work. The Ipswich Borough coat of arms in the
centre of the tram body is probably a transfer, but reminds us the
Ipswich is one of the few authorities which keeps control of its public
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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