For a small market town
which has been
by passed by the A14 – and perhaps because of that very fact – Needham
Market possesses a variety of historic lettering examples. The centre
of the town, either side of the B1113, remains largely unspoilt; it
includes a handsome railway
station, too. One access to the station yard (from the public space
around Needham Lake) is via the unusual Cattle Tunnel.
The cast metal plaques at each end are fairly recent, we think, but
look good in the 'blue plaque' style of English Heritage. The
gold, relief serif'd font certainly gives them an 'historic' feel.
Only the shorter in stature will not have to bend when they use the
tunnel, which goes right underneath Needham Market Station. Presumably,
this pre-existing right of way for a farmer to access the water meadows
near the Gipping and drive livestock to market had to be accomodated
when the built the railway line
in 1846. Cutting a tunnel through the embankment, while expensive,
would have been preferable to a ramp from the meadow and a cattle
crossing on the line itself.
The station was opened as 'Needham' by the Ipswich and Bury Railway in
1846. The main building (called by one writer "one of the best in East
Anglia") was designed in a grand Jacobean style with decorative
brickwork by Frederick Barnes and was completed by the contractor,
Daniel Revitt, in 1849. Sadly no integral lettering, despite the blank
tablet above the central doorway.
However, no less than three metal plaques are fixed to the right of the
'NEEDHAM MARKET RAILWAY STATION
Originally named Needham, the station was opened by the Ipswich, Bury
and Norwich Railway in 1846, although the building was not complete
until 1849. The Railway was managed and later taken over by the Great
Eastern Railway. The station was designed by Frederick Barnes,
architect, of Ipswich and built by Daniel Revitt, contractor, of
Stowmarket. Closed in 1967, the station was reopened and named Needham
Market in 1971. It was restored in 2000. The building is listed Grade
II and stands in a Conservation Area.'
'NEEDHAM MARKET RAILWAY STATION
Spacia acknowledges contributions to the cost of restoration from The
Railway Heritage Trust, English Heritage, Mid Suffolk District Council
and Suffolk County Council/
'NATIONAL RAILWAY HERITAGE AWARDS
THE RAILTRACK* AWARD PRESENTED TO SPACIA FOR NEEDHAM
MARKET STATION FORMER STATION BUILDING BY HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE
PRINCESS ROYAL 2002'
[* The highlighting of the word 'RAILTRACK', which stands proud
of the rest of the plaque, suggests either the replacement
of another name, or more probably the use of a company namestyle.
Railtrack was a group of companies which owned the track, signalling,
tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations
of the British railway system from 1994 until 2002. It was created as
part of the privatisation of British Rail. In 2002, after experiencing
major financial difficulty, most of Railtrack's operations were
transferred to the state-controlled non-profit company Network Rail.]
The Rampant Horse
Next to Station Yard, is the picturesquely
named Rampant Horse Inn, still bearing two of the relief lettering
brewery signs which survive on the front of The
public house in Ipswich (as well as the former Bull further up the main
street: see below). The Ferry Boat Inn in Old Felixstowe,
Stowmarket, Hadleigh, Manningtree,
in Ipswich ('Cobbold's) and Off
in Ipswich also carry the name. To the right is:
and to the
splendid arc, all picked out in black paint, of
ALES & SPIRITS'
encloses a window.
<2004 2014 image
By 2014 the 'Tolly Cobbold' relief lettering on both
faces has been covered with sign boards, but the signs survive beneath,
we think. This timber-framed building opened as The Chequers in 1544;
called The Cross House in 1590 and The Kings Arms for a short while
from 1618. It was renamed The Ram in 1750 and then renamed The White
Horse in 1775. It became The Fleece in 1804 when it was sold to John
Cobbold, a brewer in Eye. Finally, it became The Rampant Horse in 1830
and still bears the arching name sign.
the old Ipswich to Stowmarket road is a
shelter with a
Victorian wall post-box bearing the 'V' and 'R' of Victoria Regina
either side of a regal crown. It is a plain cast iron design with 'POST
OFFICE' in capitals on the projecting rain cover. All are readable
still despite many coats of red paint. To the left, under the bus
shelter itself is a rather grand stone tablet in the shape of a shield
with curved pediment. It is set into the same red brick wall and reads
in small and large caps:
'V ... R
For a bit more on post boxes, see our Street furniture page.
A new development on, presumably, an old site in High Street,
The Maltings eas in a 'half-restored' state in March 2014 when we
spotted this tablet across a yard set into a newly-built brick wall
with a new housing development behind it. The view is through the
locked gates on High Street:
Queen's long reign.
(The lead of the figure
'1' in the date has dropped out and
three holes remain.)
Clowes Walker Ltd appears to have Articles of Association dated
March 4, 1899. However, another company of the same name was registered
on 15 February, 1917 but is now dissolved.
'1716' / 'JB'
Up the busy B1113 (High Street), a modest
Market still supports butchery, bakery and other small businesses which
have disappeared in much of nearby Ipswich. The frontages belie their
age, if the '1716' date (see
inset) is to be believed.
the initials 'JB' are fixed in
large wrought iron decorative
characters, painted white and positioned between the first and second
storeys (again, see inset).
The plaque above the door tells us:
CLOWES WALKER LTD.
[some assumed initials]
1887, J.B', so 'J.B' (just the single full stop) could be the
initials of the builder of
In 1887 the United Kingdom and the British Empire celebrated
Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The 20 June 1887 marked the fiftieth
anniversary of her accession to the throne.
street an entrance in white Suffolk brick
with a large
green painted plaque above, bearing the white lettering:
<2004 2014 image
British Listed Buildings (see Links)
for eight poor widows or widowers belonging to
originally built and endowed by some benevolent individual
is now unknown:
Further endowed by the late Saml.
repaired and in part rebuilt by public subscription.
F. Harvey Archt.'
"Almshouses, C16 or C17 with major alterations of 1836 as described on
tablet over entrance. Timber-framed, encased at the front and left-hand
gable in gault brick; plastered at the rear. Slated roof; bargeboards
with undulating soffits. An axial chimney of 1836, gault brick with 4
flues, of quatrefoil plan. 2 storeys, 5 windows. Sash windows with six
panes, the upper three having arcaded heads; above each window is a
prominent hood-mould of painted brick. A set-forward central bay has a
4-centred arched entrance doorway, the door recessed with sunk vertical
panels. In the entrance hall are a pair of carved oak figures, one on
either side of the doorway. They are in the C15 manner and of high
quality. Said to have been part of the original front elevation, but
perhaps more likely to be of ecclesiastical origin."
Stowmarket is a remarkable frontage bearing a
masonic dividers above the initials
'SM' and the date '1718'.
accross the street is the former Bull public house on the corner of
Street which again bears
in relief lettering on two
faces. The decorative gable end lettering is picked out in black, but
that on the long side is painted the same colour as the cement
rendering, although (see enlargement) the fluorescent lighting fitment
is still above it.
See also the Pubs
& Off-licences page and the Tolly Cobbold House & Brewery
The condensed capitals shown above travel across a bend in the wall
above the High Street door (see the break in the bressummer) and
suffers, on a sunny day, from the shadow cast by the still-in-place
strip lights above.
The lettering on the gable on Bridge Streetis much more like Gill Sans,
with the 'O' in 'TOLLY' a circle. Those in 'COBBOLD' below are more
The building boasts an ancient-looking corner post with
angel with spread wings. The Bull was known as The White Horse from
1607-1770, and The Compasses from 1770-83. It was called The Bull after
1784 when inn of same name located opposite (now called The Limes) was
closed and the sign was transferred. The Bull was built late 15th or
early 16th century as a Guildhall. [Pub information from Suffolk CAMRA
website, see Links.]
St John the Baptist Church
The stone butresses bear a range of lettering. To the left of
the entrance with its tiny clock tower and spire is
(see our St Peter's, Ipswich for an
The inscription above left is described by Simon Knott as a
'date' (Simon's Suffolk churches see Links).
The others are gnomic, but someone probably knows what they mean.
It was built during the second half of the 15th century, and set
high up to the right, above the tiny priest's door (making it virtually
unreadable, what with the gothic script and all) in the expanse of
restored knapped flint is an inscription carved in stone:
'Pray we all for grace, for he yt hav
holpe ys place God reward he for her ded & hev'n may be her meed.'
East Suffolk County Council 1922 bridge
Hawks Mill Street runs off High Street to the west of St John
the Baptist Church. Running down to the River Gipping the first bridge
crosses the mill race, past Hawk's Mill. The mill this was built in
at the time when roller milling was becoming popular in England; it is
listed Grade II and has been converted into flats; an Armfield turbine
was one power source, but the chimney indicated steam power was also
used. The road then crosses the river itself via a gently rising
Each of the concrete piers bears a cast iron panel
bearing the castle keep in relief and the characters:
This is one of three known examples of bridges which commemorate
Suffolk County Council. The others are at Mendham
and Southwold. See also the 'West
show on our
Ipswich County Hall page. County Hall
bears similar 'castle keep' images to those shown here on its
Although showing traces of rust, the iron panels have clearly
been painted in recent years, the raised details being picked out in
black. East Suffolk County Council was part of the
tripartite local government of Suffolk until reorganisation in 1974
when Suffolk County Council was created. The other two authorities were
West Suffolk County Council and Ipswich County Borough
(formerly Ipswich Corporation).
The tiny Pump Street is, not suprisingly, home to a small,
attractive cast iron water pump. Worth recording for the street name
and the Village pumps website (see Links)
tells us that it bears the manufacturer's name: 'Unk'.
Back at the Needham Lake end of town, the narrow Lion
Lane leads from the old main road to pass beneath the railway and
passes a mystifying signed building:
but when was this used as a mortuary?