Off licences, the traditional 'corner shops' which
served the local community
with groceries and sold alcohol as a side-line, have reflected the
of a local brewer and distributor in the town. Just as in Southwold,
the major force is Adnams, so Ipswich has been until recent years been
dominated by Tolly Cobbold.
Cobbold's The Cliff Quay Brewery has
had a chequered history and was still
in a limited way (also offering brewery museum tours) until 2002. Tolly
themselves had a poor reputation in the fifties and sixties and during
clearances of impoverished housing in the town – notably around Civic
Drive – many parlour-type ale-houses were demolished. Some say this was
loss to the
Suffolk Road Stores, 32a Suffolk Road (corner
Certain corner shops and pubs still carry the Tolly
(above in 2001) in brown lettering and
border against white faces Tuddenham Avenue; its counterpart cartouche
of the brickwork and distinct pointing encourages the eye to believe
that this is a wall sign
in ceramic tiling. The host of hand-painted and home-made signs below
only highlight the formality of the Tolly signs above.
By 2014 the shop is no more (although a central sign is still in
place), converted into a dwelling. Fortunately the corner Tolly signs
have been left. The white and cream painted brickwork bore the Tolly
sign for years until the walls were repointed causing a 'crazed' look
to the sign.
While we're here let's include the former Samuel F. Shanks' bakery and
shop (possibly a former sub-Post Office by the look of it?) nearby at 7
The Tuddenham Avenue bakery was opened in 1945 by Samuel Shanks and
continued by his sons, Grenville and Rodney. Branches were opened in
Queensway, St Johns Road, Norwich Road, Bramford Lane, Penshurst Road,
and in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe. This bakery finally closed in April
2004, but the yellow-gold lettering still stands proud of the side wall
in 2014. See our Wherstead red brick
page for an 1883 map of the brickyard which once stood on this site.
Prospect House, 38b Christchurch Street
(rear: visible from Cemetery Road)
Above is a lost piece of Tolly lettering which someone
has sought to obliterate
with whitewash (now washing down the wall).
executed long before the drainage pipe at top left was
was clearly a rear advertisement for a long-disappeared grocer at the
of Cemetery Road, fronting Christchurch Street. The dark capitals could
have been placed on a white rectangle, then overpainted in pale blue,
it might have been that the colours were the other way around.
Above: the view in 2014 from Cemetery Road; the sign from a sloping
ramp behind the three storied building.
Below: the former corner shop at 38 Christchurch Street which has the
'Prospect House' sign on its back wall (Cemetery Road on this
photograph goes off ot the right). This former
shop is just opposite Santiago Villas.
Cobbold lettering remains intact (albeit often painted the same colour
as the surrounding brickwork) on The Emperor
in Norwich Road, the Ferry Boat Inn in Old Felixstowe,
the Rampant Horse and The Bull former pub in Needham
Market, and the Shoulder of Mutton former pub in Hadleigh. Vestigial Cobbold lettering can be
seen on The
Globe and The Rose Hotel in Ipswich.
Peatling & Cawdron, 238 Bramford
The letterer's art is nowhere so well demonstrated as in the
of the former off licence 238 Bramford Road, at
the corner with Richmond
Once Peatling and Cawdron, later Victoria Wine, this business in
2010 was a grocery
The front gable spanning both the shop front and the house next door
has been sympathetically retouched in white, we think, but the
blue-grey drop shadow has been left untouched.
The whole shaping of brickwork, roof and moulded frame
seem to have been
designed for the lettering high above the street level:
A tricky navigation of the apex of the upper triangle
the word 'Wines', having the 'N' as its fulcrum (the word followed by a
large comma), is shadowed by the centralised curving word 'Bottled'
a delightful 'And' featuring long elliptical tales from the 'N'.
ALES AND STOUT'
See also the Pubs & Off-licences
page and the Tolly Cobbold House & Brewery pages.
Nacton Road beerhouse (off-licence)
[UPDATE 18.12.2018: 'I only
just discovered your site and I thought this might be of interest to
you. Just about visible behind years of paintwork on this former
beerhouse is the legend "Cobbold". It's in the panel between the two
windows on the top floor of this hair salon, on the corner of Nacton
Road and Levington Road. Nice and handy for Cliff Brewery, though as it
would undoubtedly have been serviced by horse-drawn drays, the poor
nags were probably knackered by the time they'd lumbered up Cliff Lane,
even with a stop halfway at the Margaret Catchpole (also then owned by
I've been through the licensing books at the Record Office and as far
as I can make out, this was most likely an off-sales only beerhouse. I
haven't found a definite closure date, but it appears to still have
been open in 1941 but was certainly closed by 1961. My best guess is
that the beerhouse was no more by the time the two breweries
amalgamated; if not it seems to have gone quite soon afterwards (maybe
"rationalisation"?). Cheers, Tony Green [of the Suffolk CAMRA website,
see Links].' Well-spotted, Tony.]
courtesy Tony Green
Below is the detail of the central frame/cartouche at first floor
level: 'COBBOLDS' is just readable in the right light conditions,
picked out by the roughly-filled recessed characters of the original
sign. The word sits towards the bottom of the frame.
[UPDATE 21.2.2023: 'As far as I
have been able to ascertain from research in the Records Office, this
was only ever an off-sales beerhouse, not one where it was possible to
stop for a few beers. It seems to have closed about 1933, so sadly I
was 61 years too late moving into my house in Levington Road... Tony
Green. Tony also sent a much better
view of the lettering for which our thanks.]
Cobbold's brewery ran the Cliff Quay
Brewery until 1958, when the company merged with their brewing
competitor, Tollemache (which brewed at the Staem Brewery behind the
Coach & Horses, Upper Brook Street, see our Old Cattle Market page under 'Mansions
in Ipswich: 1. The Duke of Suffolk') to become the portmanteau name
'Tolly Cobbold'. We were tipped off some years ago about this building
as a former off-licence. Our source, a born-and-bred Ipswichian, said
that there was once a painted ‘Tolly Cobbold’ sign (or similar) in the
back yard. We couldn't get near it and eventually wrote to the
hairdressing business to enquire, with no result. What we failed to do
was cross the busy road and observe the frame/cartouche at the upper
The plural ‘COBBOLDS’ – without the possessive apostrophe – compares
with the ghost sign on the Rose Hotel
which reads “COBBOLD'S ALES & SPIRITS” (as also on The Globe); there is no space for any other
lettering below in this example. Perhaps there was once something
above, such as 'OFF LICENCE'. We believe that this was an off-licence
only, given the position and character of the shop-front. We can
imagine it did a good trade here at 243 Nacton Road, on/near the
junctions of Levington Road, Clapgate Lane and Cliff Lane. Thanks to
Tony for finding this.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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