Parliament Road, Upper Orwell Street/Courts, Northgate Street

Parliament Road
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Parliament Road2001 image
'Parliament Road' is a (presumably) cast iron sign which must have been fixed to the brickwork of the end-of-terrace on the corner with Freehold Road. The later pebbledash finish provides a snug frame for the sign which the present owner (again presumably) keeps sharply painted (in negative!) to catch the eye. Other negative paint-jobs on Street nameplates can be found at Dog's Head Street and Vernon Street.

Upper Orwell Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Orwell St sign
2014 image
This cast iron street nameplate with its characteristic supetior 'T' has both angled clamps around the edge and three screw-hole drilled above the characters to fix it to the brickwork above the café opposite The Spread Eagle public house. There is a water hydrant oval medallion as a bonus (see Street furniture for an explanation).

Upper Orwell Courts
Upper Orwell Courts 2014 b2014 imagesUpper Orwell Courts 2014 a
A street name redolent of times gone by. This small lane off 'The Wash' as Upper Orwell and Lower Orwell Streets were once known, now runs up to the parallel Bond Street: the only street to link the two above Eagle Street. Now virtually a mere footway, it is blessed with this impressive (and unusually shaped) thick, cast iron sign at The Wash end. Someone cares enough to maintain the paintwork of the relief lettering; it contrasts strongly with the neglect of the similar vintage Bridge Street sign. We read with some interest that in a past century such was the flow of water down this way from Majors Corner, past Stepples Street towards the Wet Dock, that a man was prosecuted for erecting an illegal water wheel.
Cold Dunghills
It appears that Upper Orwell Courts was the site of  'Cold Dunghills'.  'In the 19th century it was quoted as being a “filthy, dirty, foul slum, full of disease and undesirable elements”. In 1861 it comprised some 20 tenements and 66 inhabitants, and it remained the poorest part of Ipswich. In October 1867 the residents petitioned to have the name changed and it became known as Upper Orwell Court, the name it still retains today. The area was not entirely cleared until just before 1939. No reason is known why it was extra-parochial, but with a name like this it could have been an original waste-land where the town sewage was deposited.  It was just the other side of the town ramparts.  In 1632 it is recorded as “Cole Dunghill”.  ‘Cole’ is the early English for ‘charcoal’, and waste-land was frequently utilised for the making of charcoal. Charcoal and dung are both used for fuel in many parts of the world today. Whichever way it is regarded, ‘waste-land’ was frequently extra-parochial because nobody wanted to go there to collect taxes.' [Information from Planet Ipswich website, see Links

The 1881 map below shows a very different road layout. Waterworks Street appears at the lower right at the junction with Eagle Street. The thoroughfare was continued northwards to St Helens Street and called Bond Street. It looks as if, given a bit of road widening, it used the line of Upper Orwell Courts, which we now discover was 'L' shaped. Five addresses up from The Spread Eagle at the crossroads, is The Eagle Tavern, site of the Palmer's Door Mats sign. Incidentally, The Bulls' Head public house is shown at this date, across the top of Fore Street from The Spread Eagle, later to become part of the Martin & Newby shop.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Orwell Courts map
Just up the road on the other side is Union Street down which is the ancient trace of the sign for Charles Court; see our 1880s map of the courts and yards for an image.

Dove Yard
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Dove Yard sign 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Dove Yard sign 22014 images
Above left: The Dove public house (in 2014 inexplicably entitled The Dove Street Inn) on the corner of Dove Lane, to its right the former Newstead's bakery shop and, now bricked up, the former Nippin café. All these front St Helens Street. The classic cast iron street sign: 'DOVE YARD' is seen above the entry by the former shopfront, an echo of the 19th century Potteries area full of Courts & yards. The clear, bold sans serif capitals and surround are in deep relief against the white background to enable clear readability.

Northgate Street

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Northgate St sign 3
The familiar cast iron style street sign can be seen opposite The Halberd Inn:
'NORTHGATE ST.'
2004  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Northgate Street 22014 image
Above left: Here the studs fixing the sign to the rendered brickwork are clearly visible, as is the fact that the Alexandra Hair Designs salon has covered the whole thing in their beige masonry paint! (Ten years later, order has been restored and a signwriter has picked out the characters and frame in black.) The superior 'T' above a full stop in 'ST.' marks this street sign out as a partner to the now extinct Bridge Street near Stoke Bridge and the Lower Brook Street sign. Before metal street and road signs, the names were sometimes painted onto brickwork; see Lancaster Road for some vestiges. See our Ipswich Transport Museum page for some rescued examples of street name plates.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Green & Hatfield period Just for interest's sake, here's a period image of that 'Northgate St.' wall, when the street sign was sited near the pavement: a riot of drop-shadow capitals - probably in two colours against a tinted cream-washed rendered wall:

'GREEN & HATFIELD
ANTIQUES [vertical]

LARGE
SHOW
ROOMS

THE OLD
CURIOSITY
SHOP'

Green & Hatfield's 'Old Curiosity Shop' on the corner of Northgate Street and St Margaret's Street (a squib of a street running unnoticed from St Helen's Street at Major's Corner and into Crown Street) was once a well-known landmark of Ipswich. You can see the shelves of antiquarian books through the front window – as you used to be able to do in the window of the collector's shop 'Atfield & Daughter' (the wonderful building The Sun Inn) in St Stephen's Lane. Mr Green retired from the business and in the early 1980s was still living in the large house built in 1850 (it had it's own chaise house in the large garden, which still stands today) which stand on the corner of Belle Vue Road and Woodbridge Road between Russell Villas and Shaftesury Villas.

See our Street nameplates page for many other examples of the styles in which we sign roads and streets.


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No reproduction of text or images without express written permission