paints & wallpapers
Collins's Agency, 6 Norwich Road
& Collins's Agency, Palmers
Bakery, Shelley's barber shop
One interesting shop-front at the beginning of Norwich
Road, only noticed at the end of 2020, features a remarkable mosaic
doorstep in front of the recessed entrance to the right of the
The recessed entrance to the left (no. 8) has a decorative
doorstep with no lettering. The green ceramic surrounds suggest that
this was initially one business (possibly a pub?). The
entrance to the right with the mosaic sign is the access to the upper
floor, presumably offices from where the agency business was conducted.
Today it appears to be accomodation.
2021 images courtesy
This is a very narrow doorway, so it is surpising that an
's-apostrophe-s' has been employed, rather than 'Collins' Agency' which
today is perfectly acceptable. It is a fine piece of work, The
lettering sits on a scroll, with paisley curlicues in the corners – the
front section is truncated by the pillaster. The variety of coloured
tesserae spread throughout the white background acts in the same way as
the painting Broadway boogie woogie
by Piet Mondrian (1942-43) which caused the eye to move all over the
Below left: the impressive bottle green ceramic upright to the
right of the doorstep shows deep cracks, perhaps due to movement of the
building over time. The
big question, of course, is: what sort of agency is this? Detective,
nursing, employment? Our money is on the last of these – more research
Above right: the decorative mosaic doorstep to the shop
at no. 8 Norwich Road. Definitely laid at the same time
as the lettered step, but was it originally
a separate business?
Serjeants paints & wallpapers,
37 Norwich Road
Every now and then we get a glimpse of a sign from a previous
shopfront, easy to cover up with modern wood, plastics, neon and so on.
See also C.J. Hawes in Wherstead Road and
H.T. Ablett on the seafront at Felixstowe.
This one seems to have lost its single strip of plastic (see the
foot of this page) in November 2014. Thanks to Janette Robinson for the
The serif'd drop-shadow capitals of 'PAINTS' and
'WALLPAPERS' either side of the cursive drop-shadow treatment
of the proprietors: 'Serjeants' (no possessive
apostrophe): it all takes us back to a time when a small shop could
stock these products and not be squeezed out of the market by warehouse
DIY stores on the edges of towns. At the time that these photographs
were taken, these huge emporia are themselves seeking ways in which
their stores can be reduced in size/changed to other uses.
A glimpse of the shop as it was before the sign came off:
Directly opposite this shop is the Maharani
'Lovely photos, this was my parents' shop,; they went to NZ in 1952 but
I believe the company was well established for many years before this.
We still run a family business in Bury St Edmunds: Excell Building
Services Ltd. I would love to get hold of the signage if
it’s still in existence , what a thing to have. Mum was friends with
Winny Rivett of the motorcycle shop and pink Sneezums the jeweller's
shop in the same road. Do you have photos I can have I might be able to
have them reproduced, you never know. Anyway you made my year with the
photos and information. We had a lot of family in Ipswich we were also
related to the Bolton’s who has a brickyard on Norwich road near the
Ferodo bridge. My Grandfather "Lee Whatling" was a builder in Ipswich
and built a lot of the council homes between the wars; he was a
carpenter like myself and also a bit of an inventor. Martin Leonard
Serjeant. Thanks to Martin for
getting in touch. See our Brickyards
page (Yard number 5)for more on Bolton's yard.]
The Stradbroke Bakery, 5A
[UPDATE April 2016: Sadly the
tiny Palmers Bakery shop a little towards the town on Norwich Road has
TAKEAWAY – BREAD – SNACKS – CONFECTIONERY
Palmers of Haughley Est. 1869'
The signs have been removed to reveal 'The STRADBROKE
BAKERY, TAKE-AWAY SNACKS'.
The Stradbroke Bakery still operates from Eye in
Suffolk, supplying local retailers.
Palmers still have a retail outlet in Meredith Road. The following
information is taken from and EADT
article, 23 August 2013, by James Marston.
"Haughley is a picture perfect
Suffolk village and since 1869 the Palmer family have ensured that the
village has its daily bread.
Today the Suffolk-wide family
business is run by father and son team Kenneth and Kieron Palmer and
still maintains the traditional baking methods that were used by their
forefathers. Keiron, 39, said: “We bought it as a going concern in 1869
but there has been baking on the site since about 1750. It was bought
by my great-great-grandfather William James Palmer. The business passed
to his son William Ewart Gladstone Palmer who developed the business by
buying a farm and a mill and property. It passed to my grandfather
,Roy, who died in 1989 and is now run by my father ,Kenneth, and me.”
It is a rich heritage and one that
the business is hugely proud of. Kieron said that over the years, as
lifestyles have changed, the business has changed and developed to meet
people’s needs. “We stopped home deliveries in the 1980s. No one is at
home during the day anymore, everyone works.” Today from the Haughley
bake house, Palmers supplies eight of its own shops in Haughley,
Stanton, Woolpit, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Needham Market and Claydon.
Keiron said: “The mill is now closed
and the farmland is contracted but the company still has a portfolio of
about 200 residential and commercial properties across the UK.”
Originally the site of Norman market stalls when Haughley was a
bustling town, the bake house itself dates from Tudor times. Inside the
ceilings are low and timbered as the bakers tidy up from the night’s
baking shift. Kieron, who learnt his skills as a baker from his father
and grandfather, said the company still uses 200-year-old brick ovens
to bake around 5,000 loaves of bread a week as well as a variety of
artisan breads, cakes and pastries. He added: “We are short staffed at
the moment so I started work at 2am. The first shift starts at 1am to
9am, the next shift works from 5am to 1pm and the final shift works
from 1pm to about 6pm. Everything is made on site and we transport the
goods ourselves to our bakeries and customers.”
As the consumer becomes ever more
discerning following food production issues such as the recent
horsemeat scandal, Palmers has noticed an increase in trade.
“We have survived two World Wars and
the Great Depression. Business is good at the moment. Businesses have
been through difficult times in recent years and though people still
need to eat they do cut back. We have noticed an increase in demand
recently.” Tourists have also boosted trade in the bakeries. He added:
“Tourism seems to be increasing and more and more people are staying at
home and holidaying in the UK.” Using simple ingredients - flour,
butter, sugar, eggs, salt, yeast – Palmers aims to source ingredients
locally. Kieron said the family business also benefits from loyal and
long serving staff. He said: “There is a sense of community here in
Haughley and it is a very pretty village.
“As much as we can we maintain those
traditional values of personal service and high quality products.” And
what’s it like working with other family members? Kieron is diplomatic.
He said: “Its fine. Though we do enjoy the odd lively discussion.”
Presumably there is no connection to the Palmers Door Mats sign in Upper Orwell
Butcher's sign, 39 Norwich Road
Although it is not lettered, this striking sign is
situated high up on the gable above the shop.
‘A man stares out from under curly black hair with prominent
eyes with a curved knife between bad teeth teeth. The head is set on a
panel under the pediment at top house, above a pedimented second storey
window. The upper storeys of the house, now a fast food outlet, are
framed by elegant capitals, suggesting that a date from around the
1890s. The head is surprising, suggesting an assassin rather than a
trade sign, but Kelly's Suffolk
Directory of 1908 p.226 lists William Orford as a butcher at no.
39 Norwich Road, Ipswich. He may well have commissioned both the
elegant shop and the sign.’ The
public sculpture of Norfolk & Suffolk website.
One wonders if the nearby Orford Street is named after the
butcher – or the Suffolk port.
Shelley's barber shop, 86
images courtesy Fraser Yates
'An old sign recently appeared for just a few hours when
refurbishment was taking place in Norwich Road and I happened to be
passing. I have attached in case it is of interest for the website.
Many will remember their visits to Shelley’s; part off the fabric of
Ipswich (and beyond). Shelleys was a traditional mens’ barbers and had
been going since before the 1930s. In the 1950s I remember going there
and all 4 (or 5) chairs being attended; it was a busy place. In the
later years it was run by Chris from Stowmarket with just one chair
being used, but all the fittings being virtually as they were in the
1950s. Regards, Fraser Yates.' Many thanks to Fraser for the photographs
Also in Norwich Road: the Maharani
For other shop proprietor signs, see C.J.
Hawes, Shortis Motorist Discount Store,
Brunswick Road Post Office.
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