Stoke Hall Roadnot The People's Hall! (and the tunnels)

Stoke Street
Alright, let's come clean. Apart from the street signs, there is little lettering here, not that we know of. However, this was too intriguing a story to let it get away.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 12012 image
The above photograph was taken from the jaws of Rectory Road at the junction where Stoke Street to the right becomes Belstead Road. Just in passing, it is worth noting the sixties-style italic sans-serif caps (justified to the left) of the modernist building opposite:
'ST. MARY AT STOKE
CHURCH HALL'
Incidentally, it is just round the corner on the right of the above photograph that one can find some houses provided by the William Paul Tenement Trust (see More almshouses).

Stoke Hall Road
The tower of St Mary-At-Stoke church can be seen behind it and this is an historic Ipswich (or rather Over Stoke) church which deserves its own page on this website. The site of the church hall and the car park were once occupied by St Mary Stoke School and, further down,  Stoke Parish Poor House. Once the Ipswich Union Workhouse with its large garden and vegetable plots was built in Great Whip Street, this workhouse building became part of the school. They were later used by scouts and guides. Both buildings were demolished in 1964. Rather wonderfully, the person in the white motorcycle helmet wheeling a moped out of the gate in the wall in the pre-1964 image (below) is using the same gate shown above beside the traffic light. It is this wall which is of interest.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall period
The high, decorative brick wall continues up Belstead Road as far as Kirby Cottage; on the corner with Stoke Hall Road there is a brick pillar topped with a white ball finial. It all suggests that the wall seems a bit tall and substantial for modest terraced houses. It seems clear that parts of this wall are a reconstruction made during the building of the houses in the early 20th century. Kirby Cottage, a listed building, stands at right-angles to Belstead Road and above the Stoke Hall site; it could well be that it provided quarters for servants of Stoke Hall.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 3
Stoke Hall Road was the site of, guess what?: Stoke Hall. Not to be confused with the so-called "Stoke Hall" ('The People's Hall') near The Old Bell pub. Between 1898, when The People's Hall was built, and 1915, until the Stoke Hall behind St Mary-at-Stoke church was demolished, there were two 'Stoke Halls' within a few hundred yards of one another. The only thing left of the old hall is the stable block, but it contains a secret...
Stoke Hall was a large mansion house built by the wine merchant Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45 (see the illustrations towards the bottom of this web page). Cartwright also excavated beneath Stoke hill a large series of wine cellars, 18 in all, and a total of 180 feet in length.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 4

The Stoke Hall tunnels
The official listing describes the tunnels: "Vaulted wine cellars. Later C18, with some C19 and C20 modifications. red brick, with some flared headers, in English, Flemish mixed bonds. On 3 levels all underground, the upper level projecting further south towards the garden boundary of Landsdale Cottage and Belstead Road, the lower level extending further north towards Burrell Road, and formerly the river. Circa 180 feet in length. The lowest level comprises a single range of vaults, the middle level of both parallel and single ranges, the upper level a shorter parallel range. Part partitions between bays, those to lowest level with semicircular headed brick archways. Shallow brick vaulted roofs. Later brick side shelving at intervals. The second level was rendered during World War II for use as an air raid shelter. Brick floors, except to lowest level which descends to natural rock and sand. Brick spiral stair unites middle and lower levels. Blocked lower level circular hole in floor. Access to vaults now through superstructure. Evidence of further openings obscured by render. Said to have a capacity of 157, 500 gallons of wine. It is possible that these vaults were those built for Thomas Cartwright, winemerchant builder of Stoke Hall, now demolished, in 1747. The above ground warehouses, formerly stables etc to Stoke Hall, are not of special architectural or historic interest."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 5
The access to the tunnels is via an external staircase to the left of the large red door. To the right, you can see the sloping housing over a conveyor used to transport cases of wine; this was removed during wartime and a staircase installed for use as an air raid shelter. A conveyor is in situ today. One source states that up to 200 people could use the shelter during bombing raids, however, David Jones mentions 'more than 500 people' (see below). All this poses the question: what did the 18th century excavators find amongst the (presumably) fossil-rich soils of Stoke hill? We know that in 1846 when the Eastern Union Railway company's Peter Bruff engineered the tunnel through the hill (later called 'Stoke Bone Beds'), archaeologists, notably Nina Frances Layard (1853 – 1935), found fossilised evidence of exotic prehistoric animals, some of which can be seen today in Ipswich Museum. It is possible that the railway tunnel was cut through at a considerably lower level, which would be much earlier in geological time. In 2013 the main part of the old stables is occupied by Suffolk Marquees (see Links) with a motorcycle mechanic business next door. We are grateful to Ian of Suffolk Marquees for showing us round and sharing information about this intriguing site.

Tunnel exploration 2013
As one descends to the tunnels via the narrow external staircase, it becomes obvious how difficult it is to determine the age of any particular feature. The tunnels were used as air-raid shelters during World War II, when Ipswich docks and engineering works in particular were targets for the Luftwaffe. It seems clear that many of the features were probably built during the war. Small doorways and separation walls would be a nuisance when the tunnels were being used to store wine, but they would have been useful to protect those sheltering from bomb blasts. The rendering of the brickwork and girder lintels probably date from this time.

Wine cellars

 
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 62013 images  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 10
A chamber cement-rendered during World War II and now painted white, opens onto a furhter room. Who knows about this wrought iron cell door at the end? Was it original? It covers the entrance to what has been called 'The Champagne Store', which contains connected ceramic pipes which would have made a rather effective method of storing the bottles on their sides. They are in a sorry state.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 11   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 12  

Standing in front of a spiral staircase leading to a lower level are a couple of shaped timber frames which would have supported the wine bottles.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 17   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 20
The close-ups below indicate age in the timber, the impressed lettering:
'M&C'
standing presumably for 'Moet & Chandon', one of the world's largest champagne producers. Moët et Chandon was establishedin France in 1743. Thomas Cartwright, who had Stoke Hall and its tunnels built in the 1740s would, if we make the obvious assumption, have imported the wine in bottles by ship, landing at a nearby wharf, probably Stoke Bridge Wharf (see our Wet Dock map) and being brought up to the Hall by cart. Storing in the cool, dark conditions would be followed by distribution via a local company such as Barwell & Jones, who ran off licences in the area – in the 1980s we used to visit one on the corner of Rushmere Road and Schreiber Road. Incidentally, in 2013 Barwell & Jones is the independent wine agency business of the Coe Group. Ironically, Hayman, Barwell & Jones were rumoured to have a tunnel beneath their premises in Fore Street which linked to the Stoke Hall tunnels (see our paragraph on tunnel myths below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 18   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 19  

The tunnels as World War II air-raid shelter

Looking at the tunnel photograph (below left), to the right of the doorway can be seen a notice dating back to the wartime (a remarkable survival) , or perhaps more correctly, the impression of a notice left on the damp rendered wall:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall tunnels 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 15   
The text reads:-
Medical Attendance
at Public Air Raid Shelters.

[In an] emergency the following doctors have agreed
[to respond] to requests for assistance from Public
[Air] Raid Shelters in the vicinity of their house.


Dr. HERMIONE BOURTON[?],
Fairway, Bucklesham, Road.
Phone No. 7295.

Dr. LOUISE HYDER (Mrs.),
343, Colchester Road.
Phone No. 7177.

Dr. R.J. REA,
236A Felixstowe Road.
Phone No. 2469.

Dr. C.S. STADDON,
174, Norwich Road.
Phone No. 78807.

Dr. E. [W?] STADDON,
South Bank, Spring Road.
Phone No. 78807.

Dr. A.R. WALTERS,
40 Berners Street.
Phone No. 3259.

Dr. L.M. HAMP,
7 Dalton Road.
Phone No. 2469.

[Final passage unreadable.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 9
A metal flue would have provided ventilation and the patina of rust demonstrates the effects of the extreme dampness of the atmosphere in the tunnels. The introduction of hundreds of individuals during Air-Raid alerts would have greatly increased the humidity in the tunnels.

The photograph below is a peach. The arrow and lettering:
'EMERGENCY
EXIT'
must surely date back to the air raids, but look undegraded by time and dampness. No doubt the rickety, rusty ladder is a later addition, but climbing up it gives a view of the original brickwork vaulting (shown below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 25
Tunneled into the stony, sandy Stoke Hill, then lined out as a weight-bearing barrel-vault in Suffolk red brick: quite a feat in the difficult conditions and lack of access. The image to the right is looking vertically at the apex of a barrel-vault with a ventilation flue in the centre.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 29   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 23
Former Ipswich Museum curator, David Jones’ fine book Ipswich in the Second World War (see Reading List) tells us more:-
“The largest public shelters were the pre-existing cellars in Stoke Hall Road, the only shelter [in Ipswich] to hold more than 500 people. The records suggest a shelter de luxe. Like other public shelters, it had illuminated signs which were switched on in line with the blackout and off at 10.30 or during an alert. It was heated by a Cara stove. It had its own stirrup-pump, two buckets and fire extinguishers. In addition to a first aid box, [part] was set aside for a casualty holding section provided with extra lights. The emergency exit was purposely widened to take stretchers. A small canteen was set up at which tea and biscuits could be bought. (There were others at Smiths Suitall, Smyth Brothers, Central Cinema, Smiths Albion House, Co-op Furnishing Department and the Lads Club cellars.) As the intensity of raids diminished so, too, did the numbers using the shelters regularly. The Emergency Committee found, on 3 April 1944, '21 familes, 46 persons use the shelter habitually. Nine had no domestic shelters, two Andersons with bunks, six Andersons no bunks and four Morrisons. The shelter families allowed to continue to use Stoke Hall but felt that the Morrisons would be reallocated if needed.'
By 1 March 1945 only 14 people were still using the shelter so part of it could be closed."

Rubber tyre storage
Not too long ago, the tunnels were used by a tyre company to store their wares. There are a great deal of chalked (and sometimes painted) stock numbers and descriptions on the wall. The chalk seems to blossom out from the damp cement surface. As you can see by the right-hand images below, some tyres still lie around in one part of the catacombs.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 24

St Mary-at-Stoke Church
The relationship between the 1744/5 Hall and the nearby St Mary-at-Stoke Church is illustrated by the photographs below. This substantial wall, about 7 feet high, divides the churchyard from the present gardens of the houses on the west side of Stoke Hall Road. As mentioned above, the Hall had its own entrance to the churchyard, although we haven't been able to locate it. The fascade of the Hall would have stood about a third of the way into the present Stoke Hall Road, with fairly narrow gardens leading up to the drive just the other side of this wall Apparently, long before Stoke Street and Burrell Road (see Street name derivations) existed, a sloping drive was cut into the rather precipitous hill on which the church stands, but outside the wall line which still exists. It followed the curve of the churchyard wall and eventually led to the Hall, ending in a circle by the front door. A staircase apparently still exists at the Burrell Road end of the Stoke Hall stables site and runs down what we can only describes as 'the cliff' which overlooks the small gardens at the back of the Burrell Road houses. The stairs lead to yet another entrance to the tunnels. There was a summer house/gazebo in the gardens at the top which would have overlooked the Gipping as it became the Orwell in the much wider, pre-canalised river at or near the foot of the cliff (see the illustrations below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 36   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 37
Stoke Hall suffered perhaps from the location which made it desirable in the first place. It was probably one of several residences built up Belstead Road in what would have been quite remote, private spots. As time moved on and road, then rail, and housing development in Over Stoke grew, the sizeable house would be seen to be on a restricted piece of land, less desirable for wealthy owners perhaps because of the proximity of heavy industry, smoke, noise and so on, not to mention the working classes. Perhaps the number of owners and the decay and eventual demolition in 1915 is not such a surprise, when The Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society, who bought the site, had been at the forefront of building affordable housing (notably in 'California' – discussed in our Rosehill case study page) for large numbers of inhabitants of the Victorian town.

John Bleadon
From Colleen McDonald 13.7.2015
John Bleaden of Stoke
Hello, I'm on the ancestor hunt and came across your website. I'm hoping you can fill in some gaps for me. I am wondering what the connection the Bleaden family is to Stoke Hall and to Ipswich. Do you have any idea what Stoke Hall was in 1819?
My 4th Great Grandfather, John Bleaden's obit:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 2Memorial in St Mary Stoke Church

 Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 3Marriage details of Mary Bleadon, 1803
Images courtesy Colleen McDonald

Tunnel myths
Having no idea as to their origin, people began making up tales about these underground workings, that were used as air raid shelters in World War Two. A tunnel was said to lead from there to the 'folly' called Freston Tower, on the banks of the Orwell. Probably built between 1550-1560 by Edmund Latymer, this red bricked six-storey building was perhaps a 'standing' or look-out tower of some kind. A second passage from Stoke Hall ran to Greyfriars Priory, near where the ring road (here Franciscan Way) crosses Princes Street. The priory was founded sometime before 1236, and only a segment of flint walling now remains, incorporated into the Greyfriars Concourse. On the north side of the river, the Woolpack pub  in Tuddenham Road is said to have had smuggler's tunnels running south to the dock area. There are allegedly deep (and supposedly haunted) cellars beneath the Fore Street site of the wine merchant Hayman, Barwell & Jones, which are said to form part of a system of tunnels. They are rumoured to link up with the Ancient House in Buttermarket, the 19th century Custom House in Key Street, Christchurch Mansion to the north, and the site of Holywells manor to the south-east. The Coach and Horses Inn used to stand in Lower Brook Street. On the opposite side of the road were the premises of Messrs. E. L. Hunt, that were on the site of a mansion house owned by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and husband of Mary Tudor. A tunnel was said to connect the two.
The Ancient House (or Sparrowe's House) stands in the Buttermarket, at the corner of St. Stephen's Lane.  In 1801 a workman falling thru the roof came upon a hidden room, supposedly part of a pre-Reformation chapel. It has long been believed that Charles II was secreted in that room after the battle of Worcester in 1651, and thus has arisen the tale of his escape by secret tunnel from the Ancient House to Alnesbourne Priory in Nacton parish, about 3 miles away. Now Priory Farm, the only part remaining of this Augustinian house, founded around 1200, is a part of the wall of a barn. Not too far away from the Buttermarket is The Halberd (later Paddy McGinty's) pub in Northgate Street, where a bricked-up entrance into Ipswich's vast tunnel system is to be found in the cellar. The ghostly monk that haunts the pub is said to have helped someone come from 'the monastery' through the tunnels, and for his pains was murdered by being drowned in the old well that can be seen in the lower bar.

Urban myth heaven: if we desire
hard enoughsomething to be true, it may just become true. Many such myths can be found on The Lost Expedition: in search of legends, stories and tales from around Suffolk website (see Links).

The Hall
As mentioned, Stoke Hall was a large mansion house built by the wine merchant Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45. Cartwright also excavated beneath Stoke hill a vast series of wine cellars. In 1892 the Hall was up for sale following the death of the owner Robert James Ransome (1830-1891) of Ransomes and Rapier, railway engineers, whose factory was quite close by at the Waterside Works on Griffin Wharf (see our Wet Dock map). See our précis of the company at the bottom of this page. The auctioneers described it as a “Fine Old Mansion” boasting three reception rooms, billiard room, six principal bedrooms on the first floor, seven more bedrooms on the second floor, with kitchens, offices, greenhouse, stabling, pleasure and kitchen gardens, all standing in 1 acre three roods of land and adjacent to the church of St Mary-at-Stoke. Written in the margin of the auctioneer’s notices of 1892 are details of (what appear to be) subsequent owners including Dr Elliston, Miss Battersly of Cauldwell Hall, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who sold it to the Ipswich Freehold Land Society in July 1914. During its time in the ownership of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners it was under consideration for use as the residence of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, being next to the church and with the Hall having its own entrance to the churchyard. The house in its decayed state was pulled down in 1915 at a cost of £50, but the cellars remained. Stoke Hall Road was created with a row of F.L.S. houses which we see today. The stables of the Hall were not demolished and continued to be used – latterly by a local removals company then a motor repair shop. We must be careful to distinguish between Stoke Hall and the mansion and grounds of Lord Gwydyr's Stoke Park, which was not far away (see our Bourne Park page for an image and description), probably on, or near, the site of the new Asda supermarket on Stoke Park Drive.

These illustrations of Stoke Hall show a substantial Georgian residence overlooking the Gipping valley below.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall drawing   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall engraving
Below: a photograph of Stoke Hall from c. 1905 plus description by the Over Stoke Local History Group which gives further morsels of information about the house and grounds.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall photo

On Pennington's map of 1778 we can see St Mary Stoke Church at the lower left
corner of this map detail, with Stoke Hall, then the stable block to the south-west of it. The line of 'Stoke Lane' (now Stoke Street) comes up from The Old Bell corner curving steeply left, then right as it does today, past the Workhouse south of the church and into Belstead Road.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Bell map1778 map

In the mid-19th Century, a carriage drive leading to Stoke Hall was built around the curving northern boundary of the churchyard as can clearly be seen on E. E. White's Map of c.1867 (below). The start of this driveway can still be made out today as it rises among the trees between the churchyard wall and the existing brick retaining wall to the west of the
junction of Stoke Street/'Burrell Street' – as it is labelled here. If you delve around among the grass and ivy on the corner, you can find the top of one of the original gate posts at the entrance to this carriage drive. On the map Vernon Street has been cut through, causing demolition of part of The Old Bell public house near to Stoke Bridge.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall mapRetouched 1867 image
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall map 17801780 map
Hodkinson & Jefferys (Faden) map of 1780 – detail above – shows the layout of river, lanes and structures on the Stoke side of the bridge. Bridge Street runs from the town centre southwards past the Stoke tide mill, over the river and across the Stoke Street/Dock Lane junction into the narrower Bell Lane beside The Old Bell public house. It meets Little Whip Street which runs eastwards to meet Great Whip Street (the north end of which is the site of the original ford over the Orwell to reach the town before a bridge was built. Stoke Hall, with the oval carriage drive in front is shown with its long stable block and outbuildings (most still standing today). The 'Work House' fronting Belstead Road is labelled; this was later a school (see the monochrome image of the building at the top of this web page).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Johnson 1
Above: Isaac Johnson's sketch map and illustrations of Stoke Hall – taken from Blatchly: Isaac Johnson, see Reading list. The  cartouche contains the text:
‘STOKE HALL
in IPSWICH Suffolk
with the Buildings, Gardens, Yards
PLANTATIONS & MEADOWS
The Property of
WM. TURNER, ESQR.
Aug. 1792.’
The detail below shows the hall and church as pictograms, rather than accurate aerial views with stable block and gardens. The sharp gradient down to the river is indicated by hatching and beyond a slightly puzzling, short 'Canal', which must surely be a rectangular man-made lake in 'Canal Meadow'. the land to the left of this is Waterhouse Meadow: see our Water in Ipswich page for another Johnson sketch map of this area showing how a water pipe from the Stoke Hall estate provided a supply over the river to the Priory of St Peter & St Paul and the northern quays.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Johnson 2

The small hamlet of Stoke developed from the medieval period. The name is a contraction of 'stockade', as it was an easily defendable spot above the river and marshes. The site of the present day river bridge was the most accessible crossing point from high ground to the south of the River Gipping over the largely impassable Corporation Marshes to the north, into the town centre of Ipswich. St Mary Stoke Church (Listed Grade I) was built on the most favorable local site, a promontory which rose steeply up from the river and which enabled the church to be seen over a wide area. St Mary's dates from the 15th Century (the date of its hammer beam roof) or earlier, but was extensively enlarged and restored by London architect William Butterfield in 1870- 71. Clearly this site would have been a favourable place for Thomas Cartwright's
1744 mansion on the area behind the church.

[UPDATE 19.12.2013: "I have just been reading your web site regarding Stoke Hall and would like to add a few comments.
1.  Barwells Wine Merchants were a subsidiary of Tollemaches Breweries before the amalgamation with Cobbold & Co and there was a further amalgamation with T. G. Jones of Oxford probably in the late 1950s, prior to this Cobbolds had their own wine division based in Lower Brook St. which had outlets in Great Colman Street, Nacton Road and Rushmere Road and probably others. Barwell and Jones was later housed in the listed building [The Wheatsheaf], 24 Fore Street which was originally the residence of the Manager of the Bottling Dept of Tollemaches Breweries.
2.  I was surprised that you were unable to establish the gateway between the Hall and the churchyard as I can remember this old boarded gate when a choirboy at St. Marys in the 1940s. 
As a matter of interest my father, who was bought up at 26 Stoke Street, used to play in the tunnels of the Hall as a boy.
I joined the choir at St. Mary (at) Stoke in Sept 1947 and am still there.
I started work in 1951 at Tollemaches Breweries Ltd based in Upper Brook Street (my office can still be seen from the street) and continued working in the Surveyors Dept until the firm’s demise. Moving to Pubmaster thereafter and still looking after the public houses in the town and further afield. Hope this is of interest. Regards, Ken Brock"   Many thanks to Ken for getting in touch and furnishing further details.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Barwell & Jones
Above – the Tollemache / Barwell & Jones chronology from The brewing industry: a guide to historical records by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton. Manchester University Press, 1990.

Newcomers to Ipswich and, we suspect, many current residents don't know the difference between Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies (manufacturers of ploughs and tillage machinery, steam engines, grass-cutting equipment, trolleybuses, threshers, tractors, combines, electric trucks)  and...

Ransomes & Rapier
Engineers and makers of machinery for railways and all kinds of public works.
Waterside Works, Griffin Wharf, Ipswich, and 32 Victoria St, London. Griffin Wharf was an appropriate site for the railway-supplier works. The opening of the Eastern Union Railway in 1846
from Colchester to the first terminus station at nearby Croft Street later became engine sheds and sidings once Stoke Tunnel was built by Peter Bruff (who lived at Handford Lodge); eventually the present Ipswich station opened on Burrell Road in 1860.

1869 Formed as branch of Ransomes, Sims and Head to concentrate on the railway side of the business and other heavy works. Four engineers, J. A. Ransome, R. J. Ransome, R. C. Rapier and A. A. Bennett, left the company by agreement to establish the new company on a site on the River Orwell. The original partners were Allen Ransome, his son Robert James Ransome
[owner of Stoke Hall] and Richard Christopher Rapier‏‎. Chairs, points and rails were made. They also built steam and breakdown cranes; portable and stationary engines.
1875 James Allen Ransome died.
1876 Three small locomotives made and exported to China.
1890 All-Round Titan Railway Crane. Illustrations and article in The Engineer.
1896 Became a public limited company. The company was registered on 17 April, to acquire the business of engineers of the firm of the same name.
1897 Two 30-ton travelling steam cranes for construction of Vera Cruz Harbour.
1904 Installed 5 sets of the largest hydraulic buffer stops at Kings Cross station, London, and another 5 sets at the Central Station, Glasgow.
1914 Engineers and ironfounders. Manufacturers of hand, steam, petrol and electric cranes, traversers and turntables, capstans, tanks, water cranes and pumps, bridges, hydraulic buffer stops, castings, contractors' and railway plant, "Stoney" sluices, ice and refrigerating plants, concrete mixers etc.
1937 Engineers and ironfounders.
1939 Aircraft industry suppliers specialising in launching catapults for aeroplanes. Rapier catapults have been supplied to the British Admiralty and to certain foreign navies, but were also useful on shore. Ransomes and Rapier were the originators of mobile cranes, which have been used for many years on British and foreign airports and elsewhere. Being fitted with pneumatic tyres they are essential wherever aeroplanes are in use.
1958 Newton, Chambers and Co. acquired Ransomes and Rapier; purchased by exchange of shares.
1960 Advert for Walking Draglines for mining.
1961 Engineers and ironfounders, specialising in contractors' plant, mobile cranes, excavators, walking draglines, railway plant and equipment, sluice gates and water control machinery. 2,000 employees.
1963 Newton, Chambers and Co. sold 40% of Ransomes and Rapier to Koerhing of Milwaukee in a share deal.
1965 Ceased making walking drag lines because of the rise of oil and reduction in use of coal.
1972 Newton, Chambers and Co. planned to close Ransome and Rapiers and move the business to Thorncliffe but the group was taken over by industrial holding company Central and Sheerwood who kept Ipswich open.
1976 Ransomes returned to making walking drag lines in view of the increased use of coal.
1988 Bucyrus-Erie acquired the dragline assets of Ransomes and Rapier Ltd.
[The above information comes from Grace's Guide, see Links]

See our Ransomes page for a photograph of a Ransomes & Rapier buffer housing from a railway in Kalka, India.




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