The Hairdresser / R. Boby Engineer
7 Tavern Street
Street, opposite the entrance to The Walk (see our Plaques page) you
panels which someone has done their best to expunge. They still (just!)
advertise the wares of a previous shop - it is Woottons the
hairdresser [thanks for the information to Trevor an ex-Ipswichian
exiled in Norfolk (left
the town in 1957) from the Guestbook].
[UPDATE 2.9.2012: "It
definitely was Woottons. This is really going to date me, my Mum
would take me there to have my hair cut when I was a child. Carolyn
"Since reading your web site, I have been more alert to writing on
- it was only a few weeks ago that I noticed writing above Boots/Tower
Ramparts in Tavern Street. Keep up the good work. Tina Hammond"]
January 2010: Dave
Riseborough sent in some much better images of Wootton's advertising –
we're pretty confident about the double-'t' –
to whom our thanks.]
Here are the five panels on the first floor of 7 Tavern Street, once
the home of a great emporium run by the Wootton family, selling fancy
products to the gentry. Now it's the Carphone Warehouse. At the time of
these photographs an estate agent's board obscured part of the
What an odd litany of services and goods Wootton's must have provided...
PANEL 1 (above left):
PANEL 2 (above right):
PANEL 3 (above left):
(in larger, white, sans serif font)
PANEL 4 (above right):
illegible behind burglar alarm)
five images courtesy Dave Riseborough] 2013
PANEL 5 (above) is obscured by the estate agent's sign, but the 2013
view (above right) reveals a little more of the lettering:
We're reasonably sure on
'FREQUENCY'. The final word (there surely must be one?) has been
scrubbed from the brick surface: 'TREATMENTS', perhaps? What sort of
high frequencies might be involved?
History of Woottons
The large white-painted
area above the first storey windows probably bore the company name (see
the 1958 photograph below to confirm this).
Deciphering these panels
has probably damaged our eyesight for good (and we're quite open to
correction about the interpretation). The panels all display a pale or
white background with maroon chequer border and decorative maroon
coloured lettering which has been expanded or condensed to fit
available spaces. The interlinking double-'O's (as in 'GOODS' are
characteristic. Suffolk Record Office has an original advertisement
for "Wootton's Shilling hollow-ground razor" [Wootton, George, fl 1890,
razor seller, of Ipswich, Suffolk] and the same proprietor is listed as
at 7 Tavern Street, Ipswich and 2 Bent Hill, Felixstowe. So who fancies
a face massage after your hot bath - and perhaps you'd like to browse
our catalogue of cutlery and fountain pens?
The above photograph is apparently the interior of George Wootton's
barber shop in Tavern Street; date unknown. Presumably the gent reading
the paper is Mr Wootton himself awaiting his next customer. We love the
high-tech pulley system for transmitting rotary power from a motor at
the rear of the shop, via a shaft mounted near to the ceiling and down
to each hairdressers' clippers.
[UPDATE 27.8.2017: 'Hello, your
photographs of the old Wootton's shop in Ipswich have been drawn to my
attention. The shop was set up by my great grandfather George Wootton
in the latter part of the 19th century. He had moved from Aylesbury,
where he had been a hairdresser. He died aged 47 leaving 10 children
and the eldest boy aged 19 – also called George – took over running the
shop. Looking at the … photo … it was taken in the late 1800s and is of
our great grandfather so it must have been the second George.
Under George the business grew and they set up other shops, including
at Felixstowe and Clacton, all run by various of the brothers. My
grandfather who was the youngest of the boys ended up with the business
and this was taken over by my uncle who set up another branch in
Norwich. My father was also involved and they ended up specialising in
shaver repairs, as there was so much competition on the high street for
all the other services they offered at one time! The business was
eventually sold on in the 1970s.
My uncle, John Wootton, is still alive (aged 90) and knows a lot about
the history of the business. If you are interested there's some photos
of the shop and of the Wootton brothers on Facebook: Ipswich My Home
Town Jenny Wootton (John's daughter and my cousin.) Best wishes,
Caroline Ford (née Wootton). Many
thanks to Caroline for getting in touch.]
The above advertisement comes from "The Myrtle",
the Ipswich (Museum Street) Methodist
Magazine, August 1934. Other advertisements
from this publication can be found on our Introduction page (A.A.
Gibbons) and Scarborow opticians in Dial
Lane. Thanks to John Barbrook for the publication.
Incidentally, Simon Knott of this parish discovered a 1969 Regency
Ipswich Book in a charity shop which contains many display ads. One of
them is for 'Woottons – Ladies Hairdressers, Gents Hairdressers,
Electric Shaver Service Centre' at 10a Queen Street, Ipswich. He has
the image on his Flickr photostream.
Above: the striking frontage of the Picture House in Tavern Street draws the eye away from the next door shop:
Wootton's (see enlargement). The Picture House Cinema opened in
December 1910 and was the first purpose-built cinema in Ipswich. It
closed in 1958 and was demolished. It was replaced by a Timothy Whites
chemist's shop, now a branch of Boots. At last we see the proprietor's
lettering on that white band between first and second floor windows.
17 Tavern Street
A few yards down the road towards Tower Street and it is worth looking
up above The Body Shop at number 17 Tavern Street. Several
strengtheners are in place on the brickwork, although the whole area
has been whitewashed over recent years,
The image to the right is an enhancement. It is
interesting that the fitters weren't fussy which way round the castings
were placed on the wall.
This information comes from Grace's Guide to British Industrial History
website (see Links):-
c1816 Born at Stanford, Norfolk
1851 Living at 7 Meat Market, Bury
St. Edmunds ... Ironmonger employing six men. with wife Jane (age 26).
Sometime his wife Jane died
1859 October 22nd. Married Elizabeth
the eldest daughter of the late Mr. R. Garrett of Downham Market at
Mepel, Isle of Ely. Note: There may be a connection with the
Garretts of Leiston here.
1861 Living at 7 Meat Market, Bury
St. Edmunds ... Ironmonger and Manufacturer. With wife Elizabeth (age
38 born Downham, Norfolk) and daughter Selina (age 9 months). Four
1871 Living at 17 Low Baxter Street,
Bury St. Edmunds ... Ironfounder and Engineer employing 123 men. With
wife Elizabeth (age 46) and children Selina M. (age 10), Agnes J. (age
8), Margaret A. (age 6) and Ethel M. (age 4). Five servants.
1881 Robert Boby was living at 1 Low
Baxter Street, Bury St. Edmunds (age 66 born Stanford, Norfolk),
Ironfounder and Implement Maker. With wife Elizabeth (age 56) and
children Selina M. (age 20), Agnes J. (age 18), Margaret A. (age 16)
and Ethel M. (age 14). Also four servants and a visitor.
1886 December 1st. Died after a
protracted illness aged 72 at his residence in Lower Baxter Street,
Bury St. Edmunds. Proprietor of St. Andrew's Works.
1899 January 2nd. Elizabeth widow of
the late Robert died. Of Bloomfield House, Bury St. Edmunds. Aged 72."
In 2018 we spotted an automatic grain sorting machine in the
tide mill at Sturminster Newton which stands on the River Stour in
The transfer on the top hopper reads: 'Manufactured by ROBERT BOBY
[LIMITED?], Bury St Edmunds England, Patents Applied For'. Which shows
the reach of some of these manufacturing companies.
See also our Lettered
castings index page.
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