Cocksedge & Co.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge plate
In 1879 J. S. Cocksedge left the firm Woods, Cocksedge and Warner of Suffolk Iron Works, Stowmarket (established in 1812) to founded Cocksedge & Co. of Greyfriars Road. J. S. Cocksedge died in 1887. In 1900 new premises were opened by the compnay in Rapier Street. The company was the maker of the Gerald Gray Patent Self-Slewing Crane and this utilised two small steam engines. In 1961 they were listed as constructional and general engineers and iron founders; specialists in manufacture of sugar machinery with 600 employees. [Information from Grace’s Guide, see Links]

'… engineering was the largest employer [in Ipswich], both in terms of the numbers involved and in the size of the final product. Ransomes and Rapier in particular exported sizeable machines to the developing world. It is said that in the 19th Century Ipswich exported more goods than any other port in the country. It is no surprise that the industrial activities of Ipswich, with its connections by sea and rail (road transport was still horse drawn) attracted new business from rural Suffolk. One such engineer was James Samuel Cocksedge, who had been employed with Woods & Company of Stowmarket, a firm founded in 1812. Cocksedge had already sent his sons elsewhere to gain their apprenticeships (and knowledge of how other firms operated) when he decided to take an opportunity to buy a small engineering company in Grey Friars Road in Ipswich and make it his own.

The Grey Friars Road business included a small foundry, an engineering shop and a pattern shop (wooden shapes were made, pressed into green sand, removed and the depression filled with molten metal which took the same shape as the ‘pattern’. Cocksedge initially employed 12 men and the business was established. The first of his sons (James Woods Arthur Cocksedge) returned from London, apprenticeship complete, to help in the family firm. Expansion was immediate and they purchased premises across the road from their original works.
When the second son, EH Cocksedge, returned from India with expertise in structural engineering (steel framed buildings) he persuaded his brother that this was the direction the company should take. This decision was the making of the firm; they spotted an opportunity, a gap in the emerging market and adapted to supply the growing demand. Structural engineering was the new method of building with larger and taller buildings pushing the known boundaries of traditional construction. Cocksedge’s erected the three original steel-framed grandstands at Newmarket racecourse, a bridge on the first Colchester by-pass and the steel frames of the factory for Fisons, Packard and Prentice. They went on to become one of the region’s most significant structural steel fabricators, supplying everything from single steel beams to erecting some of the largest buildings in East Anglia.

In 1903 they opened a new production facility in Rapier Street which in time became their headquarters. Their slight disadvantage with this move is that they were never as prominent in the street scene as either Ransomes’ or Ransome and Rapier. The company folded in the recession of the early 1980s.'
[Extract from Ipswich Icons, by John Norman. EADT, 18 Oct, 2015]

The Cocksedge & Co. namestyle and illustration shown here is an
Edwardian promotional decoration on a large white ironstone plate found on It shows the figure of Justice holding scales and a sword to promote the company as 'scale makers' – a product not mentioned in the 1934 advertisement lists shown below – however, see the weighing scale photograph from the Suffolk Punch Trust towards the bottom of this web-page..
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge ad 1930s1934 advertisements Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge advert
For the location of Eagle Works, the triangular site south of Ransomes & Rapier works on Griffin Wharf,  which was home of the Cocksedge foundry can be seen on the 1973 map of the Ipswich docklands.

[UPDATE 22.1.2023: 'Some of the trifles I collected as a youth were old gas lamp posts which were being removed from Ipswich streets and sold off for a song. (They do make very solid linen posts.) Two show reasonably clear markings, and I guess the other two identical posts would have had the same. I am afraid I cannot tell you which street they came from! Nick Wiggin.' Thanks to Nick for finding another product of Cocksedge & Co. in Ipswich and now at his home; the image has been turned on its side to aid readability 'COCKSEDGE']

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge gas lamp postImage courtesy Nick Wiggin

[UPDATE 23.1.2023: Sandy Phillips writes 'My ex-husband worked for Cocksedge in the early 1980s. I believe they went into administration in the mid-'80s. I got married on 20 September 1986 and he got made redundant just before this. He and his father worked as electro-magnetic paint sprayers for the castellated beam side of the Cocksedge foundry. His father was made redundant first after many years service and, as both father and son were residing in the house at the time of this, it made relations a bit strained within the family! Peter was soon made redundant too, after delivering drums of paint to the firms that had contracted work to Cocksedge. Peter was to find that this was his last job with Cocksedge as the redundancy notice was waiting for him when he returned home.
I attach a Cocksedge drain, in case you don't have one.' Many thanks to Sandy for the contributions to the website; personal/family recollections of the great Ipswich industries are valuable. The street drain cover (note the traces of the double yellow parking lines) bears the words 'COCKSEDGE ... IPSWICH' in rather fine serif'd capitals. Sandy tells us that the location of the drain cover is in Gibbons Street, directly under the 'Elliott Street Bakery' sign.]

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge drain cover2023 images courtesy Sandy Phillips Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge drain cover 2
The second example (above) shows a studded cover in Emlen Street. It is in the middle of the road (explaining why the lettering is so worn) as you approach the Walton House car park.

Meanwhile, at the Suffolk Punch Trust, Hollesley...
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge scales 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge scales 22017 images
NO. B282
The sign reads: ‘SCALES. These were used for weighing sacks of corn. The weights are in pounds (lbs) and hundredweights (cwt). By using the sliding weight on the arm, the scales are accurate to 4oz. [ounces] and can be used to weigh up to 3 cwt. The weights are 14lb (1 stone), 28lbs, 56lbs and 1 cwt.’. The first evidence of specialist scale-makers in Suffolk dates from the 1850s. Before 1860 the London scale-maker Samuel Warmisham had set up a branch in Ipswich. The firm was bought by the large engineering firm Cocksedge & Co. around 1890 (eventually taken over by Averys in 1936).

Further Cocksedge castings can be seen on:-
- a large cast dock bollard by Cocksedge, see our Dock ground level page under 'Bollards';
- Garden railings and gates in Salisbury Road;
the Symonds page for a lettered steel beam by Cocksedge in Carr Street;
- a drain cover near the Martyrs memorial in Christchurch park;
- a pavement grating in Museum Street;
- Cocksedge pavement drainage lettering in Hadleigh.
What we can draw from these extant examples is that, at least in Ipswich, the large steelwork structures and heavier engineering products of Cocksedge & Co. promoted in their advertisements shown at the top of this web-page are absent and the company name lives on in much more pedestrain (pun intended) castings.

Related pages:
See our Castings page.
See also our Street furniture page.

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