Lloyds Avenue: our Art Deco street
/ Electric House
Electric House seen from the slope of Lloyds Avenue
(below) reveals the
building name, suitably, in neon capitals near to the pediment (see
close-up in lower section of the image). It was built in 1933 by E.
McLauchlan, Borough Surveyor and W.S. Foster, architectural assistant.
It is steel framed and faced with reconstructed stone.
The deco frontage of Electric House is rather fine: see
the detail of a flattened capital of a false pillar (above) showing
cylinders at the top - perhaps symbolising electrical cable insulators
- with a zig-zag lightning motif linking fan-shaped light symols with
shining five pointed stars at the bottom. Electric House forms one side
bus station concourse, although it's still officially part of Lloyds
At ground level is a shop unit (once Radio Orwell studios and The Futon Shop) and way
high is the stone / concrete relief showing the crest of the
supply company; the magnificently intertwined letters:
stand for Ipswich
Electricity Supply Centre; surrounded by art deco power symbols and the
furled banner proclaiming
in all its grandiosity:
'LIGHT POWER HEAT'
'I E S
The monogram stands for Ipswich Electricity Supply
Centre (see our St Helens Street
page for an Ipswich Corporation Electric Supply Dept. advertisement and
views of the Constatine Road power station).
This lettering was made by
Saunders Stonemasons, the "largest and best
equipped masons in East Anglia", who were based at 21 Cemetery
Road (we think that there is still a stonemasons business there).
Saunders also won contracts to supply war grave headstones in France
and Belgium, including memorials at Loos, Thiepval and, now partnered
with Ipswich, Arras. This is a late addition
to this website as it was only noticed in Spring, 2004; it is shrouded
in tall trees during spring, summer and autumn.
Thanks for the extra information to Ed Broom's Seven Wonders Of Ipswich
website linked here. Here's a bit more:
Back in 1903, the Electric Supply Undertaking of the Ipswich
Corporation was begun. A booklet from the 1930s states that "the power
station ... is thoroughly up-to-date and contains five
turbo-alternators." That same decade saw the building of:
• Lloyds Avenue, linking to
• the Odeon, opened 1936,
now the Mecca bingo hall [the single white brick in the wall facing the
back of Debenhams commemorates the death of a building worker during
construction, the brick marking the place in the wall where he was
working when he fell – see below],
• and Electric House itself
An old Kelly's ad from the 60s reads:
Consumers and intending consumers of electricity in the Borough and
District of Ipswich are assured that their electrical requirements,
whether of an industrial, commercial or domestic character, will
receive prompt, careful and competent attention at the ...
ELECTRICITY SERVICE CENTRE
... where inquiries are welcomed, advice is free, apparatus may
be discussed and selected, and arrangements can be made for safe and
satisfactory wiring of every type of electrical installation.
Eastern Electricity Board, Ipswich District Office and Service
Centre, "Electric House," Lloyds Avenue. Telephone Ipswich 5606.
The carved stone feature for 'Ipswich
Centre' at the top of Electric House is clearly
by Saunders Stonemasons of Hadleigh Road: 'the largest and
best-equipped masons in East Anglia'.
Above: the Service Centre lit up in all its
glory in 1939,
window displays filled with lamps and fittings and our 'IESC 'crest and
lettering, now so grimy, floodlit at the top centre of the building. At
the same level as
the clock (which is still there) are more large letters stretched
around the side and front:
visible] ... COOK ... HEAT ... FANS ... SIGNS'
on the final angled wall, between two mirrored silhouettes of
old-fashioned telephones, is the number: '3166'.
Running above the ground floor is a frieze reading:
'CORPORATION ELECTRICAL SHOWROOMS'
Ipswich Corporation Electricity
See our Street furniture page
[under 'Ground level (Ipswich
Corporation Electricity Department)'] for
notes on this organisation and on the formation of the Ipswich and
District Electrical Association [I.D.E.A.].
The fine masonic lettering which proclaims 'LLOYDS
AVENUE' on the Cornhill
arch contrasts with the modest steel street sign on the former bakery
end of the street. Interesting (and quite rare) use of the superior
"I'm sure you must have this already, although I can't find it on your
historic lettering website. The Mecca Bingo still shows ODEON
along the top. I attach a photo. You've probably already
noticed this anyway… Regarding the ODEON. I may have been a
little premature mentioning this as when I went by yesterday I was not
so sure that you can see this anymore. It was visible but I think
it may have been cleaned off! Tim Leggett." Many thanks for the
The building was designed by George Coles in 1935-6. The correct term
for the pale cladding is: Faience, the conventional name in English for
fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body,
originally associated by French speakers with wares exported from
Faenza in northern Italy.
Photographs courtesy Tim Leggett
courtesy The Ipswich Society
We think that the combination of damage to the faience cladding
caused by the affixing and removal of the 'ODEON' lettering and the
dirt which gathered behind and below the characters qualify this as a
very ghostly sign of yore. Tim's second image gives us the chance to
admire the fine, art deco urns atop the pilasters, which many people
[UPDATE 28.10.2016: "I don't
know if this is of interest but whilst men have been working on
revamping the Mecca on Lloyds Avenue they have uncovered lettering
reading 'ODEON' over the entrance (attached). This will obviously not
remain but may be worth recording. Tim Leggett." Thanks to Tim for spotting the shadow of
the capitals behind the blue paint, with only the final 'N' in red
Courtesy Tim Leggett
The rear wall
It is also worth including here the single white brick
high up on the rear wall – the face beside the rear entrance to
Debenhams – of the buiding; it marks the spot during construction when
a bricklayer fell to his death. We don't know of any other such
views are from the Tower Ramparts entrance to Debenhams store.
22 Lloyds Avenue
images courtesy Tim Leggett
As the art deco frontage was being worked on in January 2017,
the ghost lettering:
was spotted by Tim Leggett.
Below is the Smyth Brothers advertisement from Kelly's Directory, 1947,
showing what must surely have been a landmark building for the company,
given their motley collection of five other buildings in Fore Street.
Thanks to Ed Broom (see Freston.net on the Links
page) for spotting
this and putting it in his Flickr collection.
The above photograph, dated from vehicle registration numbers and
one-man bus operation to the early 1970s, shows 22 Lloyds Avenue on the
right, which at that time was a 'House Warming Centre' with a bus
shelter outside. Lloyds Avenue was a through road under the Lloyds Arch
and across Cornhill (with lots more bus shelters). Notable, too, in
this photograph is the large white building seen past the edge of
Electric House. This was a car showroom and works belonging to Egertons. The sign on Reggie Egerton’s
showroom reads: ‘…GERTONS (IPSWICH)’ but it is the darker areas
of paintwork, once covered by cut-out letters and therefore not faded
by the sun. This suggests that this large showroom and works was empty
by 1970, awaiting demolition. The Crown Street premises were built in
1928. After a series of takeovers and amalgamations, the Crown Street
site became redundant and in the early 1960s was sold for a new town
swimming and leisure facility, Crown Pools, which was eventually built
in 1985. How very close the
Egertons building seems, before Crown Street widening; Crown Pools is,
of course set further back from the roadside on this site.
22 Lloyds Avenue was a Job Centre in the 1980s. Much later it was
converted into an 'olde worlde' pub called The Hogshead, later Lloyds
Tavern, as we see in the photograph with the workmen.
In late 2018 the building
finally reopened as the Three Wise Monkeys pub/restaurant.
See our Street furniture page for
the double pillar box at the bottom of Lloyds Avenue.
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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