Lloyds Avenue: our Art Deco street / Electric House

Electric House
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House 62004 image
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House 22012 images
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 of the Tower Ramparts bus station concourse, although it's still officially part of Lloyds Avenue. At ground level is a shop unit (once Radio Orwell studios and The Futon Shop) and way up high is the stone / concrete relief showing the crest of the electricity 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:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House 52012 image
'I E S C'
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 Cornhill,
    •     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 ...

 ... 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House logo1932 publication
The carved stone feature
for 'Ipswich Electricity Supply Centre' at the top of Electric House is clearly by Saunders Stonemasons of Hadleigh Road: 'the largest and best-equipped masons in East Anglia'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Saunders stonemasons and 19321932 advertisement

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Electric House 19391939
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:
'POWER [not 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:
Ipswich Corporation Electricity Department
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.].

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue sign2013 image 
The fine masonic lettering which proclaims 'LLOYDS AVENUE' on the Cornhill arch contrasts with the modest steel street sign on the former bakery at the upper end of the street. Interesting (and quite rare) use of the superior 'VE'.

The Odeon

"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 contribution.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon 12014 images  
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon 2Photographs courtesy Tim Leggett
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon CinemaPhotograph 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 hardly notice.
[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 obvious.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon 2016Courtesy 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 memorials.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon brick 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Odeon brick 2
These views are from the Tower Ramparts entrance to Debenhams store.

22 Lloyds Avenue
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 2017a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 2017b2017 images courtesy Tim Leggett
As the art deco frontage was being worked on in January 2017, the ghost lettering:
was spotted by Tim Leggett.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 2017c  
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 19471947  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 1970c.1970
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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue Smyth 20192019 image
In late 2018 the building finally reopened as the Three Wise Monkeys pub/restaurant.

36 Lloyds Avenue
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue sign on 36
17.7.2024: 'Hello again Borin, I was in town early this morning and spotted this exposed lettering in Lloyds Ave. I sadly couldn't get a better picture as a car was coming! Kind regards, Dominic Zagni.' Thanks to Dominic this for spotting this.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lloyds Avenue sign on 36
On close inspection we would hazard that this reads:
Lloyds Avenue and its eponymous arch on Cornhill was created in 1930, so a Kelly's Directory check surely beckons.

See our Street furniture page for the double pillar box at the bottom of Lloyds Avenue.

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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission