Garden railings, Cocksedge & Co., Geo. Abbott

When the industrial revolution in this country was at its height, cast iron was the marvellous new material for structures, The Crystal Palace, home of the 1851 Great Exhbition in St James's Park, London demonstrated that classical-style columns could be made, slim and strong, out of cast iron to support mezzanine floors and roofs. Plentiful iron ore, water and coal provided the raw materials and labour was cheap. Relatively modest dwellings were adorned with cast iron gates and railings to a set of standard designs – but what designs they were. The story of how the government employed people during the Second World War to cut out many of these features, supposedly to be melted down for munitions, but probably dumped into the sea or rivers, was probably a morale-boosting scheme to convince everyone that in sacrificing their railings they were helping the war effort (see below).

Redan Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge railingsPhotograph courtesy Rachel Field
[UPDATE 7.10.2017: Above – 'We were doing some clearing in our front garden this morning and found this lettering on the iron railing between ourselves and our neighbours' garden.  We assume it says 'COCKSEDGE IPSWICH' and that the railing escaped being collected in World War II. Best wishes, Rachel Field (Redan Street).' Cocksedge foundry in Rapier Street was a successful engineering firm, like their larger neighbours, Ransomes & Rapier. However, not many traces of their name are found in Ipswich. The above solid garden railing is an excellent addition here; thanks Rachel. Incidentally, all sorts of conspiracy theories can be found about the cutting-off and removal of cast iron railings, gates and other objects from suburban gardens during the last war.  One school of thought says the iron collected was unsuitable and could not be used; this seems unlikely as recycled iron is a key component in the steel industry. Another more likely explanation is that far more iron was collected – over one millions tons by September 1944 – than was needed or could be processed. Rather than halt the collection, which had turned out to be a unifying effort for the country and of great propaganda value, the government allowed it to continue. After the war, even when raw materials were still in short supply, the widely held view is that the government did not want to reveal that the sacrifice of so much highly valued ironwork had been in vain and so it was quietly disposed of, or even buried in landfill or at sea. One story has so much ironwork dumped in the Thames estuary from barges that the metal affected navigational devices on shipping.]
See another Cocksedge casting mark on the Island site page under 'Bollards'.

Salisbury Road
After this, we increasingly became aware that there might be further examples of lettered ironwork. Salisbury Road, home of the 'J.W. How'  painted sign, has several nice examples of railings dating to the building of the houses or later. More than one gate bears the words:

and, unexpectedly, one has:
in the casting.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge gate   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge gate
Ipswich Historic Lettering: cast iron garden railings2018 images
Above: Salisbury Road – two 'Cocksedge Ipswich' named gates and some railings and gates with no obvious cast foundry name.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Abbott Crown Works railings2018 images
Above: quite a surprise to see this foundry recorded on one garden gate in Salisbury Road, although we do know that Abbott's foundry in the old Temperance Hall on Crown Street did make railings for gardens (see our 'More schools' page under Argyle Street School for more information).

Mystery railings
‘I wondered if you could throw some light on my terrace railings that I have recently restored. The intricate design was masked by what seemed to be a layer of hardened putty, then primer then paint. John Norman of the Ipswich Society, thought that they may have been cast at the Temperance Works at the bottom of the High Street. The Records Office, though cannot find any trace of it. I have enclosed a couple of before and after pictures. I would dearly like to find out about the company that made them. The lettering marks look to be 1862 - the house is 1857. Kind regards, Sylvia Patsalides'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Patsilides railings 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Patsilides railings 2 2017 photographs courtesy Sylvia Patsalides 
It took us a while to make out anything like a date. In fact, we can see a figure ‘1’ at the top and a ‘3’ at the bottom of the boss; reading across the centre, it might be ‘1875’ (very small ‘5’?). Unless George Abbott had a previous foundry, it seems unlikely that they were the source of Sylvia's ironwork, as they only took over the Temperance Hall – quite a change of function – in 1890 (
see our More Schools page under 'Argyle Street School' for more on Geo. Abbott's foundry). The other foundry known to make railings is Cocksedge, (see above) but the dates don’t marry up there either. [See UPDATE below.]
Sylvia continues: ‘I haven't see any other railings like that in town - the nearest is the insets in the Town Hall door… and a property in Museum Street virtually opposite the Museum Street Café.’
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Patsilides railings 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Patsilides railings 4Town Hall door
[UPDATE 7.11.2018: Syvia Patsalides put us on to the solution to the diamond-shaped mark in her railings:-]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Railings, English Registry Marks
2018 photographs courtesy Sylvia Patsalides 
English Registry Marks
The diamond-shaped English Registry Mark, was used by the English Patent Office since 1842 to identify products in metal, wood, glass, ceramic, paper hangings, carpets, various textiles, furniture etc.). The diamond design contains coded letters and numbers:

Registered. In the centre is, usually, ‘Rd.’ indicating ‘Registered’, however, here it is just ‘R’ (which we assume is a natural truncation).

Material type. The Roman numeral ‘I’ denotes metal, as here.

Year letter. A horizontal bar separates the material number from a year letter: ‘O’ denotes 1862. Marks registered from 1842 to 1867 have a letter; marks registered from 1867 to 1883 have a number instead of a letter.

Month letter. At the left of the ‘R’ is September.

Day letter. At the right is 17; so the date of manufacture is 17 September 1862.

Parcel number. Some conflicting information here. At the bottom of the diamond is a ‘3’; this the parcel number, which is (a) “is a code indicating the person or company that registered the piece”, which would be handy, but we haven’t been able to find a table of these; or (b) “You can ignore the number at the bottom of the diamond - this tells us how many items were included in the registration, (sometimes known as bundles or packages).”

So, one of the most interesting pieces of information, the manufacturer/registerer, appears to be absent. As Sylvia points out: 'more intriguing – these stamps were changed everyday and obviously have a specific meaning. It is looking to me like 17 September 1862 is the date, but I am not sure how the find details of the bottom mark (parcel), which will reveal the maker. How fascinating that in the foundry, every day, someone was charged with the responsibility for the date change . . . what stories were generated from those practices in Victorian England. I have been to the Town Hall again and taken a couple of pictures of the metalwork on the door but, looking closely, whilst the design is similar the detail, is not as fine. I am intrigued as to how these very fine railings are gracing my house. Glad that I have made a contribution to the website. You have done so much work over the years. It is fascinating.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Railings, English Registry MarTown Hall door detail
After 1883, the diamond shape was discontinued and "Rd. No.," followed by the number assigned to the product, was used.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Railings, Museum Street2018 images
Sylvia writes: 'Above: 14 Museum Street. The railings look to be exactly the same as those at Park House!'

Related pages:
For another example of a casting by Cocksedge, see our Dock ground level page under 'Bollards'.
For another example of railings by Geo. Abbott, see our More Schools page under 'Argyle Street School'.
See our Castings page.
See also our Street furniture page.

Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
Search Ipswich Historic Lettering
©2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission