Ipswich Social Settlement (demolished 1960/1)

Although there is nothing left of the Social Settlement today, it is significant that the new Suffolk Record Office (renamed in 2020 'The Hold') occupies the same site, although set back from Fore Street. It is worth including the Settlement on this website not only because it carried lettering on its facade, but because of its social importance in the story of Ipswich.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Social Settlement 1960Courtesy Ipswich Society
Above: the Settlement closed up, dirty and dilapidated in 1960 with, at the far right a view up Back Hamlet.
There is an 'H' hydrant enamelled sign and boot-scraper at left.
A large road sign (the black-and-white striped posts indicate this early road sign), which obscures the west entrance, shows the Duke Street roundabout layout:
‘Foxhall,     A45 Felixstowe,     Cliff Quay’
The tall, cast iron post carries trolley bus power lines.

The lettering:
West side:


Ipswich Historic Lettering: Social Settlement 3Image by Brian Jepson,
courtesy Ipswich Society
East side:


The Social Settlement was intended to alleviate the high levels of poverty and lawlessness in St Clement parish at the end of the 19th century. Some timber-framed medieval buildings stood on this site and in 1896-97 they were substantially altered to create a Social Settlement. In 1899 a large public hall was added at the rear and presumably the medieval buildings at the front were demolished to be replaced by a new residential building on three floors with 16 bedrooms, designed in 1902 for benefactor, Daniel Ford Goddard, by Eade & Johns Architects. It was in Edwardian free-style, red brick with stone dressings, symmetrical with a large central gable, oriel bay windows & flanked by turret gables with copper cupola roofs.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Social Settlement architect's visual
Courtesy Ipswich Society
Above: Eade & Johns 1902 architect's visualisation of the new facade for the Social Settlement, showing the red brick with stone dressings finish, plus all the lettering.

This institution stood opposite the present-day University of Suffolk Waterfront Building, now the site of Suffolk County Council’s The Hold. It was in a dilapidated state by 1961; by that time it had a very fifties-style advertising hoarding and trellis to the right. The Social Settlement was demolished as part of the Fore Street Improvement Scheme, in preparation for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to open the newly-built Suffolk Civic College.

We are indebted to the mini-site devoted to The Fore Street Facelift 1961 on the Ipswich Society's website (see Links) for information and images.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Social Settlement 1904Courtesy Ipswich Society
The above hand-tinted postcard from the collection of Kerstin Fletcher shows the Social Settlement in the background, looking rather fine in the 1904 sunshine. Passengers in their Edwardian dress board the no. 21 tram at the left. Note the lamp-post and pillar box in the middle of a wide Fore Street with little traffic. The long power connector is visible, with the post carrying overhead electricity cables shown in the left background.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Social Settlement 5Courtesy Ipswich Society
Finally, we are back at the pre-1961 scene, taken from the centre of Duke Street roundabout, looking west down Fore Street. The first thing that strikes one is the dramatic lack of traffic. Then, the billboards (from left):
'Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate ... of course!' (a glass-and-a-half of full-cream milk in every pound bar), 'C&C Club Orange' and a fourteen-sheet billboard advertisement at the right (on trellis support): a laughing woman promotes alcohol (probably Mackeson milk stout).
The 1620 buildings at left have survived; much else in this photograph has disappeared or changed, including the Social Settlement beyond the billboard on the right.

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