'Symonds for Kodaks',
Smiths Suitall also Alfred Coe, Sennitt's, The Lyceum, The Cross Keys in Carr Street

12 Upper Brook Street
Let's come clean about this. Once upon a time, drivers of vehicles could come down Northgate Street to the traffic lights at the Great White Horse, before proceeding down Upper Brook Street. It was while waiting at a red light some years ago that Borin Van Loon glanced upwards and noticed this chimney stack lettering on its pale background panel. It was, long before access to the internet (or even the internet iself) became a possibility for 'the man in the street', the gestation for the Ipswich Historic Lettering website. With a vague idea that other examples in the town could be recorded, a (film) photographic sequence was eventually begun; perhaps it could be researched and expanded into a book? This remains a possibility, but a website at least gives the capacity to revise, update and replace images and information.

The buildings at the corner of Butter Market and (below) Upper Brook Street have a chequered history. Before the latter road was widened in the 1930s, J.A. Symonds' chemists shop (now an optician's premises) appeared in a number of period photographs. Such was the pressure on trading space in the previous century, it was not unknown for shops and stall holders to extend their areas of operation into the street and over pedestrian paths. Streets, already narrow and crowded, became almost impassable at times. The shops on the site shown below used  to project several yards into the street.
In the 21st century it is home to one of the most iconic pieces of historic trade lettering in the town. Once the shop was Brook Craft Market, later a bakers and sandwich shop, then an old fashioned sweet shop. All the while and for many years before, high above stood this lettering.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Symonds 20122012 images
The phraseology of this advertisement (see below* for an explanation) seems at first glance rather esoteric:
It was clearly designed to catch the eye of those approaching further up the slope of Upper Brook and Northgate Streets. Whether this actually worked is debatable given the plethora of high buildings which surround it. We hope that the signwriter involved was on danger money during the creation of this sign. And to prove that it's not just lettering which perches on high on this building, take a look at the art nouveau mouding which sits atop of the two gables facing Upper Orwell Street:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Symonds mouding
Below: an unfamiliar view from around 1900 of the top part of Upper Brook Street. The viewpoint is roughly from outside the present Wilkinsons shop and clearly shows the original Symonds chemists shop projecting into the street at the junction with Buttermarket.  Other contemporary views show the shop visible along Buttermarket creating a 'nip' in that end of the street. In the 1860s the traders around this north-west corner of Buttermarket 'had succeeded in inducing the Local Board of Health to vote £2,000 for the piece of land to be thrown into the street'.  They bought a number of properties on the north side and replaced them with a row of 'good-looking white and red brick houses' [R. Malster in the Reading List]. This doesn't quite tie up with the supposed date of 1900 for the period photograph below; one assumes that the foreshortening of the buildings on the Butter Market side would have been done at the same time as the projecting buildings on the Upper Brook Street side.  Perhaps it took until after 1900, when the photo is dated, to effect the demolition and rebuild of the 'good-looking buildings' which survive to the 21st Century. The 'Symonds for Kodaks' sign therefore probably dates from the first decade of the 1900s.
The projecting corner of the Symonds shop was once known as Pump Corner – the site of a public water-pump.
1900 image
For an evocative photograph of most of Upper Brook Street from the 1880s see our Old Cattle Market page under 'Sir Thomas Rush's house'.
Incidentally, more traces of chemist shop lettering can be found at Hales Chemist (doorstep) in St Helens Street, 'E. J. Owles' in Fore Street (frosted glass door) and in Felixstowe Road.
The Symonds sign is opposite The Cock & Pye public house.

[UPDATE 19.1.2014: Tony Wooderson sends this haunting image of the legendary 'Symonds' chimney stack.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Symonds WoodersonPhoto courtesy Tony Wooderson /Crafted Images (UK)

*The origins and philology of 'Kodaks'
In 1883, George Eastman startled the photographic trade with the announcement of film in rolls, with the roll holder adaptable to nearly every plate camera on the market. With the "Kodak" camera in 1888, he put down the foundation for making photography available to everyone.

The business started as the Eastman company, but added the name of its most successful product, to become Eastman Kodak in 1892. Asked about the name, George Eastman replied, 'Philologically, the word Kodak is as meaningless as a child's first "goo" - terse, abrupt to the point of rudeness, literally bitten off by firm and unyielding consonants at both ends, it snaps like a camera shutter in your face. What more would one ask!' The camera proved such an enormous success that the word Kodak was incorporated into the company name.
(The Japanese electronics company Sony gained its invented name in the 1970s for similar reasons: short, memorable and essentially meaningless therefore able to be marketed without bias and adverse connotation in any language, in any country.)

Muriel Clegg in The way we went (see Reading list) notes that, around 1850 when hard pavements of stone became more common in the town, proprietors of businesses like J.A. Symonds could not resist using the new surfaces for promotion. 'The new pavements proved to be a temptation to advertisers. Steps had to be taken to prevent such disfigurements as advertisements painted on the pavements by Mr Knopps and Mr Collinson.'

14-16 Upper Brook Street research
Stevens Directory gives the following occupants at this address:-
1881 (no. 16 only): Robert Lyon, dentist;
1885 (nos. 14-16): Robert Lyon, chemist and druggist;
1890 (no. 16): W. Ellis Cressweller, chemist;
1894 (nos. 14-16): J.A. Symonds, chemist and druggist;
by Kelly’s Directory, 1954 the entry has been expanded to: ‘J.A. Symonds Ltd, chemist, photo finishers & photographic apparatus dealers. Tel. 3164.’
The last entry for J.A. Symonds is in Kelly’s for 1956.

52-54 Butter Market: '1900'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 6
2016 image
Over the jaws of Butter Market, a rather florid building stands today with swags of terra cotta fruit and flowers, pilasters and pedimented windows on both faces of the former shoe shop (now, inevitably a coffee chain), wits corner turret. If you want to know the date of this particular building look at the oval window moulding on Upper Brook Street (marked A above):
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 12013 images
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 72018 image
Looking at the larger face of the building here reveals, above the '1900' moulding, a scrolled cartouche (inset close-up in the white frame at top left) bearing the initials:
with the J over the W. This is almost certainly the initials of the original proprietor, John White, photographer. Scroll down for trade directory evidence.

It was in 2018 that were told of a coat of arms in the first floor of this '1900' corner building. We include it on our Crests page.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 82018 image
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 42015 images
The elevation on Butter Market continues the interest with art nouveau detailing on the picture window spandrels and wrought iron 'balconette' (marked B on the above first photograph). This was the window designed specifically for a photographer's studio;
as with the whole corner building it is the work of Eade & Johns, local architects.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Upper Brook St 5detail
Below is a photograph of the Butter Market shops from the 1940s/1950s (?), with that window, here with the detailing painted black, at top left.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Butter Market 1950s1940s/50s? image
Smiths Suitall
The shop at no. 50 Butter Market carries the signs: SMITHS SUITALL LEATHER STORES, TRUNK MAKERS'. In fact, in an earlier incarnation at this address, 'Messra Smith', was a noted outlet for Harbutt's Plasticine (as advertised in our 1902 Guide to Ipswich). So, leather trunks and Plasticine, then. Such a range of goods requires us to repeat the Grace's guide (see Links) entry:-
' "Smiths, Suitall, Ipswich". (1922) Ditto Address. Telephone: Ipswich 2304. (1929)
    ▪    1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Fancy Cloth and Leather Goods, including Frames. Autograph Albums, Attaché, Music, Suit and Writing Cases and Travelling Goods; Printers; Bookbinders. (Stand No. L.7)
    ▪    1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Leather Suit Cases, Attaché Cases, Kit, Gladstone, Brief and Square Bags, Trunks, School Bags, Music Cases, Golf Bowls [sic], Tennis and Cartridge Bags, Gun Cases, Hat Boxes, Hockey Bags. (Stand No. P.69)'
The shop was described (perhaps referring to the 1950s) as 'a small department store which specialised in stationery items'. In fact, the company 'Smiths, Suitall Limited' is still listed as having been formed in 1940 (though now 'Dormant'), having an address in Claydon. We would love to include an advertisement for the shop here.

Smiths Suitall in the trade directories

Stevens Directory 1881 Butter Market [from the junction with Upper Brook Street]:
[no number] Smith Walter A. photographer;
50 Conder T.E. & J. leather merchants;
[N.B.: 40 Phillips and Piper woollen drapers &c.].
Stevens Directory 1885
52 White John photographer;
50 Conder T.E. and J. leather merchants;
46 and 48 Smith W. cash stationery warehouse;
[N.B. 40 Phillips and Piper woollen drapers; also: 'Pawsey & Hayes booksellers, stationers, printers & bookbinders, The Ancient House; -here is Stephen's lane-'].
Stevens Directory 1894
46 & 48 Smith (S.) & Smith stationery warehouse;
50 Conder T.E. & J. leather mers;
52 White John photographer.
Kelly's Directory 1909
52 White & Son photographers.
Kelly's Directory 1934
no photographer listed.
Kelly's Directory 1952
46, 48 & 50 SMITHS, SUITALL LTD. printers, stationers, bookbinders, & travelling requisites;
52 Verity L. Hudson F.B.O.A. ophthalmic optician;
24 Hilton S. & Sons Ltd. boot mkrs.

The selected entries from trade directories contain several points of interest:-
Tangential issues along the way through the trade directory entries:-
The Butter Market fire
A major event which could have threatened The Ancient House was a disastrous fire in nearby timber-framed buildings in August 1992. Booksale remainder shop (now 'The Works'), Alderton's shoe shop (later Jones the Bootmaker) and Hughes TV & Audio (where the electrical fire started) were all destroyed, robbing Ipswich of some important timber-framed buildings. The intense heat melted plastic guttering on buildings across the road and we recall picking up bits of ash from the garden driven away from the fire by the westerly wind. Incidentally, the former ABC cinema had already been demolished in 1988, so the gap might have acted as a fire-break protecting The Ancient House if the wind had been in another direction. The old Waggon & Horses tavern (opened in the 16th century and closed in 1935 (see our Ipswich Museum page for the original pub sign) preceded the cinema and adjoined The Ancient House. The Rex Cinema opened on the site on the 1st January 1937. It was renamed the ABC in 1962 when, presumaby the modernist frontage was installed. After the 1992 fire all the above premises were rebuilt and reoccupied by The Works and Jones the Bootmaker (although Hughes stayed in their new home in Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre and have since relocated) and British Home Stores took over the space which runs right round from Butter Market to the rear of The Ancient House. This included the unsuccessful pedestrian mall with a series of small shop units either side stretching from the Butter Market (street) through to Arras Square. In September 1993 Ipswich was coupled (not quite 'twinned' as the Borough reputedly didn't want to pay the official twinning fee...) with Arras, France and the area behind the house is now called Arras Square (see our Blue plaques page).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Butter Market rebuild 1994a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Butter Market rebuild 1994b2018 images
Above: 42 Butter Market (no. 40 is just visible to the right) shows the first building to be constructed from the east end of the street, adjoining the former Jones The Bootmaker shop (Listed Grade II). An interesting nod to the 16th century building it replaced: double-jettied, with – between the second storey between the decorative oriel window below – a dated 'bressumer' on the jetty reads '1994 AD'. This is the date of the rebuild. The next building westwards (no. 40) is plainer, however it is Listed Grade II. The modern shop facade disguises the fact that it is the westerly half of a large 16th century house – its large central chimney-stack can still be seen between numbers 40 and 42. No. 40 has timber framing and features saved from the fire in August 1992. The next feature is the one-time entrance to the failed 'mall/shopping arcade' (later subsumed into the BHS store), then a collonaded and jettied building – the site which was once ABC cinema which abutts The Ancient House. All of these, nos. 32 to 42 Butter Market became the British Home Stores department store which closed in August 2016.
See also our Ancient House page for further images and information about this intriguing street.

18 Carr Street (Sennitt's)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sennitts 2001a
2001 images
Round the corner from the former Symonds and to the right in Carr Street, we find another lost trading name from Ipswich's past emblazoned on a high, curving gable:
sits above the present shop occupied by the butchers, Meat-Inn. Probably the subject of unsuccessful brick cleaning operations, the capitals are now grey and indistinct, but very big.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sennitts 2001
This close-up taken in 2011 is ghostly (the final 'apostrophe S' less distinct). An 1890s photograph of Upper Brook Street taken from the White Horse Corner shows a row of shops on the east side of the road running down to the Cock & Pye public house (one of the few buildings still standing in modern times. The shop just before the pub is Sennitt's shop selling teas. It seems quite possible that when these buildings were demolished Sennitt's moved round the corner to premises in Carr Street. Hence the giant lettering.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sennitt's 20112011 image
The Listing Grade II text: 'Shop and offices. 1888. By T.W. Cotman [see also Lloyds Bank and the Crown & Anchor]. For Mr Scheurmann. Red brick laid in Flemish bond. Machine-tiled roof. Flemish style, the gable-end facing the street. 4 storeys in 3-window range. Narrow facade. Late C20 plate-glass shop front with marble pilasters right and left supporting cast-iron railings. First floor with one semicircular window right and left each fitted with two 2/2 horned sashes. Between them is a moulded arched recess containing a French window with glazing bars and margin lights. Upper 2 floors bisected by a flat pilaster and bordered by one polygonal colonnette right and left of elevation. Second floor with two 8/8 horned sashes set within separate moulded arched recesses and fronted by cast-iron railings. Third floor with 2 similar windows. Elaborate shaped gable with finial. Gabled roof. Large internal gable-end stack to west. (Brown C, Haward B, Kindred B: Dictionary of Architects of Suffolk Buildings 1800-1914: Ipswich: 1991-: 86).'

[UPDATE 22.12.2013: Richie Wisbey's Flickr site has a nice collection of period photographs and we chanced upon this rare image of the Sennitt's shop in Carr Street, probably in the 1920s. It is so much smaller an establishment than the size of the ghost sign above might suggest – and it's a grocery shop ('Provision .. SENNITT'S .. Stores'), not the department store or furnishers we imagined. Thanks to Richie for permission to include it here.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sennitt's periodImage courtesy Richie Wisbey   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sennitt's 20232023 image
Above: the Sennitt's shop in c.1920s and the view in January 2023.
18 (& 20) Carr Street research
From 1881 to 1903 (sample entries) these addresses were occupied by W.J. Topham, watchmaker; George Sheuermann, butcher & ham and bacon curer; The Danish Dairy Co., John Chadbourne, manager.
Kelly’s Directory 1918: first listing of 'Sennitts, provsn. mers'; Sennitts had gone by the 1940 Kelly’s.
N.B. (at no. 18): by 1956 Sunnocks Ltd, outfitters; by 1947, 'Mac Fisheries Ltd, fishmongers'.

6/8 Carr Street
Next door to the Sennitt's lettering is a Subway fast food shop. Here Carr  Street has a much smaller trade sign, brought to our attention by Mike O'Donovan (
who must have a very keen eye, not to mention a good zoom camera lens). It is so high up and so unremarkable, it's not surprising that this went unnoticed for so long.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Alfred Coe 12013 image
Beneath the redbrick swags and the reversed 'S' stretcher point (to the right of the open window in the above photograph) is the metal plate affixed by the company which constructed the building.
It's a humble little advertisement, but has certainly stood the test of time. Anyone any idea when Alfred Coe was running his business in the town? [See UPDATE below.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Carr Street 2[Photograph courtesy Mike O'Donovan]
[UPDATE 31.8.2013: "Hi Borin, Very enjoyable & educational site. I see that you have asked for info about Alfred Coe Builder. Please find attached page from Kelly's 1883.  In the 1888 edition he is is listed at the Brooks Hall Rd Address. In the 1900 edition he is listed in Crown Street. Kind Regards, Brian Warner". Many thanks to Brian for the information. We have resisted the temptation to reproduce the Kelly's listing in case of copyright problems; but we note that Alfred Coe must have been doing quite well in 1883 as there is mention of premises in both "Brooks Hall road & Tacket street". Perhaps this tiny, rusted panel in Carr Street is the only remaining physical evidence of this Ipswich builder.]

[UPDATE: 28.11.2022: Tim Leggett spotted a piece of stencilled lettering referring to one of several important Ipswich foundries which was revealed on this building for only a short time. First, we see the 'before and after', then the load-bearing girder labelled 'COCKSEDGE & CO.'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge girder, Carr Street2022 images courtesy
Tim Leggett
It is interestng that Cocksedge had to add their name by spray paint and stencil (a tradition continued today by Banksy). In the old days of cast iron girders, the letters would have been part of the casting. We assume that this beam was extruded, so no chance of lettering. There are only a few traces of Cocksedge & Co.lettering found so far in Ipswich: see Garden gates & railings, a bollard on the Dockside at ground-level, and a Milestone at Kesgrave. In October 2022, the building here which was once a Subway food outlet, but which closed for some years following a fire, was quickly renamed, the interior refitted and the 'I Love Noodle' fast food restaurant opened for business. Thanks to Tim for sending the photographs.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge girder, Carr Street   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge girder, Carr Street

The upper part of the building, bears at its apex, the date '1888' with the characteristic eights with flattened tops seen on the E. Brand & Sons building.
Ipswich Lettering: Carr Street 3   Ipswich Lettering: Carr Street 42016 images

1-3a Carr Street,
Santander offices
Ipswich Lettering: Carr Street Santander 2023
2023 image

Ipswich Lettering: Carr Street Santander date2022 image courtesy Tony Cross
[Update 7.5.2022: 'I recently noticed this 1822 date plaque while gazing out of the window of Costa in Carr Street. It is the on top floor of the Santander building. Tony Cross.' Thanks to Tony for spotting this high up on the second storey window lintel – not the centre one, but the one on the top right. It's an undistinguished building with, perhaps, a surprisingly early date of 1822, which is placed almost out of sight.]

1-3 Carr Street research
From 1881 to 1903 (sample entries) these addresses were occupied by R.E. Younger, chemist, oil and colour warehouseman; M.A. Ling, toy and fancy dealer; Mrs S. Hill, registry office for servants; Southgate & Co., accountants; Edward Aldous, hatter & hosier; H.C. Hill, fancy repository; Wm Slack, confectioner; Levy Bros, clothiers. More research is required as to when the Abbey National Building Society knocked the premises into one branch.

The Lyceum Theatre

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Carr Street 1905   Ipswich Historic Lettering: EADT advert  

The hand-tinted postcard c.1905, above, shows The Great White Horse Hotel in the background, behind the tram. On the right, by the turreted building is the entrance to the long-gone Little Colman Street. That building, although not built for the company, was the home of the East Anglian Daily Times (founded 1874) stable of newspapers from 1887, eventually moving to the Lower Brook Street offices. The Lyceum Theatre (opened 1891, but converted to a department store in 1936) is on the right with the hanging lamps ove the entrance. Demolition of these rather fine buildings in 1966 led to the modernist shopping centre 'Carr Precinct' which never really found a place in the hearts of Ipswichians.
See our Harold Hulcupp Withers page for a 1932 advertisement for the EADT.
For a view of this area from outside Croydon's in the 1930s, see our Tavern Street page.

The Cross Keys Inn, 24/26 Carr Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Carr Street 1902
1902 map
As so often, the excellent online CAMRA Suffolk Real Ale Guide (see Links) is helpful. The Cross Keys Inn stood across Carr Street from The Lyceum Theatre and was listed in the 1844 White's Suffolk Trades Directory with carriers operating from it to Colchester. Carr Street was for a time known as 'Cross Keys Street' after this inn (see Street name derivations under 'Carr Street'.). The original timber-framed building was extensively rebuilt when the street was widened (circa 1887-88) to allow double-tracking for trams to pass. The radical changes were wrought by the Carr Street Improvement Company, formed in 1887 to buy up old properties and demolish or alter them to allow street-widening. Cross Keys Lane is the lane that goes from Carr St to the rear of what was known as Woolworth's car park; on the 1902 map above the lane meets up with the rear access to the Cock & Pye public house (marked 'P.H.') on Upper Brook Street. The Cross Keys Inn finally closed in 1938.
Like The Cock & Pye, The Cross Keys. it was one of several pubs in the town that used to host cock-fighting in eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This bloody spectacle could last several hours and was eventually banned in 1835. A one time it was particularly popular as a form of gambling and bouts were often held during festival days and during the Ipswich horse racing week.
"To be lett, and enter'd into immediately, the Cross-Keys Inn, in Cross-keys street, Ipswich. A well accustom'd House with a Brewhouse, Cellars, Good Stables, Water and other suitable Conveniences; where may be bought Coppers, Coolers and all other Utensils for Brewing of five Combs at a Time, ready fixed; with the Stock of Beer, Household Goods, of the late Tenant, deceased. Inquire at the said Inn, or of Messrs Trotmans Senior or Junior in Ipswich." Ipswich Journal, March 8th 1740.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Carr Street 62018 image
The Cross Keys Inn may have been at number 22 Carr Street; but it was listed as 26-28 Carr Street in the 1909 Rates book [from Suffolk CAMRA, see Links]. It was situated where a charity shop now stands at number 24 with the alleyway leading south, visible at the far left (image above). The Cross Keys was a very ancient public house; opened before 1650,
it closed in 1938 (date from the Lost pubs project, see Links.). Furthermore, it stood in a very ancient street (see Street name derivations for possible sources of the name 'Carr Street'), the site of production of many 'Ipswich ware' pots going all the way back to the 7th century.

You can find more Carr Street lettering on our Co-op page. See also Harold Hulcupp Withers' connection to Carr Street.
For more on buildings in Butter Market, see our Ancient House and Giles pages.
See also our Lettered castings index page.

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