Brand & Sons, Phillips & Piper, Grey-Green Coaches
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 7a
The shop sign revealed in February 2015 (scroll down for more)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 62019 image
Above: overview of the three sections of the Brand buildings, July 2019.

E. Brand & Sons
, former department store, 32-36 Tacket Street
Once neglected and algae-covered, this building at 32-36 Tacket Street embodies several lettering examples in its fabric. Part of the upper floors were once devoted to the First Floor night club; the shops below have changed hands many times, but once belonged to
'BRAND & SONS' as shown on the decorative panel below the ornate balcony. The supporting stone corbels supporting the balcony are a little like ship's prows with their human faces and the ampersand of the company name slides below the central one. Blocked gutters have caused staining, moss and algal growth from time to time.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 42011 imagesIpswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 4a
The owners of The Opium Lounge/Buddha Bar - later Ice and Fire - refurbished the building in 2001 and cleaned the excellent decoration. One puzzle: the date stone high up in the gable (above right)  appears to be clearly marked 'IX AD 90'; to us this reads '990', but the building surely dates from 1890 when Mr Brand and his sons operated a sizeable business in selling drapery, stays and corsets. [UPDATE 16.8.2012: The answer comes from Simon Knott (of the Suffolk churches website; see Links), whose close-up of the date shows that the 'X' is really a fancy '8' with squared-off top and bottom, so '1890' it is, then. One for the architecture buffs: we also learn that the smiley balcony supports are called 'telamons', being (although rather small) a male version of the 'caryatid' as seen in Cheltenham's Montpellier area. Telamon, in Greek mythology, was the son of Aeacus of Aegina and Endeis; he accompanied Jason and his Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3aTelamon 

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 20182018 images
Above and below: following the cleaning and conversion of the buildings into accommodation in 2017, the fine balcony and decorative lettering are seen to best effect:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 2018
Below: Telamons up close and personal after the building was cleaned. The eyes at extreme left and extreme right are particularly beady, perhaps due to erosion of the stonework.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons 2018
Below: for comparison, we can go to the Baroque architecture of south-east Sicily. This example comes from the street Via Corradoro Nicolaci in the town of Noto, one of Sicily's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 'pregnant' balcony railings show the characteristic outward bulge, said to have been designed to accomodate the full skirts of the women. The Brand building balcony has an echo of this bulge in its railings. This example has winged female corbels. Sometimes the carvings seen in Sicily have recognisable portraits of local characters, or grotesque figures.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand & Sons Sicily blacony2019 image

The capital stone at top left of the building adjacent to one which dates the fascade to 1875 - shows
'E.B' for E. Brand.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 3 Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 1
The making of stays (corsets) was an important local industry for many years in Ipswich, the piecework manufacture being done in people's homes. In 1830 Ipswich had at least nine staymakers, six of them women, this rose to thirteen by 1845. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were only two women listed as corsetmakers, but three companies: the Atlas Corset Co. in Lower Orwell Street, E. Brand & Sons in Tacket Street and William Pretty & Son in the large factory with its high chimney on Tower Ramparts which employed hundreds of women. Pulled down in the eighties, this last site is now the public car park running behind Debenhams, All Fired Up (the stabling at the back of the Crown & Anchor Hotel) and Marks & Spencer.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand composite
2011 images
'AD 1890
E. B     1875

Overview of the Brand buildings
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 22019 images
Cake Supreme is no. 42; the Ipswich 5 grocery shop is no. 40 Tacket Street.          TLS Home Group (building) is at no. 38 (beneath the
the mirrored signs).           Brand's store  is 32 to 36.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand buildings 5
The former Jeneveve dress shop is no. 30.        The section with the balcony is no. 28.          Jonty's clothing shop is at no. 26.         

Brand & Sons was a drapery, haberdashery and corsetry department store, and they also let upper rooms to the labouring classes. The premises were extensively rebuilt in 1903 by the architect Walter Brand, son of the store owner. See Ipswich Museum contents for a mirrored name-sign belonging to the Brand & Sons department store.  By September 2014 the paint above the central entrance door to the former store was starting to peel away, mainly because it had been applied to glass with mirrored characters similar to the Museum's sign;
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 52014 image  Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand sign
The rest of this signage above the shop windows is weathering at a slower pace, but there are traces of gold and black lettering showing through there, too.
[UPDATE: 16.2.2015: "Walking along Tacket St today saw some fellas working on a shop frontage, has been wedding outfitters most recently, but they were standing with admiration looking at some of the most gorgeous lettering, in superb condition after they had scraped paint away.
Look, the last section about to be scraped away! Tony Marsden" Our grateful thanks to eagle-eyed Tony Marsden, who not only spotted the revealed lettering, but had his camera handy. Is there any chance that the mirrored lettering might be left in view by the next occupiers? – see press cutting below]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015a

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015b2015 photographs courtesy Tony Marsden
[UPDATE 20.2.2015: It is good to see that the local paper, the Ipswich Star, covered the story on the following day. From this article we learn that the owner of Peggy's Place, the new occupant of the shop, has said: 'Since the sign was exposed I've had several calls from people saying how wonderful it looks and can we keep it that we think it would be good to keep it showing.' Result. The E. Brand & Sons store sold drapery, haberdashery and furniture from 1903 until the late 1950s when it closed.]

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 2015cStar, 17.2.2015
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 62015 image
What we need now, is for the right-hand side of the building to be restored so that we can see what lettering lies below the paint on that side....
In the summer of 2016 this shop was vacated and stood empty once again. The resonant Brand & Sons Ltd sign remains, as it did for many years beneath coats of paint.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 82016 images
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 9
[UPDATE 20.8.2019: The exposure of the mirrored lettering on the Brand building continues. Suddenly we saw, for a few days, the (somewhat surprising) word 'FRIENDLY' with the removal of the first 'Jeneveve' shop sign- board (showing the telephone number). Does the next panel read 'SERVICE'? The board was quickly reattached and painted over. Note the plainer numerals and capitals compared to the '& SONS' which show the flair of the fairground in their design. [continues]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 112019 images
The close-up shows that the mirrored glass has cracked across the letter 'F'. Reflected in the signs and shop window: Christchurch URC Church, as well as the surrounding trees and buildings. [continues]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 1912
At the far right (west end) of the shop, work to clean up the shop unit included partially removing the paint layers with hot air strippers. This resulted in the westernmost glass panel (just) showing the word ('DRAPERS.') under smeared green paint. If they'd used blade scrapers on the paint layers, it might have come off cleanly. The first two panels remain unreadable and it is likely that this is the last we shall see of the Brand company lettering here. The greenish 'DRAPERS.' sign also indicates the damaged nature of the mouldings above it.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 13
The complete original sequence, apart from one unknown panel, runs:
'DRAPERS. |  BRAND |  & SONS LTD. |  FURNITURE  |  & BEDDING  | 34–36  |  FRIENDLY  |   [SERVICE?]  |  [?]  |  FURNISHERS  |  JOHN BLUNDELL  |  DRAPERS.' [see update below]
and we can only hazard at the one remaining unknown panel, but from trade directories we can guess at: 'Hosier', 'Haberdasher', 'Warehousemen' – or repeats of the 'Furniture' and 'Bedding' signs from the eastern end.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: E Brand 14Courtesy The Ipswich Society
[UPDATE 18.12.2019: this photograph of the westernmost part of the former E. Brand & Sons store was found on The Ipswich Society Image Archive (see Links), dated May 1977. Blundell's restoration of the shop front, fascia etc. was nominated for an Ipswich Society Conservation Award in that year. The crucial thing for this website is the revelation that the three panels above the shopfront read: 'FURNISHERS.   JOHN BLUNDELL   DRAPERS.' Unfortunately, due to reflection the two panel to the left of these are unreadable here, but the word 'FRIENDLY' beyond can just be made out. John Blundell was clearly a clothing shop, with some lighting and furnishing stock, perhaps. From the Kelly's Directory research shown below, it appears that the John Blundell company must have moved into this shop at some time after 1956 when the Brand store was split into smaller businesses. Perhaps more suprising is the mirrored lettering above, which must have been changed to mark the new business post-'56. Not quite what we expected, having assumed that the Victorian signs remained unchanged since the heyday of Brand's. The soot and grime from the height of coal-fire use has resulted in the dark grey facade above shop level – compare with the cleaned building at the top of the page.]

[UPDATE June 2017: the E. Brand building being cleaned and converted into accommodation by the new owners.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand building 20172017 imageIpswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand portrait photograph
[UPDATE 5.7.2019: I was delighted to stumble upon the beautiful photos and information about the Brand & Sons shop front in Tacket Street, Ipswich – and to find that is still there!

The shop was established by Edward Brand, and his wife Harriet, who were my Great-Great Grandparents,  soon after they married in 1866. They were originally from Cambridge, and were both drapers. They had wanted to set up business in London, but Edward’s health was not so good, and he was advised that he should be somewhere where the air quality was better. They therefore set up their drapery business in Ipswich, using all their savings to buy the premises. The shop I believe, from a family story that has been handed down to me, was initially signed as ‘Edward Brand’.

Later, two of their sons, Sydney and (Edward) Pumfrett Brand went into the family business. Walter, the other son, had no interest in the business and went on to become an architect.  This is when the business was re-named to ‘Brand & Sons’, which was in around 1890, I believe. Pumfrett died in 1894, leaving Sydney to run the business after his father, Edward, retired.  Edward died in 1904. I do have a photo of Edward. You are very welcome to use both the photo and the information that I have given you if you would like to – it is only by this sort of collaborative effort that we are able to find out much of the historic information about our forebears!

Both Edward, and later Sydney,  served as Borough Councillors for several years in Ipswich and Sydney Brand was Mayor of Ipswich in 1915-16. He died in 1927. I am not certain if any other members of the family continued to run the business after this time: your website mentions that the shop didn’t close until the 1950s.

Looking back at some of the other records I have, I also noticed on Walter Brand’s birth certificate that in 1872, the address is given as 36 Tacket Street. Later, in 1901, William Stanley (another son, who I believe was involved in the business for a short time) was living at 28-36 Tackett Street, with around 30 other people at the address, all of whom had their occupations given as draper’s assistants; so I would presume that these people were working within the business as well. The change of address from just no. 36 Tacket Street in 1872 to 28-36 in 1901 would certainly match with the idea that as the business grew, the building was in some way extended.

At some point I will have to take a trip to Ipswich to see the building for myself, but in the meantime, your website has really given me a flavour of what the shop might have been like. Kind regards, Anne Marshall.]

Many thanks to Anne for helping to flesh out the story of this company and building. The vignetted portrait of the founder of the company is as atmospheric as many Victorian/Edwardian studio photographs. Mr Brand gazes off to the left, dressed in his smart clothes bespectacled and splendidly bewhiskered.

We are particularly grateful for the additional information about the founding couple who were both drapers. The information we gleaned from random sources gave little insight into the beginning of the business. We had always assumed that the more decorative westerly part was built on the site from scratch, then the plainer easterly part was added as the business grew, designed by the architect son, Walter, in 1903. It is possible that Edward and Harriet Brand bought an existing building on the site and had the westerly facade remodelled to include the ‘E. Brand & Sons’ lettering etc. in 1890 (the date shown on the apex of the gable).

Researches at Suffolk Record Office
The first record of E. Brand we’ve found is in J.G. Harrod’s Directory of Suffolk & Cambridgeshire, 1873. There is a simple entry for: ‘BRAND EDWARD, linen draper, hosier, and haberdasher, Friendly House, 34 and 36, Tacket Street.’
By Stevens Directory of 1881the description is ‘general draper, silk mercer and warehouseman. Friendly House, 32, 34 and 36, Tacket Street. Family mourning. Funerals furnished. (See Advt.)’. The full page advertisement, in a variety of fonts and sizes reads:
32, 34, & 36, TACKET STREET,
Extending through to Wingfield Street

Mourning & Furnishing
Has always an extensive Stock of New Goods in all
Departments of the House.
Our Celebrated Dacca Calicoes
Are said to the Best in the World for Strength, Soft-
ness and Durability.
All goods bought and sold for Cash at Lowest Current
Market Prices and guaranteed to be what they are represented.

The above advertisment definitely suggests that the shop is a modest form of  'department store' – an expression which emerged in the mid-19th century with Le Bon Marché in Paris in 1852 and later Whitely's store in London.
Stevens Directory of 1894 gives the address as 28, 30, 32, 34, and 36 Tacket Street and the description: ‘wholesale & retail draper & complete house furnisher’.
Kelly’s Directory of 1906: ‘Brand & Sons, drapers 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 Tacket Street; factories, Wingfield Street.’ This is the first description found of the company with the ‘& Sons’ and the longest address, suggesting that they steadily bought up neighbouring premises to expand ‘Friendly House’. This entry is also the first to add the word 'factories' in regard to the buildings extending to [Little] Wingfield Street (see the 1902 map on our Tooley's Almshouses page). It can be assumed that the 'factories' accessed from the rear of the Brand buildings were making corsets (although none of the trade directories we've seen refer to the corsetry trade).
Kelly’s Directory of 1909: has a similar entry, but note also that 24 Tacket Street is listed as ‘Brand & Sons, hardware dealers’. The business must have been flourishing to diversify into very different merchandise. Perhaps one of the sons wanted a new challenge and Edward agreed to set up this business under the family company name.
Kelly’s Directory of 1935 shows E. Brand & Sons at the same address (28-38) with a full page advertisement describing the business as ‘DRAPERY & FURNITURE, bedding manufacturers & general warehousemen’. They are described only as ‘drapers’ at 28-38 Tacket Street by 1952.
The last entry in Kelly’s for E. Brand & Sons is in the 1954 volume. By 1956 a number of other businesses are being run from 28 through 38 Tacket Street.
Sadly, there are no engravings in the directories we consulted showing the exterior of the buildings, which would have aided identification of the full run of signs above ground floor level.

[UPDATE 17.3.2010: Sadly, the new proprietors in the Brand buldings have seen fit to obliterate all the mirrored trade signs above the shopfronts, leaving only the street numbers '32-36' over the entrance.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: E. Brand building 20202020 image

Phillips & Piper, St Margarets Street
A similar naming of a business in the fabric of the building can be found at the modest entrance at the corner of Pipers Court in St Margarets Street. In the photograph below it is just below the traffic lights. The large, curving apartment block which straddles the site of the town ramparts between that street and Old Foundry Road was, until the eighties, a busy factory producing sports clothing:


Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 22004 image  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 3 2015 image
One hundred and thirty one years of history came to a close in June 1982, when Phillips and Piper closed its Ipswich clothing works. The company made high quality clothes, including riding wear for men, women and children. Thousands worked for the company during its history, many of them young women who started directly from school.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper 3a
Above: the deeply chiseled, stylish characters.
It is only a short distance from Christchurch Mansion and Park; it's also halfway between Ewers Grey-Green (below) and The Milestone.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper workers 19321932 image
Above: Phillips & Piper Ltd.: No. 1 Machine Room – massed ranks of sewing machines and, almost exclusively, female workers (a foreman stands in the left distance).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Phillips & Piper advertisement 19361936 advertisement

Ewer's Grey-Green Coaches, St Margaret's Street/Old Foundry Road
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 3 Entrance on St Margaret's Street / 2012 images
The former Grey-Green Coaches depot has large concertina doors onto both St Margaret's Street and Old Foundry Road. Below is the view from the Public Library's Lecture Hall entrance on Old Foundry Road; the front entrance carries similar lettering stretched in a single line. The modest art deco style of the building is well preserved. We can remember travelling in Grey-Green coaches from London to Saxmundham in the seventies and, amongst many pauses and stops, we pulled into this barn-like building as we paused in Ipswich (the coaches used to travel down all sorts of unsuitable roads in those days including a two-way Woodbridge Thoroughfare). These days the route is covered by National Express coaches which stop at the Old Cattle Market Bus Station. This spot would be far too congested with traffic most of the time to use the Grey-Green depot. In recent years the building has been used by a taxi company, car dealer and auction house. The company was started in 1928 by George Ewers and ran express coaches from Ipswich and Felixstowe to London as well as coach outings in the famous 'Grey Greens'. After the coaches stopped coming through, seven lorryloads of ready-mixed cement were required to level the floor which dropped from St Margaret's Street to Old Foundry Road in order to facilitate water run-away when the coaches were washed.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 2
The Grey-Green Coaches garage is the 'properly Modern' work of versatile architect J.A. Sherman in 1937, who designed much hereabouts including the next door eclectic group on buildings including the former 'Bar Fontaine' and the Art Deco number 1 Woodbridge Road, dated '1928'.
The photograph below shows the coach station when in operation in 1982, with the lettering picked out in green. The crane in the background could well be being used to build Crown Pools in Crown Street at this time.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ewers 4Photograph courtesy The Ipswich Society
In 2013 on a visit to the Ipswich Transport Museum we discovered a fine advertising board for Grey-Green Coaches.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Foundry Rd signSign,very low down, on Northgate St junction
This part of the Ewers building stands on the historic Old Foundry Road (itself commemorating the original Robert Ransome foundry – see our blue plaques page – which was the start of the Ransome's engineering empire, so central to the history of Ipswich. See also the last vestiges of the 'Ransomes' name in Wyke's Bishop Street and the Orwell Works site. Old Foundry Road follows the line of the Rampart and Town Ditches round the medieval core of the town. Since a good repair and cleaning job in Spring 2004, the Ewers building presents a much crisper countenance to the world.

It faces the 'Lectures' entranceway to the old Central (now 'County') Library.
See the 1778 map of the North Gate area on our Bethesda page.

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