Advertising on the edge: H.W.TURNER / R.H. Kent / Hill Farm Henley / Emeny's

104 St Helens Street (H.W. Turner)
Making use of every inch of promotional space...

was obviously determined to catch the eye of pedestrians and travellers on their way down St Helens Street towards the town centre. He – it usually was a 'he' – made use of the projecting edge of the building which houses Robertson's Florist shop for a vertical sign in plain capitals on a pale-coloured painted panel with rounded corners. Just the width of an alleyway gives enough advertising space. There are centred full-stops after the 'W' and second 'R'. Just round the corner in Argyle Street see the Ipswich Board School crest/lettering and Harry Seaman sign; or travel further up St Helen's Street for building name plaques and dates, also read about the Ipswich tramways, powered intitally by horse and later by electricity, which travelled along this road.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H W Turner2000 image
Since the above photographs were taken in 2008 a high barrier has been fitted on the alleyway entrance, obscuring more of the sign. Here's a 2012 image from directly below the H.W. Turner sign showing its condition:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 12012 image
The table below shows the recorded occupiers of 104 St Helens Street, from available sources. It is perhaps a surpise that H.W. TURNER, elecrical contractor does not appear until 1960. While number 102 has been a greengrocers since 1906 to today's Robertson's – although it continues in 2014 as a florist – the trades conducted from number 104 include boot repairer, hair dresser, confectioner, tobacconist, electrical contractor, the Eyegate Bookshop, dry cleaners, alternative healing centre and model railway shop. In 2014 it is the home to an independent art gallery, The Freudian Sheep. A full table of occupants (1881 to 1975) can be found at the foot of this web page.

Two entries crop up on the table of occupants – shown below – of No. 104 St Helens Street:
-Here is St Helens Court-
-Here is St Helens Place-
Looking at the map detail and counting down four doors from the Regent Street corner, you come to the alleyway beside No. 104 (the one with ‘H.W. TURNER’ on it). Reading the Listing text (below), there is also a passage to the rear between the angled front doors of 102 and 104. Shoppers visiting Robertsons when it was a thriving greengrocery will recall the door left open and the top of the passage used variously as further display space for bananas, tomato plants, squashes, marrows etc. It would seem probable that these are the two locations: 'Court' and 'Place', i.e. humble (slum) cottages with poor or no sanitation in the yards behind 102 and 104 – the space now occupied by the present day rear extensions. The fact that sometimes no occupant is listed at all may indicate variance in the property numbering, errors in the data collection for the directory or the fact that no occupant could be found at 104 to list at the time. [Note: Grace, F.: Rags and bones is very good on the Victorian slums of the Potteries/Rope Walk area, see Reading list]

Note that this eastern end of today’s Rope Walk was called East Street and Curve Street up to at least 1902.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner map1902 map
102-104 are Listed Grade II:-
"2 shops formerly one building. Early to mid C17, altered, and extended to rear. Timber framed, rendered, brick gable walls, to left cladding timber frame, asbestos tile roofs. Central C19 axial stack. 2 cells, possibly surviving from a larger building. T plan, the rear extension added. 2 storeys. Ground floor shop windows to left and right, each with single central vertical glazing bar. Doors set at angle to each side of through passage under stack. First floor left 9-pane sash; right hand sash in similar opening, and smaller central light, both part obscured by fascia of shop front. Modillion cornice. Interior: No 102, ground floor covered, first floor apparently intact timber frame to front and rear, boarded or covered, fragments of fielded panelling reset against stack. Probably original roof. No 104. Some exposed frame with original wattle infil. Chamfered beams and joists with lambs tongue stops, but some reordered; first floor front, two, 2-light ovolo mullioned windows, one each side of former larger window, now containing C20 sash. Original stack at ground floor with quarter moulded stop chamfered bressumer." (Text from British Listed buildings, see Links)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 5   Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 5aPhoto courtesy The Ipswich Society
The 1980s view of the building shown above comes from The Ipswich Society's Flickr collection (see Links) and does, indeed, show the shop in the ownership of electrician, H.W. Turner. The sign above the shop window reads:
'H.W. TURNER (IPSWICH) LTD. Electrical Contractors'


Entry details
Stevens Directory 1881
102 Brown, J. bricklayer
      Wharn, Wm. cutler
-Here is St Helens Court-
No entry for 104
Stevens 1885
100 Water Lilly Inn
102 Brown, John G. bricklayer
104 Webber, W. brickmaker
Stevens 1894
102 Brown, John
104 Foster, Arthur boot repairer
-Here is St Helens Court-
Boot repairer
Kelly’s 1906
102 Taylor, Walter greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
106 Harvey, John Robert oil man
-Here is St Helens Place-
First mention of a long line of
greengrocers at no. 102
Kelly’s 1909
102 Cross, A.A. greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
106 Harvey, John Robert oil man

Kelly’s 1910
102 Cross, A.A. greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
104 Hazell, Joseph S. hair dresser
106 Harvey, John Robert oil man
Hair dresser
Kelly’s 1912
102 Cross, A.A. greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
104 Skilton, Alfred John hair dresser
106 Harvey, John Robert oil man

K 1913-1921

K 1922
102 Rash, John greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
104 104 Skilton, A. J. hair dresser

K 1923-1926
K 1927
102 Rash, John greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
-Here is St Helens Place-
108 Bishop, Wm. B. pork butcher

K 1928
102 Rash, John greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
-Here is St Helens Place-
106 Ross, Jas. hardware stores

K 1929
102 Rash, John greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
-Here is St Helens Place-
104 Groom, Fredl. confctnr.
K 1930
102 Rash, John greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
-Here is St Helens Place-
106 Harvey, Mrs E. outfitter

K 1931
102 Abbott, Arthur Wm. greengrocer
-Here is St Helens Court-
104 Sawyer, Walter confctnr.

K 1932

K 1933
102 Abbott, Mrs A. W. greengrocer
104 Sawyer, Walter confctnr.
No break 104-102
K 1934-1937

K 1938
(ditto) but -Here is St Helens Place-
is between 106 and 108

K 1939

K 1940
102 Abbott, Mrs L. greengrocer
104 Clarke, Jn. Tobccnst.
K 1941
102 Barker, Mrs A.W. greengrocer
104 Clarke, Jn. tobacconist

K 1943, '47, '49

K 1952
102 Abbott, Mrs L. greengrocer
104 TURNER, H.W. electrical engineer. Tel. 2365
H.W. TURNER (sign on front edge of 104 shop)
K 1956
102 Abbott, D.A. greengrocer
104, 106?
K 1960
102 Abbott, D.A. greengrocer
104 Turner, H.W. eletrcl. Contrctr.

K 1962-3
102 Abbott, D.A. greengrocer
104 Turner, H.W. (Ipswich) Ltd. eletrcl. contrctr.

K 1964-5

K 1966
102 Robertson, N.G. fruiterer & greengrocer
104 Turner, H.W. (Ipswich) Ltd. eletrcl. contrctr.
Neville Robertson starts his
business which he ran from
no. 102 until he retired in 1998(?)
Kelly’s 1967-1975
No later Kelly’s directories found
More recent occupants (with some periods on non-occupancy) of number 104 St Helens Street:-
The Eyegate Bookshop (as shown on the Listed Building entry dated 1987),
Dry cleaners mid-late 1990s(?),
Rainbow World Healing Centre c. 2000,
Scograil model railway shop,
The Freudian Sheep Contemporary Art Gallery December 2013-2016
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 1911
Above: the street looking towards the town centre from the junction with Regent Street. At this date almost every frontage was a local shop selling a wide variety of goods. The striking 'R.N.[?] STANLEY; PROVISION MERCHANT. BOTTLED BEER. WINE & SPIRIT MERCHANT.' on the corner features low-level lettering: 'WHITBREAD'S ALES & STOUT' (a change from the usual Tollemache, Catchpole or Cobbold brews) and upper wall signs (pale to the right of the street lamp) advertising its alcoholic wares including 'CLARETS & BEST VINTAGES. ... AT DOZEN PRICES [?]' .

Suggested history pre-1880
The trade directories provide an almost continuous history from 1880. But what about the 250 years before that? It is debatable whether up to 1894 this building would have been a conventional 'shop', but rather a dwelling occupied by a variety of working people. For centuries retailing was usually done from a moveable cart or stall in or near the market areas in the town centre. It is suggested that numbers 102 and 104 St Helens Street Ipswich, built c.1620-1650, constituted one reasonably high status dwelling: a merchant’s house occupied by a 'Middling Class' family (a term which came into use in the mid-18th century, around a hundred years or more after the house was built). The original house, without any shop windows, is indicated by visible beams in the interior and the large fireplaces close to the frontage of number 104. At that time it would have been standing on the outskirts of town in an area of meadows stretching down towards Fore Hamlet and the river with its shipyards. The Rope Walk, for the manufacture of ropes – mainly for the maritime industry – was nearby, but parallel with the present-day street of that name (and between today’s Grimwade Street and Waterworks Street). The area south of Milner Street was know as ‘The Potteries’ and the industry, quite long-lived, grew up here because of the local pocket of clay, dug to make pots, bricks and tiles; the ‘cliff’ between Alexandra Park and the rear of today’s Suffolk New College was caused by the removal of clay for the local kilns.
(See also our page on Ropewalks for an ancient industry in this part of Ipswich.)

The building may well have been split into two addresses around the early to mid-19th century when the surrounding housing and businesses were being developed as investments for landlords. Often poorly-built and with no or insufficient sanitation, this rapidly became a poverty-stricken, over-populated slum area with an ever-changing range of inhabitants, many moving into Ipswich from the countryside seeking employment in the docks, the large corsetry, engineering, malting, animal feed, coprolite-processing and other industries. There was pressure on larger properties to be broken up into accomodation for a number of households. Once prestigious merchants’ houses were often in a dilapidated condition; owners often threw up ‘cottages’ or sheds in the rear gardens/yards (accessed by passages through the house to the road, like the one between 102 and 104:
St Helens Court and St Helens Place) to satisfy demand for housing, however poor. This may well have been the case at 102-104. Almost all of the slums were cleared in the early-mid 20th century. See our Courts & yards page for more about this place and period.

102 St Helens Street (Robertson's Florist)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 9   Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 10
2016 images
We understand that in 2016 Robertson's is no longer a greengrocer, nor a fruiterer.

96-98 St Helens Street (Hill Farm Henley)
"Nos 96-98 is one large Grade II listed C17 building with a steep pitched concrete tiled roof with a large brick central chimney stack. The building is of painted brick and has a central C18 6 panelled door and timber doorcase. To the right of the door an early C20 shop front has been inserted with a central door between 2 plate glass windows. This property was formerly a butchers and there is a painted panel in the centre of the first floor with the legend:
Purveyors of Quality'
Immediately in front of this building is a pedestrian crossing, the lights and signage of which, detract from this good building." [from St Helen's Conservation Area appraisal & management plan.] The Listing text (see below) names this building as 'Moyes Butchers' and dates it to c.1600.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 8   Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 7
The rather odd butcher's sign (above) has a notably primitive caste in the execution of the animals: pig, bull and sheep (the pinkish lamb has a white shape of a larger sheep behind it). The Water Lily public house at no. 100 St Helens Street is seen on the left. The Conservation Area appraisal (cited above): "Next door is the Water Lily public house. A C16 building, it originally had two wings running back from the road with a carriage entrance between. The entrance has now been blocked with a part glazed door. This building is Listed Grade II for its contribution to the street scene. "
Listing text: '98 St Helens Street, Moyes Butchers. Listed Grade II.
Shop formerly house. Circa 1600. Timber framed, cased in brick, asbestos tile roofs. 2 cell lobby entry plan with additional shop entrance to right. 2 storeys. Central door of 6 fielded panels, the upper four raised, moulded architrave with simple frieze and shallow canopy. To left, 2 pane window in moulded frame, in altered opening, to right shop front with C20 door between plate glass windows. Fascia board above. 1st floor brick band, moulded eaves band . 2 first floor C20 2-light windows in moulded frames, central picture of bull. Axial stack of C19 brickwork. Interior: ground floor shop tiled over, left hand room massive chamfered cross beam and part of cornice. Stairs behind stack, clasped purlin roof with windbraces, largely intact to left, altered to right. Shaft of stack in roofspace is C19.'

[UPDATE 10.10.2021: 'Shop front, Hill Farm Henley Co. Conservation Awards Nomination 1980' is the caption on The Ipswich Society Image Archive (see Links) for the photograph of the butcher's business when still open, shown below.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: H.W. Turner 7a1980 image courtesy The Ipswich Society

60 St Helens Street ('Emeny' newsagent)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Emeny's period1970s photograph courtesy The Ipswich Society
The crossroads of Argyle Street (home of the 'Harry Seaman' sign and the 'Ipswich Board School'), St Helens Street (home of County Hall and 'Tram Way Place') and Grimwade Street (home of 'Peter's Ice Cream' and The Captains' Houses) now features only one original building: the newsagents on the south-east corner. Although largely unchanged in shape, almost all of the signs shown in the 1970 photograph from
The Ipswich Society's Flickr site (see Links) above are gone. This gable end wall is packed with news billboards at pavement level, enamel/metal signs advertising products (tobacco products and drinks), posters advertising events, not to mention the publications and packets in the shop window. In addition
there is 'Emeny' (flanked by adverts) above the window, the proprietor's name 'E.G. Petch' (newsagent & stationer) features high above the St. Julien/St Bruno signs with:
up on the white-painted gable. The interesting use of single inverted commas suggests that Mr Emeny was the name of a former proprietor, by which this shop was customarily known to the public and travellers: "You go down to the corner and turn left at Emeny's ... etc." Even the 'KEEP LEFT' street furniture signs in the foreground have gone in 2014 – the way the traffic sweeps across this junction, they wouldn't survive long (a classic case of the safety of pedestrains being sacrificed to the convenience of motorists). Only the Grimwade Street nameplate remains a constant feature.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Emeny's 20142014 image

1 Dove Street (R.H. Kent)
Now shielded by a newer building, the lettering partially covered with coloured rendering, the end wall of the fast food shop (formerly used by The Wolsey Theatre Costume Hire,
Persian and Oriental Carpets dealer, fish and chip business), opposite The Dove public house's side entrance: a corn dealer's trade sign. (Close-up below.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: R.H. Kent 12012 images
'MEA' [probably 'Meal']
Ipswich Historic Lettering: R.H. Kent 2
R.H. Kent is first listed as a corn dealer at number 1 Dove Street (formerly Dove Lane, a longer street) in 1909 and he continued right through until 1960; by then he was listed as 'R.H. Kent & Son, corn dealers'. As yet we do not know when this business closed, but it was remarkably long-lived.
86-88 St Helens Street
(R.H. Kent)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: R.H. Kent shop, St Helens StreetCourtesy Ipswich Society Image Archive
[UPDATE 7.10.2021: the redoubtable Ipswich Society Image Archive (see Links) yielded this fine photographic postcard (above) which was donated by Leonard Woolf. It shows R.H. Kent's double-fronted shop at 86-88 St Helens Street which is currently occupied by Elmy Cycles. The date is uncertain, but we would hazard 1910 to 1920, given the gentleman's panama hat and tail-coat. Is he perhaps Mr Kent himself with his dog?
'Ask for SPRATT'S PATENT CHICKEN MEAL' and 'Ask for SPRATT'S PATENT DOG CAKES' are mounted on either side at first storey level. The overall shop sign reads:
These sans-serif capitals all have a drop-shadow in a paler colour. All are separated by full stops. The window advertisements are also instructive: 'MALT and HOPS' we understand, but 'CANARY GUANO' on the door against which the man leans has got us perplexed.]

29 Berners Street (Grosvenor Hotel)
Other 'leading edge' lettering is seen at the Grosvenor Hotel at the bottom of the very busy Berners Street, on the corner with the curly, narrow Bedford Street. An old fashioned, but eye-catching advertisement, which suggests that there were other buildings situated close to the hotel building on the site of the current parking area.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Berners St Hotel2004 image
See also the Chemist in Felixstowe Road.

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