The Hidden Lettering of St Helen's Street, 'ITFC' & 'bicycle'

Argyle Street/St Helens Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: IBH a
Around 2008 Ipswich Borough Council put up rather attractive fencing around two sets of flats in Woodbridge Road (above Blanche Street) and Argyle Street/St Helen's Street. This would be unremarkable if it wasn't for a piece of hidden lettering in a section of the fence with closely barred and shaped rods, set at 45 degrees on the juction of Argyle Street and St Helens Street. The image of the 'normal' view is unexceptional. Drivers queuing down Argyle Street during the inordinate hold-ups during the rush-hour are probably the most likely to spot:
in the grille, but you have to be at the correct angle from either side.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: IBH 2
What is most surprising is both that the designer took the trouble (presumably he or she was commissioned by Ipswich Borough Housing***) and that it works so well in a bold serif font: all achieved by slight tweaks and flattening in the vertical bars. Clever, eh? It is possible that many people walk past and don't see this lettering regularly - always an attraction for this website - and the streams of high speed traffic on this junction distract passers-by as they try to ensure (a) their own survival and (b) safe passage across the road.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: IBH 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: IBH 42015 images
[UPDATE 21.1.2016:
Des Pawson of the Museum of Knots & Sailors Ropework (see Links): "The chap who developed in the early 1980s the fencing system was Stuart Hill who was a blacksmith at Claydon. An Artist Blacksmith he once had a show at Christchurch Mansion.  I think he now lives on an island off the Shetland isles!"]
[***UPDATE 4.12.2020: 'I have very much enjoyed reading your article about lettering in the railings put up by Ipswich Borough Homes, particularly as I used to work there and remember those railings being organised.
It's great that Des remembered Stuart Hill was the blacksmith – the reason why I am emailing is both to express my appreciation of your website, but also to say you may wish to include a link to the Wikipedia page. Although it doesn't refer to his work making the IBH railings, it is an interesting story! - Juliet Freeman.' Many thanks, to Juliet for the kind words and link to the page about Stuart. Also for clarifying that 'IBH' stood for Ipswich Borough Homes.]

For more examples of lettering in Argyle Street, try Ipswich Board School and Harry Seaman; for more in St Helens Street try
County Hall, H.W. Turner, Tramway Place, Hales Chemist and  The  Regent. Whether this qualifies as 'Historic Lettering' as billed by the title of this website or not, it perhaps joins 'The Mill' lettering as newly arrrived, but here to stay for a while...

Portman Road/Alf Ramsey Way
Mike O'Donovan trumps this lettering with 'ITFC' in precisely the same wrought iron technique: "You may be interested in the attached photos which I took at the Sir Alf Ramsey Way just off Portman Road. They seem to be only viewable at an angle." We don't get round that way too much as we're not interested in football (heresy!) however, for the uninitiated 'ITFC' stands for Ipswich Town Football Club. 'Portman Road' is an expression much more associated with the sports stadium in Ipswich (see also 'The Kop', 'Whitehart Lane' etc.)
than the original meaning of the twelve 'capital portmen' to represent/govern the inhabitants under the borough charter given to Ipswich by King John in 1200.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: ITFCPhotographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan

Civic Drive/Gt Gipping Street
[UPDATE 24.1.2016: "Seeing your shots of the IBH and ITFC railings last night, I was reminded of a similar example on the pedestrian/bike path rising from Great Gipping Street to the lights on Civic Drive. Built into the first set of white railings is the imprint of a bicycle, again only visible at an angle. Nicely done like your other examples.  Be seeing you, Ed Broom". Many thanks to Ed for this tucked away symbolic example of the Artist Blacksmith's craft. Do we have the full set now, or are there more to be found?]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bicycle railings 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bicycle railings 22016 images
There is a bicycle symbol on each side panel at the bottom of the ramp (which is much-used by cyclists). This must be one of the more challenging shapes to render by the 'compressed tube' method with its simplification of frame detail and circular wheels.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bicycle railings 3

Queensway/Rands Way/Shackleton Road
[UPDATE 26. 1.2016: "Just seen, although couldn't take a picture. Roundabout end of Queens Way, off Nacton Road. Fence has "Queens Way" pressed into tubes. Is visible on Google street view. Paul S. Smith". So we could no better than go along and see for ourselves.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Queens Way 1  
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Queens Way 42016 images
Above: the angle may be correct, but little is decipherable from a few meteres away (surely the point?). Below left: seen from the centre of the roundabout, the characters are ghostly, but can be made out – probably thanks to the upper line being defined by the change of colour on the background. Below right: the view from just in front of the parked van shows 'QUEENS WAY' to its best advantage.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Queens Way 5   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Queens Way 3
Below: a companion stretch of railings, again heavily parked against and cluttered with street furniture.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Queens Way 6  
See also our Lettered castings index page.

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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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