streets are littered with posts, boxes, signs and bollards to which
someone once gave the rather flattering term: 'street
furniture'. Bits and pieces of kit which are of varying
usefulness and aesthetic merit plus baffling objects which are,
unknown in their
utility. Some of these embody lettering.
Street furniture can be found
on some of the other pages on this website; for example, a full roster
of surviving (as of 2014) tramway
poles on the St Helens
207 Woodbridge Road
(corner of Woodbridge Road and North Hill Road)
Looking more like a postmodern art installation, this postal box was in
use for as long as the 207 Woodbridge Road was in use as a post office.
always a dangerous stop-off for the Royal Mail vans on the corner at
the foot of Albion Hill, opposite the Duke
of York public house; the
drivers probably don't miss it. We think it closed down in around 2000,
if not before. The 'VR' peeking over the plastic strip which blocks the
letter slot stands for 'Victoria Regina' (meaning Queen Victoria in
Latin) and indicates that the wall box was probably made at some date
from 1885 onwards (see below).
Connaught House 1887
The history of postal boxes is a huge study all its own and a quick
check on the internet will demonstrate the complexity and variety.
Suffice to say that, rather than try to extract the box from the rather
weak-looking brickwork, the Royal Mail must have decided to blacken the
familar red colour, remove everything they could and block the slot. It
is also clear from the vertical breaks in the wall that a longer box
may once have occupied the site.
Julian Stray, of The British Postal Museum & Archive responded with
the following information:
'The black painted box means that it has now been withdrawn from use.
... They are Ludlow boxes (and Cole and
Carpenter), for that is what the box is. As you can see, it has also
had an addition to the front face at a later date.' The image to the
right shows what the lettering and royal crest would once have looked
like when the box was 'live'.
James Ludlow and Son of
were very prolific and hold a unique place in postbox history. For more
than eighty years they were the main supplier of "economy" wall boxes
for use in sub-post offices. This came about because any person taking
on the role of Postmaster at an sub-post office without a pre-existing
box was required to provide one at their own expense! This led to some
rather wonderful locally made boxes, known as Carpenter's Boxes, coming
in to use. To authenticate them, they were frequently adorned with an
official Post Box plate which resembles those used on the Ludlow boxes.
This information comes from Steve Knight's fascinating website.
St Peter's Street/Silent
We get the impression that this attractive Victorian pillar box
appeared fairly recently on this corner. We recall first seeing it
several years ago with one of them new-fangled 'modern'-type post boxes
with rounded-off corners nearby. The latter has been removed. Any more
information on this gratefully received.
The aperture of this beautiful piece of street furniture has been
partially gagged by a nasty slotted dark grey plate with two bolts (see
defunct example above). We can only assume that the Post Office didn't
appreciate the objects being placed into it, or is it that since extra
charges were imposed on larger/thicker mail, they wanted to ensure that
only small letters and postcards are posted inside? Neither explanation
is wholly satisfactory.
The central royal crest is flanked on opposing faces of the hexagonal
'POST ... OFFICE'
with the centred 'VR' insignia beneath
Steve Knight website cited above tells us that this is apparently a
'Penfold', which is an exact replica of a Victorian hexagonal pillar
box of 1866, named after the architect J. W . Penfold. This suggests
that it was installed by the Post Office in this ancient part of town
(close to what was to become the site of Cardinal Wolsey's statue in
also to Curson Lodge which can be seen
behind the first full-length
image of this box) to add an 'historic' flavour.
A few yards outside the Lloyds arch stand two Royal Mail boxes.
The first is a moder, plastic affair for franked mail. The second is of
more interest as it is an oval double post box in cast iron painted in
the traditional pillar box red and black: a modern Royal Mail branded
EiiR Type C double aperture pillar box.
The twin slots of the oval box used to be intended for first and
second class mail, but it looks if this distinction isn't made here. At
the rear of the box is the manufacturer's mark and date:
Machan Engineering is a young foundry in Denny, Stirlingshire:
"As well as street furniture, Machan also manufactures all the post
boxes for the post office in the UK, supplies British Telecom with
parts for the old red telephone boxes and refurbishes old red telephone
boxes which are sent all over the world. So, next time you see a post
box, red telephone box or item of street furniture, think Machan
This example is situated at the side of the Monsoon shop at 33
The manufacturer's name is in relief capitals around the front
skirt of this double aperture pillar box:
'POST ... OFFICE
McDowall Steven had their roots amongst the founders of the cast
iron industry in Scotland in 1804. Many pillar boxes bear the company
stamp, most of these originating from the period when the company
relocated to Falkirk, taking over Laurieston Ironworks around 1912. See
also our Museum Street page.
MCDOWALL STEVEN & CO LTD
LONDON & GLASGOW'
'GR' (George Rex) refers to King
George VI who ruled from 1936 to 1952 following the abdication of his
brother, Edward VIII
The song by 1960s West Coast psychedelic
funsters The United States of America
Stranded in time could have been written for
this location. This substantial cast iron, Elizabeth
II pillar box used to serve all the dockside businesses
down this side of the Wet Dock and Cliff Quay (see our Wet Dock map for location). It stands
opposite the Ship Launch public house (at the time of photographing,
The Ship Launch Chinese Restaurant and Bar) and the mid-19th century
cottages beside it which appear on the The Ipswich Society's (see Links) original Local List book. One can only
wonder how many letters and postal packages are collected by the Post
Office from this box.
The casting at the back of the base bears the name of the
manufacturer; it differs from the 'Machan' lettering shown on the
Lloyds Avenue box, shown above. Almost impossible to photograph, after
some research we can confirm that the cameo lettering reads:
Just across the road is the excellent '1919
RANSOMES' lettering on a brick warehouse.
Carron Company, an ironworks
established in 1759 on the banks of the River Carron near Falkirk, in
Stirlingshire, Scotland, was to become one of several foundries
pillar boxes (and was one of five foundries casting Sir Giles Gilbert
Scott's classic red telephone boxes – see below).
Henley Road. Once a very familiar feature
of our towns,
cities and villages, the K6 telephone kiosk designed by Giles Gilbert
Scott in 1926 for The Post Office is becoming more common as a private
garden feature than a utilitarian piece of street furniture. Here is an
example of a telephone kiosk outside The Greyhound public house in
Henley Road, which must date from before 2011, we think.
Photograph courtesy John Norman
Here we are in 2013 with a few sad weeds and a darker, unpointed patch
of brickwork marking the former location of the kiosk. As far as we are
aware, there is only one K6 with a working public telephone in Ipswich
and that is outside County Hall. An
unsung survivor, albeit in 2014 with neither telephone nor door, is
to Stoke bridge. 1980s photographs of
it appear on out Trinity House buoy page.
[UPDATE 20.5.2014: We have
received a series of photographs of the
removal of The Greyhound box, soon to be on its way to the great
telephone exchange in the sky.]
Lincoln's Inn Fields. Central London seems to care more for
phone boxes better than most and this
collection, presumably assembled deliberately rather than having
evolved at this site, can be found in Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn
Fields: two 1924
'K2' boxes flank a pair of 'K6' boxes with recent (and rather invasive)
stone seating and
cast iron bollards.
Jeffries Road. At first we assumed that this odd,
corroded little box at the
corner of St Helens Street and
Jefferies Road was connected to the Ipswich
Tramway system, evidence of which still exists in the form of power
line poles in the area. A forgotten,
decayed piece of street furniture, in ascending order of readability,
the lettering is:
13.1.2014 – Gordon Pugh
writes: "Just saw on your site the pic of British Relay, could it be to
do with this TV service
Thanks to Gordon we now find that:"An option available to Cambridge
[and Ipswich?] people that did give a little more choice of TV
entertainment was an early form of cable or "wired" television called British Relay, which had arrived
here in 1962. British Relay TV sets provided a clear, "electronically
perfected" reception, the chance to view the London ITV service (which
often provided a "regional variation" in programmes and news) and a
built-in radio. Black British Relay cables stretched between houses and
small round adaptor boxes soon became a familiar sight to Cambridge
residents. British Relay was taken over by a company called Visionhire
c. the late 1970s. You could rent British Relay radio and television
sets from this company at least until the early 1980s (I'm not
absolutely sure when the service ceased), although the TV/radio
combination sets were being phased out. We were still renting a
combination set in 1981." Andrew B.]
Bramford Road. Gordon adds that there are some round junction boxes
which may be
related to British Relay TV still to be found beneath the eaves of
houses on Bramford Road and in the form of a loop of cable further down
that road. Presumaby, as long as they are not in the way of repainting
or repointing work, they are not worth the trouble of removal. Part of
broadcasting history of which many, we
assume, are unaware. There is an informative web page about British
Relay (see Links).
Above: round junction boxes above 27/29 Bramford Road; loops
(and triangular boxes nearby) around 239 Bramford Road.
A similar green box can be found in Fuchsia Lane.
Nestling beside a small brick pillar close to the corner of Fuchsia Lane and Cauldwell Hall Road is a British Relay
box in somewhat better condition.
Another stands beside the parking restriction post at the bottom of
Warwick Road (also in the photograph: 'Grove
Bakery'); it has 'BRITISH RELAY' picked out in white paint.
[UPDATE 16.11.2014: "Just found
your website which I found very informative. On the British Relay TV
system, as you and correspondents have stated it was a cable radio/ tv
service that operated around the town from the late 1950s.
Both my parents, grandmother and several relatives in the Bramford
Lane/Bramford Road/ Whitehouse estate areas had this service and
from memory on the radio side of the dial 1-4 you could get radio's
1,2,3 and radio Orwell. on the tv side 1=BBC1, 2=London ITV (later
Channel 4) 3= ITV Anglia and 4=BBC2 - i imagine these channel number's
on the tv side were in the order the stations arrived in.
I can also tell you the service stopped around 1985/86, Visonhire who
had taken over the service sent a letter to every customer informing a
changeover to aerial televisions and from memory at my grandmother's
house on bramford Lane the Aerial contractor arrived and erected it
while the same day a visionhire engineer arrived and installed a
standard Phillips TV. I remember seeing a load of old British Relay
sets in a skip at their dales road depot around this time
There are also several manhole covers around the town (one near the old
police station on civic drive) in addition to the several 'green boxes'
on street corners as well as the boxes on the houses you have
published. My uncle who lives in my gran's old house still has the
socket in the living room!
For those interested I have started a facebook page on BRW under
'British relay Wireless -remember them?'. Hope this is informative.
many thanks - Darryl Tester" Many thanks to Darryl for this
Water valve markers
Ivry Street. These medallions are quite common on
Ipswich walls. This is the
corner of Henley Road and Ivry Street.
We're not sure what the letters in either side signify: 'HS' is
common, but 'LH' and 'LS' used to feature on those seen in Bridge
Street. A collection of such signs can be seen at 170 Foxhall Road (see
Orianda Terrace on our Rosehill house
names page). They
indicate the position of valves on the water mains and are of late
nineteenth or twentieth century date and other examples are recorded on
our Bridge Street page, but have been
removed. Another of these can be seen up the hill from here: near the
corner of Henley Road and Park Road and yet another in Upper Orwell Street.
Corporation Water Works)
Having made a page for this site based on the ground-level
furniture on the Island of the Wet Dock, then the northern quays and the former Ransome's orwell Works site, we started to
notice the drain, hydrant and manhole covers on Ipswich streets. This
is the first example of ground-level street furniture in Ipswich to be
added to the site, with more to come, we suspect.
Woodbridge Road. The first cast iron cover is sited in the
pavement outside 228/230
Woodbridge Road, not
far from the corner with North Hill Gardens.
The second cover is further down on the same side of Woodbridge
Road, outside number 150 (on the corner with Palmerston Road). It shows
decidedly more wear and damage (see close-up). The lettering is the
same apart from the lower word 'Hydrant' replacing 'FP'.
J.BLAKEBOROUGH & SONS
Fore Street. The third example (above) shows another ICWW
cover outside number 73
Fore Street, in better condition than the second, but with slightly
J. BLAKEBOROUGH & SONS LTD
During recent repaving of the
area around Fore Street Pools and the Lord Nelson public house, this
cover, set at an angle to the line of paving was left in place and
concreted round. Good work. Thanks to Colin Gostling for drawing this
one to out attention.
ICWW refers to Ipswich Corporation Water Works. Ipswich Water Works
Company was a private company, its directors members of the local
Cobbold and Orford families. Its operations were based in Back Street
off of Fore Street (later renamed Waterworks Street which
now runs from Star Lane to Bond Street) in
the St Clement district of the town. Just south of the Water Works the
map shows Ransome's Lawn Mower Works – the
building now now
known as The Foyer fronting the 20th century extension to Star Lane. In
1892, an act of parliament
enabled the Ipswich Borough corporation to purchase the Ipswich Water
effectively making it a council department (hence 'ICWW'). In 1973 it
became part of the Anglia Water Authority, one of the ten regional
public authorities set up to control all aspects of water management.
It was privatised in 1989. Towns can only flourish with a clean
wholesome supply of drinking water and the Corporation (and others)
have been supplying the town for over 800 years, initially with piped
water from springs close to the Wilderness Pond in Christchurch Park,
but in Victorian times from springs in the Cauldwell (cold
well) Hall area, with water piped to Waterworks Street
where there was also a
bored water supply.
'FP' is likely to stand for 'Full Port (valve)', although we're open to
This section from an 1881 map clearly shows St Clement Church ('The
Mariners' Church') and to the north, Ransome's
Lawn Mower Works and the
Water Works and reservoir above it.
The 'Sunday School' marked on the west side of Waterworks Street, on a
line with Albert Street, must be the Ipswich Ragged
Boys' School. We see from the map that Waterworks Street once
turned a right-angle and ran along the side of St Clement Church
graveyard. Reshaped and renamed 'Star Lane' under the Eastern Gyratory
traffic system, this is commemorated by the unusual street nameplate on
the corner with Grimwade Street:
J. Blakeborough & Sons Ltd were a large engineering company
established by Joseph Blakeborough in 1866 and whose core business had
been the design and manufacture of industrial water valves. Most of
this work was specialised and of bespoke manufacture for the control of
liquid flow. They had a large works and foundry at Brighouse in West
Yorkshire that included ancillary works which in addition to their
valves, also made cast-iron fire hydrant and manhole covers as well as
fire fighting equipment during the 1920s and 1930s. During World War 2
(early 1940s) the company used their foundry to produce track links for
British made tanks. In 1965 the company was bought by Hopkinsons
Holdings of Huddersfield, also specialists in the manufacture of
industrial valves. The fortunes of Blakeborough’s became more uncertain
and a devastating fire in 1986 made their situation worse. In 1987 a
partnership was formed with Wolstenholme Valves, a recent company set
up by Chris Wolstenholme and a subsidiary of Hopkinsons Holdings at the
time. The Blakeborough works at Brighouse was closed on 12th April 1989
all drawings and intellectual rights transferred to Golden Anderson
Valves, Hopkinsons and Blackhall Engineering, who were all part of the
Weir Group plc. Although valves ceased to be made under the
Blakeborough name, these companies retained the drawings and rights to
supply spares, maintain and refurbish old Blakeborough valve systems
still in operation.
Bond Street. Another cast hydrant cover can be found on the
pavement at the corner
of Bond Street and Rope Walk. This features a local foundry:
C MILLS & CO
ST NICHOLAS FOUNDRY
This striking example of ground level lettering is in remarkable
condition. It is very fitting that it is situated at the top of
Waterworks Street. See our Dockside at
ground level page for further 'C. Mills' examples and a note about
Above: Waterworks Street cottages and the commemorative plaque.
See also our web page on Water in Ipswich for
a photograph of the ICWW Thurleston Lane pumping station, built in 1919.
More ground level
596 Foxhall Road. "This is an early 1920s
cover. What is interesting is that there were only 5 houses built by my
grandfather so it must have been a local supplier who was able to
customise the covers.
It is in the middle of the drive near the front gates. We had two of
these – one at the house end as well but it was broken when a lorry
backed onto it in the 1960s. I think it is the only one left as a
check of the other houses from the
road to the corner of Chilton Road shows they have all modernised the
drives and replaced them.
My grandad was Harry Buss. - Jen Greatrex" Many thanks to Jen for this intriguing bit
of advertising matter; the uneven lettering suggests that this is a
custom-made cover by a local foundry.
courtesy Jen Greatrex 2014
'BUSS WEBB & SON LTD
Similarly, round the corner in Chilton Road where there are four
of these, all from the same builder, in close proximity. These
are on 1930s drives.
courtesy Jen Greatrex 2014
High Street. Close to the corner of High Street and Crown
the High Street pavement is an example of a curious modern drain cover
which has been spotted elsewhere in the town. An oval cover set into a
surround: it's quite small and easily missed.
192 Woodbridge Road
a cast Fire Hydrant outside on
the pavement (and it came all the way from Exeter: couldn't they find
any iron founders nearby?):
PATENT NO. I421734
DRAIN RODDING POINT'
'GARTON & KING LTD.
Not far from here is a very worn cast cover for a cross-pavement
drain bearing a very worn: 'C. MILLS & CO. IPSWICH'.
This foundry name can be found on several covers on The Island at the Wet Dock and in
Derby Road (below).
21.2.2014: 'Hi there - saw your website on Iron and Street Furniture
etc in Ipswich – Glad to see Ipswich was a customer of Garton &
King – have you seen the website
on the History of the Company – goes way way back to 1661! [see Links] Regards, Richard Holladay' Many thanks to
Richard for these two examples of the company's output; the website has
a fascinating story of the company. Captions as
supplied by Richard.]
Large rectangular on NDWB installation
Merrifield X on B3254
EDWB - everything facing the right way sq
[We assume that 'EDWB' is Exeter District Water Board.]
It really is extraordinary how many elements are cut
through our road and pavement surfaces. During a recent stroll in
Crabbe Street, we lost count of the number of small circular (mainly
plastic) covers in the pavement. Water, gas, electricity, traffic
lights, telephones, cable services and some we can only guess at can be
spotted at various locations, particularly close to residential
Felixstowe Road area. A stroll around the Rosehill
area reveals the wide variety of
pavement and road level lettering on inspection and manhole covers. The
in Felixstowe Road displays the familar 'surface of the moon'
damaged concrete centre.
appears in the centre of a rather new-looking cover (see above
for information about Ipswich Corporation Water Works).
Just to give the lie to first impressions, the above left
slightly battered, rusting cover bears the inscription on each side:
In Derby Road is another cover with diagonal split
BS5834:PT2 300AN GRADEA'
So, a very modern cover with its
World Wide Web address. Much more workaday and to the point is:
A more modern take on the
BS 5854 PT2
The older cover above right used
but the latter word has been covered by a recent concrete
'WATER STOP TAP' cover.
The road manhole cover above right features:
'MILLS & CO
which is a foundry name also seen on the manhole covers on 'the island' at the Wet Dock and on
Woodbridge Road (above).
These two covers stand on the south-western pavement crossing at
the Derby Road / Cauldwell Hall Road / Foxhall Road junction. We're
back to the familiar lumpy metal surrounds and grainy concrete centres.
This time the lettering harks back to the days of wireless telegraphy.
The General Post Office (GPO) was officially established in England in
1660 by Charles II and it eventually grew to combine the functions of
state postal system and telecommunications carrier. In 1980 the
telecommunications and postal sides were split prior to the splitting
off of British Telecommunications into a totally separate publicly
owned corporation the following year as a result of the British
Telecommunications Act, 1981. Yes, 'The BT Research Station', a
national centre built on the former airfield at Martlesham Heath was
for many years known as 'The Post Office Research Station'. Nowadays,
people call it just 'BT' which removes a great deal of the resonance of
the name. When new forms of communication came into existence in the
19th and early 20th centuries the GPO claimed monopoly rights on the
basis that like the postal service they involved delivery from a sender
and to a receiver. The theory was used to expand state control of the
mail service into every form of electronic communication possible on
the basis that every sender used some form of distribution service.
These distribution services were considered in law as forms of
electronic post offices. This applied to telegraph and telephone
switching stations. In the mid 19th century several private telegraph
companies were established in the UK. The Telegraph Act 1868 granted
the Postmaster-General the right to acquire inland telegraph companies
in the United Kingdom and the Telegraph Act 1869 conferred on the
Postmaster-General a monopoly in telegraphic communication in the UK.
The responsibility for the ‘electric telegraphs’ was officially
transferred to the GPO on Friday, 4 February 1870. Overseas telegraphs
did not fall within the monopoly. The private telegraph companies that
already existed were bought out. The new combined telegraph service had
1,058 telegraph offices in towns and cities and 1,874 offices at
railway stations. 6,830,812 telegrams were transmitted in 1869
producing revenue of £550,000.
'Tele': from the Greek afar / ata distance, 'graphein': to
write. An apparatus, system, or process for transmitting
messages or signals to a distant place, especially by means of an
electric device consisting essentially of a sending instrument and a
distant receiving instrument connected by a conducting wire or other
For more ground level lettering see 'the
island' on the Wet Dock; a page of the ground level dockside furniture
to be seen on the northern quays. Further round the dock
Orwell Works site with remnants at ground level. An interesting
cast, glazed manhole cover can be found in Museum
Telephone. The name
was coined in 1835,
"apparatus for signaling by musical notes" (devised by Sudré in 1828),
from French téléphone (c.1830), from the Greek télé- "afar" + phone
used of other apparatus in the early 19th century, including
"instrument similar to a foghorn for signalling from ship to ship"
(1844). The electrical communication tool was first described in modern
form by P.Reis (1861); developed by Alexander Graham Bell, and so
called by him from 1876.
Foxhall Road, petrol pump
The elderly petrol pump standing in front of Ruskin
Lifting Engineers Ltd at 84 - 86 Foxhall Road just about counts as
street furniture, even though it's probably technically on private
land. While in 2013 'Ruskin Lifting Engineers Ltd' (standing opposite
the jaws of Ruskin Road) is still a going concern, one doubts whether
the pump still functions...
The dial bears the numerals 0 to 19 then 'GALLONS' (with a small 'HALF
GALLON' beneath the numeral 10). This suggests a 'clock face' display
with two rotating hands: the smaller making a complete sweep for a
gallon and the larger registering the number of gallons. The
manufacturer's name in a cursive script: 'Avery-Hardoll' sits below the
centre. At the top in capitals:
'SEE THAT BOTH HANDS ARE AT
ZERO BEFORE DELIVERY COMMENCES'
For a classic piece of street furniture now fast disappearing, see the
K6 telephone kiosk near Stoke Bridge.
See also our St Helens Street page
for examples of street fruniture which relate to the old Ipswich