'Symonds for Kodaks' and Carr Street
12 Upper Brook Street
Let us 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 Buttermarket and (below)
have a chequered history. Before the latter road was widened in the
J.A. Symonds' chemists shop (now an optician's premises) appeared in a
of period photographs. Such was the pressure on trading space in the
century, it was not unknown for shops and stall holders to extend their
areas of operation into the street and over pedestrian paths. Streets,
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
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
The phraseology of this advertisement (see below* for
explanation) seems at first glance rather
It was clearly designed to catch the eye of those
further up the slope of Upper Brook and Northgate Streets. Whether this
worked is debatable given the plethora of high buildings which surround
it. We hope that the signwriter involved was on danger money during the
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:
Below: an unfamiliar view from around 1900 of the top
part of Upper
Street. The viewpoint is roughly from outside the present Wilkinsons
and clearly shows the original Symonds chemists shop projecting into
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
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.
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
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
courtesy Tony Wooderson /Crafted Images (UK)
*The origins and philology of 'Kodaks'
In 1883, George Eastman startled the photographic trade with the
of film in rolls, with the roll holder adaptable to nearly every plate
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
successful product, to become Eastman Kodak in 1892. Asked about the
George Eastman replied, 'Philologically, the word Kodak is as
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
into the company name.
(The Japanese electronics company Sony gained its invented name in the
for similar reasons: short, memorable and essentially meaningless
able to be marketed without bias and adverse connotation in any
in any country.)
52-54 Butter Market
Over the jaws of Butter Market, a
stands today with swags of terra cotta fruit and flowers, pilasters and
pedimented windows on both faces
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):
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 large 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,
Below is a photograph of the Butter Market shops from the 1940s/1950s
(?), with that window at top left:
18 Carr Street
Round the corner from the former Symonds and to the right in Carr
find another lost trading name from Ipswich's past emblazoned on a
shop occupied by the
Meat-Inn. Probably the subject of unsuccessful brick cleaning
the capitals are now grey and indistinct, but very big.
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.
The Listing Grade II text: 'Shop and offices. 1888. By TW 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
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
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
courtesy Richie Wisbey 2014
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
lens). It is
so high up and so unremarkable, it's not surprising that this went
unnoticed for so long.
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.]
[Photograph courtesy Mike
[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
that Alfred Coe must have been doing quite well in 1883 as there is
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.]
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.
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 the late
1980s led to
the shopping centre 'Carr Precinct' which never really found a place in
the hearts of Ipswichians.
The Cross Keys Inn
In this postcard's narrowed-down version of the west
end of Carr Street, the buildings to the left were the Cross Keys Inn.
Carr Street was for a time known as Cross Keys Street after this inn.
The inn was demolished in the 1880s to be replaced by shops. The
radical changes were wrought bt the Carr Street Improvement Company,
formed in 1887 to buy up old properties and demolish them to allow
street-widening. Cross Key Lane is the lane that goes from Carr St to
the rear of what was known as Woolworth's
car park; 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.
Suffolk CAMRA (see Links) say that it was
where the British Heart Foundation charity shop now is, number 24. The
Cross Keys was a very ancient public house (opened before 1650) in a
very ancient street, the home of many 'Ipswich ware' pots going all the
way back to the 7th century. It closed in 1938.
For a view of this area from outside Croydon's in the 1930s, see our Tavern Street page.
You can find more Carr Street lettering on our Co-op page. See also Harold Hulcupp Withers'
connection to Carr Street.
Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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