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Joe and Phyl in Ipswich 1932-34

1932: Vincent Helgia 'Joe' Knott and Phyllis Alice Page marry, and move to Ipswich. Read on...

Phyllis and Joe  

In 1931, Joe Knott left his native Rochester in Kent looking for work. He worked on road-building projects in Yorkshire where he met Arthur Page, the brother of his future wife Phyllis. Arthur was another migrant worker, and Joe came back with him to East Anglia, where he met my grandmother. The photograph of them on the left was taken in Ely on the 24th April 1932. Joe went to work for British Sugar at Cantley in east Norfolk, but he married Phyllis at Ely Register Office on 15th August 1932, when he was 24 and she was just 19. Joe's address was 9 Council Cottages Cantley.

They went to live in Cantley, but a few months later in the autumn of 1932 they moved to Ipswich.The fertiliser manufacturers Fison, Packard & Prentice were building a new factory on Cliff Road, Ipswich. It would cost 200,000, and have a 75,000 ton capacity. Work began on the factory in the late summer of 1932. Joe headed south. He lodged in rooms in Tacket Street, probably above the Brand & Son department store - they let rooms to the labouring and trade classes. He then found more permanent lodgings for them both in Cavendish Street, the same street that I would live in when I moved to Ipswich in 1985, and Phyl joined him there.

More than half a century later, Phyl wrote to me in a letter that Grandad and I lived in Ipswich for a short time when we were first married but I expect it has changed a lot during the past fifty three years. We also lived in Cavendish Street at first, Grandad was helping to build a factory for Fisons. Later we moved to the Gainsborough estate where Aunt Julie was born. I remember the fare to Felixstowe was 9d in old money. Those were the days Simon when family's could live on less than 2 a week. I remember that in my early days in Ipswich I used to pass a church that played a hymn every hour on the hour on the church clock. The house (so Phyl told me) was near the bottom of Cavendish Street, near to the White Elm public house and nearly opposite the school. However, the lower part of Cavendish Street was partly destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, and the surviving houses were demolished, probably in the 1960s, although the pub building itself survived to the time I lived further up the street in the 1980s. The former school is still there today.

1932 became 1933, and early in the new year they moved to 20 Fletcher Road, a council house on the new Gainsborough estate. This house still survives today. The Gainsborough estate was under construction in the 1930s by Ipswich Borough Council as slum clearance replacement, and Joe and Phyl may well have been the first residents of this particular house. The fact that they moved to a council house suggests to me that my grandparents had plans to settle in Ipswich. The 1930s were a hard time for jobs, and they would have been grateful for the security. Their first child, a girl, was born at the Fletcher Road house, and was baptised in the first All Hallows church on Landseer Road on April 23rd 1933. But it seems that once the factory was complete, there was no more work to be had. Perhaps my grandfather found a temporary labouring job with one or other of the big Ipswich companies - Ransomes, Cranes, Tolly Cobbold, Pauls and Cranfields employed tens of thousands of workers between them, and Ipswich was one of the main industrial towns in the southern half of England. But eventually they decided that Ipswich did not have a future to offer them. Perhaps my grandmother was homesick for Ely. She came from a close-knit family, and had never left the town before her marriage.

My grandparents headed back to Ely, where my grandfather got a job working for the sugar beet processing factory there. They would remain in Ely for the rest of their lives, living at 25 Willow Walk until 1947, and then 37 Chief's Street. My grandmother died in 1990, and my grandfather died in 1996.

Fison's Cliff Road factory has since closed. There was a serious fire in 1983 which destroyed much of the plant, and then the building itself was demolished in the late 1980s. It is now a lorry depot with zonal intended use as a site for apartments, although the recession has put that on hold. The factory site is at the bottom of the road where I live now - I could walk to it in five minutes from the seat I sit in as I type this. As I cycle to work each morning, I imagine my grandfather cycling in the opposite direction, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth no doubt.

The photographs below show some of the places known to my grandparents in Ipswich as they were in the 1930s, and some as they are today. Click on the photos to see enlarged versions.

       
               




Tacket Street in the 1930s Brand & Sons

L-R: Tacket Street in the 1930s, looking east. Joe Knott probably lodged at Brand & Sons on the right hand side - you can just see part of their sign in this photograph. Joe revisited Tacket Street in 1990, but said that he did not recognise it. By then, all the buildings on the left side of this photo had been demolished for road widening.

Brand & Sons sign today. The sign for the department store survives. The building is now a night club.



Cavendish Street Cavendish Street Cavendish Street

L-R: Cavendish Street. Much of the bottom of Cavendish Street was destroyed by WWII bombing, and the rest was later subject to slum clearance. It is now home to an assortment of commercial activities. In 1932, Joe & Phyl lived in one of the houses which stood on the right hand side going up, behind Speedy.

Corner of Cavendish Street and White Elm Street. Joe and Phyl lived in one of the houses which stood where this car park is now. The derelict White Elm pub building survived on this corner when I moved into the street in 1985.

Cavendish Street higher up. The upper part of Cavendish street is still an attractive residential street, despite the awful parking problems. This photograph gives a flavour of what the part of Cavendish Street Joe and Phyl lived in looked like - apart from the cars, of course.




dwarfed Holy Trinity 1930s electric

L-R: Fore Hamlet. Cavendish Street is off of Fore Hamlet, and this would have been the way Joe and Phyl walked into town. Of course, they would recognise almost none of this. The area was substantially destroyed by German bombing, and by later slum and industrial clearance. The only building which survives from the 1930s is the music shop dwarfed in the middle of the photograph. It was the Fore Hamlet co-op, and Phyl would have done her shopping there.

Holy Trinity church, Fore Hamlet. Phyl remembered in my early days in Ipswich I used to pass a church that played a hymn every hour on the hour on the church clock.

Former electricity substation. this was built on the corner of Fore Hamlet and Duke Street just before Joe and Phyl moved to the area, and would have been a familiar sight to them. Joe would have had to pass it each day on his way to and from work. It supplied power to what was then a heavily industrial area. Today it is a Loch Fyne restaurant.



Fletcher Road old All Hallows Yvonne Julia Knott

L-R: 20 Fletcher Road. Joe and Phyl moved to the house on the right in early 1933. They may well have been the first residents. Their first child was born in this house.

All Hallows Church, Landseer Road. The church opened in 1930, and was replaced in 1938 by the larger church to the left of it. Today it is the church hall. Joe and Phyl took their daughter here to be baptised on 23rd April 1933.

Entry in the All Hallows Register. entry in the baptismal register for 23rd April 1933, recording the christening of Joe and Phyl's daughter, and confirming their address.



Fison, Packard & Prentice Fison, Packard & Prentice Fison, Packard & Prentice

The construction of Fison, Packard & Prentice Cliff Road Works, 1932-33. These archive photographs show the Cliff Road factory under construction. Joe Knott would have worked alongside the men in these photographs - indeed, he may even be in one of them himself.



Fisons Cliff Quay Works

Fison, Packard & Prentice Cliff Road Works. From the display about the works in the Ipswich Transport museum. This perspective is from Cliff Quay, with the trees of Holywells Park behind - in Joe and Phyl's time, the private house and gardens of the Cobbold family.



Fison, Packard & Prentice shed the Shiplaunch

The site today. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1983, and demolished in the late 1980s. One of the older outbuildings, in the centre photograph, survives on the other side of Cliff Road. Today, the site is a lorry depot, but the area is zoned for residential and light commercial. The last photograph shows the Victorian Ship Launch public house. By the 1930s it was almost surrounded by the Cliff Road works. We may assume that Joe had a drink in there.

                     



Vincent Helgia Knott - I - Phyllis Alice Page

Knott family story - I - Page family story

         
   

 

MY GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

KNOTT - I - BOWLES - I - WATERS - I - HARRALL - I - PAGE - I - WISEMAN - I - CROSS - I - CARTER

CORNWELL - I - HUCKLE - I - MORTLOCK - I - MANSFIELD - I - REYNOLDS - I - CARTER - I - ANABLE - I - STEARN

CHRONOLOGY - I - WHERE PEOPLE CAME FROM - I - CALENDAR

MAP OF ELY - I - MAP OF MEDWAY
MAP OF CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT

WORKHOUSES

WORLD WAR I - I - WORLD WAR II

simonknott.co.uk I home I e-mail

LIFE GOES ON