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What are your memories of Sainsbury's in Ipswich?

PUBLISHED: 16:37 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 23 May 2019

Sainsburys on Upper Brook Street in Ipswich. Picture: Su Anderson

Sainsburys on Upper Brook Street in Ipswich. Picture: Su Anderson

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The supermarket giant Sainsbury's started with one store in London's Drury Lane in 1869. And now as it celebrates its 150th birthday, we look back at its presence in Ipswich.

Stop me if you've heard this before (no, too late) but when I was a small girl, living over Chantry, in Ipswich, my nana would take me shopping in town and we would go to Sainsbury's.

Westgate Street and Tavern Street

What I didn't realise, as a tot, was that there were two branches of J Sainsbury, one in Westgate Street which later, I think, became Mac Fisheries, and one in Tavern Street, which would later be Nationwide Building Society. But I thought there was only one and because one of them had a booth at the end and one didn't, I presumed that the store was magic - sometimes the booth would be there, sometimes it wouldn't.

We would queue at the various counters for cheese and bacon. I would press my nose to the glass-fronted displays and look at the great slabs of cheddar cheese. The floor tiles and wall tiles were beautiful and visiting the shop was like stepping into a time warp - even in 1960.


Westgate Street, Ipswich, in the early 1920s.This photograph was taken from near Black Horse Lane. The shops on the right include Pearks Dairy, Oriental Café, D Gunn and Co tailors, and J Sainsbury provisions merchants. From the left are Bartlett and Company toy and fancy goods warehouse, Halford’s Cycle Company, A Jackson butcher, Ben Cuthbert tobacconist and Lipton’s tea and provisions dealers.




Westgate Street, Ipswich, in the early 1920s.This photograph was taken from near Black Horse Lane. The shops on the right include Pearks Dairy, Oriental Café, D Gunn and Co tailors, and J Sainsbury provisions merchants. From the left are Bartlett and Company toy and fancy goods warehouse, Halford’s Cycle Company, A Jackson butcher, Ben Cuthbert tobacconist and Lipton’s tea and provisions dealers.

The purchases would be wrapped in grease-proof paper and put into a paper bag.

It is worth noting that while Sainsbury's is one of our oldest purveyors of groceries, Ipswich Co-op celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2018 thus having the longest continuous grocery store presence in Ipswich, pipping Sainsbury's.

I cannot trace J Sainsbury, as it was in 1869, to its first appearance on the high street in Ipswich but the Westgate Street store, the first in the town, was certainly there in 1912 and possibly earlier. Thus it was probably among the first raft of stores to spread into the provinces. J Sainsbury Ltd came into being in 1922.

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Upper Brook Street

In 1971, the brand new Sainsbury's opened in Upper Brook Street. By now, the self-service supermarket was supplanting personal counter service. On Saturday mornings I would go to the Ipswich Youth Theatre club in Rose Lane and afterwards we would buy bread, butter and cheese from Sainsbury' and have our lunch in the much-loved but rather moth-eaten premises - long since demolished.

Warren Heath

By the time the out-of-town superstore arrived at Warren Heath, the range of goods available had extended to household, gardens and clothing. Moreover, there was a free car park...

This advert, dated January 1912, commends Sainsbury's butter to local residents at a time of the year when it is scarce. Picture: © The Sainsbury Archive, Museum of London DocklandsThis advert, dated January 1912, commends Sainsbury's butter to local residents at a time of the year when it is scarce. Picture: © The Sainsbury Archive, Museum of London Docklands

Hadleigh Road

Then came the Hadleigh Road store. Today, I shop at all the Sainsbury's - Upper Brook Street, Hadleigh Road, Warren Heath and Sainsbury's Local in Woodbridge Road, although not exclusively.

When I left university in 1976, my first job was at Nationwide Building Society and the original brown and cream (I think that was the colour) Sainsbury's tiles were still on the walls in the back room.

When I married in 1978, my husband and I would do our weekly shop in the Upper Brook Street store and walk home, laden with carrier bags. On one memorable occasion, a bottle of Ribena smashed against a lamp post, its contents splattering all over the pavement, our shopping and me.

This ad appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times in July 1938 -  note This ad appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times in July 1938 - note "delivery to your door by motor". Picture: © The Sainsbury Archive, Museum of London Docklands

Like the Co-op in Carr Street, Sainsbury's is in whichever part of my DNA that governs shopping.

Read the full timeline here

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