Kindred Spirits - sharing memories of Took’s bakery, JA Peachey newsagents and other landmarks in Whitton and Whitehouse
David Kindred shared photos of the Whitton and Whitehouse areas of Ipswich recently and readers have responded with their memories.
Took’s bakery, on what is now the Old Norwich Road and Newsteads and Betabake bakeries in White House Road, employed a large workforce and the long, hot days in baking bread are recalled.
Photographs of the shops in Meredith Road prompted fond memories of childhood and Saturday jobs for schoolchildren and teenagers. Mike Peachey, who now lives in Australia, tells us the history of his family connections with the parade of shops.
Took’s Bakery is in the centre of this aerial view from around 1970. The Norwich Road (Now the Old Norwich Road) runs from the top to the bottom. Whitehouse Road is at the top of the picture. Companies working in Whitehouse Road were Newsteads Bakeries Ltd, C.W. Juby Ltd engineers, Cantell and Cochrane soft drink manufacturers, Danish Bacon Co Ltd and Betabake bakers.
The Whitton United football ground is on the right. Did you work at any of the companies featured?
The growth of Ipswich beyond the rail bridge on the Norwich Road is illustrated by this second photograph from 1903.
There were few properties beyond the bridge then and the new electric tram service saw Whitton village connected to the town centre for the first time with regular public transport.
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Rod Cross, emailed to share his memories of this area.
The aerial shot of Took’s Bakery in Whitton reminded me of my first-ever holiday job back in the mid 1960s, when I successfully completed a six-week stint there, he writes.
I must confess though, that having been more used to sitting passively in a classroom, it seemed more like six months!
At least the factory was clean, light and airy, having been built post-war, probably in the 1950s. Its founder was Charles Ernest Took, whose original baker’s shop was at the far end of Felixstowe Road, in the parade of shops opposite St Augustine’s Church. He could hardly have built his factory much further away and still remained within Ipswich!
When I was growing up, Took’s rivalled Newsteads and the Co-operative as the biggest bakery in town and ran a whole chain of shops. There was a demand for casual employment to cover summer holiday leave, which was where I came in.
My days began at 7.30 a.m. when I would cycle into town and then make my way along the entire length of Norwich Road. I had to arrive by 8 o’clock to clock in. Two minutes late was grudgingly accepted; three minutes late and half an hour’s pay was docked.
Once there, I donned my unflattering long white overall, walked past the section where cakes and fancies were decorated and headed for the bread department. The first task of the day was to arrange small pieces of roll-shaped dough on to baking trays. A moulding machine churned these out in a whole variety of shapes and sizes, depending on whether they were to be bridge rolls, hot dog rolls, baps or whatever else might be required in the shops next day. It was mind-numbingly boring, but Roger the charge-hand made sure there was no slacking. He worked at a maniacal pace himself, rarely looking up or speaking to anyone. I marvelled at how he kept it up non-stop for two hours.
When each tray contained its correct number of embryonic rolls, it was placed in a rack which, when fully loaded, had to be wheeled off to the prover. This resembled a steam room, where the yeast in the dough caused it to rise and become aerated. Visiting the prover provided the only relief to the tedium of ‘traying up’. I would try to time it so I loaded the last tray in the rack and so got the job!
After our ten minute break, we moved on to bread-making. The machine was re-set to create large, loaf-shaped lumps of dough and having first greased each of four conjoined tins, we then filled each one with its wobbly contents. Being inexperienced, my loaves often had imprints of fingers and thumbs where I had gripped the malleable dough too tightly. I reasoned this gave them a bit of character and besides, nobody would see them anyway! Like the rolls, the loaves also had to be ‘proved’, so there was the opportunity for another little break if one got the timing right.
Lunch was at mid-day and lasted just half an hour. I was used to an hour and a half for lunch at school, so this seemed pretty stingy. There was just about time to grab some crisps and a chocolate bar from Whitton Post Office on the opposite side of Norwich Road and it was time to start again.
The worst job of the afternoon shift was tending the dreaded bread oven. This took the form of a massive steel conveyor belt that rumbled through the oven at about 200°C, carrying with it, the loaves we had prepared earlier. When the crusty brown bread emerged from the fiery furnace, it had to be removed from the tin, sent on its way down another conveyor belt and the tins stacked ready for the next day. Unfortunately, about 20 loaves came through at a time and many were stuck to their tins and had to be shaken or prised out. The tins, of course, were also burning hot. Although hessian gloves were provided, there was the ever-present danger of hot metal making contact with unprotected skin, whilst the temperature created by the oven meant one sweated incessantly. I must admit, I counted down every minute until my turn was over!
At 4.30, we were finished for the day and the long cycle ride home came as a blessed relief. I felt I had earned my pay which, with Saturday morning included, was about £8 for a 44 hour week. It wasn’t much but, at least, it provided me with an insight into what it was like to work for a living’.
Meanwhile, Mike Peachey, from Perth, Australia, wrote about his family newsagents.
The feature about Whitton mentioned our family newsagents J. A. Peachey Ltd, he said.
My father started there with our first shop in 1954, and we lived above the shop for around four years. After a while the shop was extended on a couple of occasions, so much so, that we moved out of Meredith Road because of the now lack of living space. Our family owned the business until I moved to Australia in 1986 and the business was sold. While I was living at Meredith Road, I went to Whitton Juniors and then Westbourne School. I also did a paper round for two years delivering newspapers to Burns, Browning and Kipling Roads. I wonder now how many paper boys and girls did paper rounds during that time, it must of literally been hundreds.
Where the service station is now on the corner of Meredith Road, it was just waste land, and local kids had a cycle speedway track carved out of the landscape, albeit it was triangular in shape!
While we also lived at the shop, the Safe Harbour was under the management of the Jarrold family, and that is where I became friends of Stuart Jarrold, the Anglia TV and commentator. Behind the Safe Harbour there was a bowling green. I am still involved in Speedway, being the Treasurer of the Pinjar Park Speedway Club in Perth Australia. Pinjar Park is where Cameron Heeps rides when home in Australia and learnt his craft from a very young age, and famously is where Tai Woffinden also rode from a junior until he came to England and then won the World Championship. Tai’s father Rob helped build the track in Perth and is still remembered with the pit area named in his honour. I also until recently continued with my snooker interests, having served on the Board of the World Confederation of the Cue Sports and Vice President of the International Billiards and Snooker Federation’.
And Angie Phillips (nee Sillett), born 1960, shared her memories.
I was born in Spencer Road and would have been present at the Junior school dance, she writes.
My dad Sid Sillett was a regular at the Whitton Crown. He died in 1992 and we often joke he took the pub with him. My mum Violet Sillett was a dinner lady at Whitton Infants School for many years and my sister Margie worked at Atwoods in the sixties. One of my tasks, as young as 10 years old, was to go to Perkins and get a gallon of paraffin for our heater. What would the health and safety issues be now! I also smiled at the picture of the young person crossing the road as we were told to ask a “nice looking” adult to cross us over and run fast when they said go. Many thanks for this walk down memory lane.’
Sharign her memories, Maggie Harris wrote - I lived behind the shop (‘Sparkies’) opposite the Maypole public house, not far from there a lady used to sell vinegar. We had to take our own bottle it was my job to fetch it for pickling. I was nine when we moved to Spencer Road not far from the Safe Harbour public house. I went to Whitton Junior School and my mum was a lunch time supervisor there later. I had a Saturday job at the Bendix Launderette. I worked at Attwood’s shop when I left school then went on to work at Took’s bakery on the Old Norwich Road before marrying and moving to Kent. The family has been known to use the Crown public house!
Share your memories by emailing David Kindred