Archive for December, 2010

Tolly Cobbold’s Cliff Brewery

Listed Buildings in Ipswich: No 9 Tolly Cobbold’s Cliff Brewery

Built between 1894 and 1896 the Cliff Brewery as it stands today replaced, for the most part, the original brewery first established on the site by Thomas Cobbold in 1746. Cobbold’s brewing business had begun down the coast at Harwich but it would be at Ipswich where he and the Cobbold family would go on to establish a brewing dynasty.

Attributed to London brewery architects William Bradford & Sons the building remained largely unchanged after 1896 apart from the modernization and increase in size of the brewing equipment following a merger with Tollemache, another family run brewing giant, in 1957. By 1983 Tolly Cobbold had a tied estate of 343 pubs. If you went out for a beer in town you would inevitable end up in one of their establishments, but you’d have been advised to stay clear of the Husky Lager which, according to John Cobbold – “tasted like dog’s piss“.

John and his brother Patrick were hugely popular members of the Cobbold family and under their respective Chairmanship’s Ipswich Town Football Club enjoyed huge success on the pitch.

Although it closed in 1989 the Cliff Brewery is still a major landmark in Ipswich – best viewed from the River Orwell on the approach to the Wet Dock – and while various attempts to revive its fortunes have come and gone the listing of the site at Grade II status means that at least the building survives even if it is in a somewhat derelict state.


Football Statues

No 29 (in a series of several): Abe Lenstra (1920-1985)

Abe Lenstra

This statue of the legendary Dutch footballer Abe Lenstra – made in 1994 by Dutch sculptor Frans Ram – stands just to the right of the main entrance to the Abe Lenstra Stadium in the Friesland town of Heerenveen.

Junior and I spent a day and bit in Heerenveen back in 2007, for the Under 21 Championship game between Israel and Belgium, but a group of inconveniently placed hospitality tents, for UEFA dignitaries no doubt, and a number of muscular gentlemen in dark suits and sunglasses prevented us from getting anywhere close to the statue.

Born in Heerenveen in 1920, coincidentally the same year that SC Heerenveen (then VV Heerenveen) were formed, Lenstra made his debut for the club at fifteen. With Lenstra firing in the goals the club enjoyed an unprecedented run of success that saw them win the Northern Netherlands title nine times in a row between 1942 and 1950.

VV Heerenveen were an amateur side and while both they and Lenstra did their level best to avoid the inevitable money eventually led to his turning professional with Enschedese Boys. There he scored 89 times in 135 matches and after spells with a number of other clubs finished his career on 523 goals. One of his most famous club matches was against Ajax in 1950 when he inspired his team to overcome a 5-1 deficit and win 6-5.

Lenstra also hit the back of the net 33 times in 47 international appearances over some twenty years. WWII limited the number of caps he would no doubt have won otherwise as did his battle with the Dutch Internal Selection Committee who he would refuse to play for unless he was named in his favoured position of inside-left.

Picture from here, while more football statues can be found here and here.

[Footnote: Frans Ram, incidentally, has created an interesting and varied range of public art installations across the Netherlands including the Dike Alert Monument at Ballumerbocht Ballum on the north Dutch coast.]

The Woolpack

Listed Buildings in Ipswich: No 8 The Woolpack

Although the current, and Grade II listed, red brick frontage dates from the seventeen hundreds ‘The Woolpack’ public house first opened its doors to the public some two centuries earlier. To the north of the town centre, where Westerfield Road and Tuddenham Road converge to form Bolton Lane, the pub was once the local of the 18th century landscape and portrait artist Thomas Gainsborough who lived in nearby Foundation Street. The famed artist was also a musician of no mean repute and played the Woolpack’s pianoforte on a regular basis. The pub sign, which had hung outside the pub until 1981, was later discovered to be an original work by the artist.

It was during the 18th century that the Inn – then on the very extremities of Ipswich – became the regular haunt of traders who, in its smoke filled rooms, would have hammered out the majority of Eastern England’s livestock and poultry trades. The Woolpack was also one of a very limited number of Inn’s able to offer chilled ales during that era thanks to a fast flowing stream that was diverted, using a system of clay pipes, to run underneath the pubs cellar.

Hot Air

Today’s home game against Watford was rather suprisingly called off less than two hours before kick-off. The club’s pitch tent and hot air blower system (pictured here in January 2008) had been in use for several days prior to the game to fight off the sub zero temperatures but a small section of the playing surface in front of the Cobbold Stand had frozen and was deemed unplayable by referee Grant Hegley. So that was that. We’ll have to wait until the Doncaster game this coming Tuesday (which is also under threat from the icy conditions) to see if the Leicester win last weekend was another false dawn for Project Keane or not.

Football Statues

No 28 (in a series of several): Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

A physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known as the creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes who appeared in four novels and 56 short stories penned by the Edinburghian. The character of Holmes first appeared in “A Study in Scarlet”, published in 1887, but it is probably Conan-Doyle’s 1902 novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” that is the most well known.

There is a statue of Conan Doyle in Crowborough, East Sussex, where the author lived for 23 years, whilst the statue pictured here (of Holmes) is in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house in which he was born.

Conan Doyle moved to the south coast in 1882, where he set-up a medical practice in Southsea, Portsmouth, and while living there he tended goal for amateur side Portsmouth Association Football Club, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith. Although the club had no direct connection with the current day Portsmouth FC Conan Doyle may have been partially instrumental in its founding.

Also a keen golfer and cricketer he played 10 first-class matches for the MCC between 1899 and 1907. An occasional bowler he took just the one wicket in those ten games but a notable one though in the shape of none other than W. G. Grace the most famous cricketer of all time!

More football statues here and here.

American Bowl ’93

08-08-1993: Dallas Cowboys 13 Detroit Lions 13 (American Bowl ’93) Wembley Stadium, London

Finishing the 1991-92 season as Champions of the old Second Division meant that Ipswich would be competing in the inaugural Premier League campaign. Despite finishing 17th it proved to be a decent season for the Blue’s and included a 4-2 win against reigning champions Leeds United and a run in the League Cup (then the Coca-Cola Cup) that I was convinced would end with, at the very least, an appearance at Wembley Stadium. This was the first season that Extremegroundhopping Junior became a fully fledged season ticket holder and the icing on the cake would have been my taking him along for his very first game at Wembley Stadium.

The cup run began with a two-legged 6-2 aggregate win against Wigan, followed by a 1-0 win against Portsmouth at Fratton Park and a replay victory over Aston Villa by the same scoreline at Villa Park after a two-two draw at FPR. The quarter finals saw Town drawn against Sheffield Wednesday but after a 1-1 draw on home soil my hopes of proudly walking hand-in-hand up Wembley Way with youngster were dashed in the Hillsborough replay by a solitary Paul Warhurst strike.

The Owls ended the competition as beaten finalists (they were also beaten FA Cup finalists too) in April, 1993, a double whammy for players and fans, while I had a chance to partly make up for my disappointment by taking Junior along to Wembley that August for the ‘American Bowl’, an exhibition NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. USA born Junior would get to see Wembley with a taster of his birth countries sporting heritage thrown in for good measure.

The NFL started playing regular season games outside the USA for the first time in 2007 when a sold-out Wembley saw the Miami Dolphins take on the New York Giants but that was far from being the first time that NFL teams had gone head to head in London. The aforementioned American Bowl was a series of friendlies first staged in 1986 when Super Bowl XX Champions the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys played at the old Wembley. During the 1980’s American Football enjoyed huge success on these shores, thanks in no small part to Channel Four who started broadcasting NFL match highlights in 1982. Interest went nuclear when the Bears clinch the NFL title, with a side that included the legendary Running Back Walter Payton, Quarter Back Jim McMahon and William ‘The Fridge’ Perry.

And so to 1993. This was my first ever in-the-flesh NFL game (I’d followed the Bears religiously on TV during my years in the States) and proved to be a wholly forgettable evening. An evening that dragged on into overtime after the Cowboys and Lions had been unable to separate themselves during the regulation sixty minutes. Nine year old Junior was bored senseless (actually playing time, interspersed with time-outs, and TV commercial breaks meant that elapsed time was more like three hours) and has shown no signs of any interest in American sports since (the Chicago White Sox World Series win in 2005 aside). Well I did try. Sat at the opposite end to the Wembley tunnel we were acres away from the occasional action that did take place and didn’t even get a half-decent view of the world renowned Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

It would be another seven years before we would see Town in action at Wembley. But good things come to those that wait.

Martyr’s Memorial

Listed Buildings in Ipswich: No 7 Martyr’s Memorial

‘Privileged people could at their ease witness the various entertainments provided for them on the Cornhill. Now it would be a bull-baiting, for no animal was to be slaughtered for food without it had been baited for an hour on this arena; or again, some unfortunate trespasser, either man or woman, must be tied to a cart-tail and whipped round the town, as much apparently for the base amusement of the onlookers as for the profit of the wretched victims’

‘Soon all is in readiness, from every window eager faces are peering out, and not a coign of vantage anywhere has been overlooked. In the midst is a stake fixed to the ground, and around it wood, broom and straw are heaped.’

No, not a description of Ipswich as the pubs and clubs kick out in the early hours of a Sunday morning, but an extract from her book “The Seventeen Suffolk Martyrs” as author Nina Layard describes the scenes on the Cornhill, Ipswich, in 1546 as Kerby, an Ipswich man, is about to be burnt to death.

Kerby was one of nine Protestant martyrs from the town, and nearby villages, who, between 1538 and 1558, were tortured and burned to death. Their crime? Possession of a Bible in English! A heinous crime in the eyes of the State and Church. Worshippers were keen to read the bible in their mother tongue and there was an active trade in Bibles, produced by translators working on the Continent, and then smuggled into England through ports such as the one in Ipswich.

The Martyrs’ Memorial, paid for by public subscription, was erected in their memory in Christchurch Park in 1903, a year after the publication of Layard’s work had brought the martyr’s history to public attention.