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Ipswich Cattle Market: Then and Now

For many years, Tuesday was market day in Ipswich. The thriving livestock market saw cattle, sheep and pigs being auctioned. The streets surrounding the market area thronged with people and the numerous pubs in the area (now all closed) did a roaring trade on market day.

The Tithe gift sale at the Ipswich Cattle Market (photo by David Kindred )

Cattle Drovers

The men who worked with the livestock had a tough job. The work was hard and the conditions often unpleasant. Colin’s 1956 pastel “Cattle Drovers” depicts two cattle drovers whose job it was to drive the livestock down Princes Street, from the railhead near Princes Street bridge, towards the livestock market in Portman Road.

Colin Moss Cattle Drovers 1956Colin Moss “Cattle Drovers” 1956

“Lots of people in the period after the war, and who’d been in National Service, wore clothes they’d got in the army as uniform because clothing was rationed. One of them is wearing an ex-army greatcoat. A lot of people used to wear these gumboots with socks that came over the top of them. These men are quite typical of working men at that time. No man went about bareheaded in the street”. Colin Moss: Life Observed

From Jarrow to Ipswich

Twenty years earlier, whilst a young student at the Royal College of Art, Colin had seen the Jarrow Hunger Marchers as they walked through London. His 1936 painting “Hunger Marchers” was the first of many images he produced throughout his long career depicting ordinary men and women.  “I like to draw working-class people because they are more interesting than middle-class people”. Colin Moss: Life Observed

Colin Moss Hunger Marches 1936 Colin Moss “Hunger Marchers” 1936

The End of the Cattle Market

The cattle market was part of Ipswich’s history for centuries. Its location changed several times over the years as the town expanded. In 1856 the cattle market moved to its final site on (what was then) the town marshes, the area which is now between Portman Road and Princes Street. The last livestock market was held in the town in January 1985.


Ipswich Docks – Then and Now through the artist’s lens

The docks area of Ipswich has been used for trade for well over a 1000 years. When Colin started teaching at the Ipswich Art School in the late 1940s, the dock had yet to transform into the stylish waterfront we see today. The commercial landscape, with its wharves and warehouses, proved to be a source of inspiration for both Colin and his students.

“I used to think the Docks were the best thing about Ipswich. I used to take a lot of sketching classes of students down to the Docks, and in those days they were far more free and easy about where you could go there.” Colin Moss: Life Observed.

Colin Moss - Ipswich from the New CutColin Moss “Ipswich from the New Cut” (1950)

Yeast and Sugar Beet

Judy Foster, one of Colin’s students between 1955 and 1959, was similarly impressed. She particularly remembers “a peculiar kind of smell from the Docks, the yeast … the maltings and the sugar beet which wafted one way or another, depending on the direction of the wind.”

Colin Moss - Ipswich docksColin Moss “Ipswich Docks” (c1950-55)

A European Sensibility

“What made Colin special was that he brought a European sensibility to local art. He studied with Oskar Kokoschka in Salzburg, Austria and absorbed his very colourful view of the world. When he returned to Suffolk, he produced a series of local landscapes including views of Ipswich Docks which he executed in a very strong, vibrant style. The local people hated it – he painted these pictures in strong pinks and purples, not all the colours he was seeing – but this was the influence of Oskar Kokoschka.” Tony Coe – John Russell Gallery, Ipswich

The Waterfront Today

Over the past two decades, Ipswich’s waterfront has been transformed. Now a stylish area of restaurants, shops and apartments, and with a thriving marina, buildings from the waterfront’s rich maritime past, sit alongside developments from the new.

Ipswich waterfront today - Michael JollyIpswich Waterfront today – photography Michael Jolly