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Bramford Road, Ipswich – Then and Now

Bramford Road, Ipswich – Then and Now

An Arnold Bennett Kind of Town

When Colin returned to Ipswich in 1947, he found a town still recovering from the effects of the war. “In those days I always felt that it was like a town from the north that had somehow slipped down a couple of hundred miles and got here! It was a very Arnold Bennett kind of town.Colin Moss: Life Observed.

Bramford Road, Ipswich shops

Bramford Road in the early 1950s (Photo David Kindred)

During those early years in Ipswich, Colin often felt very lonely and isolated “because I was divorced when I came out of the army … and Ipswich is not a town where you make friends easily.”

Colin Moss Bramford Road at Night

Bramford Road, Ipswich at Night (c 1950)

Orwell Lodge

Colin found lodgings at Orwell Lodge, 233 Bramford Road, on the corner of Tower Mill Road, opposite the Bramford Road post office.  He shared the house with Miss Jolly, the landlady, and her two unmarried brothers. “I had my own lounge and bedroom, and lived there for about thirteen years, by which time I was gradually getting integrated into Ipswich society, but not with much ease.”

Bramford Road marked an unhappy period in Colin’s life. It did though prove to be a wonderful source of inspiration for many drawings and paintings. As Andrew Clarke (Arts Editor of the East Anglian Daily Times) commented in an article in 2010, “As an artist, Colin drew and painted what he saw around him. His work functions not only as great art but also as a valuable social document about what life was like in Ipswich and across the country from the late 1940s …”.

Colin Moss Window Cleaner


Bramford Road Today

In the mid-1990s, after a gap of more than 30 years, Colin decided to go back and visit Orwell Lodge. The house was now derelict and in a sad state of disrepair, as his painting below shows. The week after Colin had returned to Orwell Lodge, the house was sold. The house was then quickly demolished and replaced with a modern, three-storey block of flats.

Colin Moss Bramford Road 1995

Orwell Lodge, Bramford Lane (1995)

Orwell Lodge, Bramford Road Today

The block of modern flats that now stand at 233 Bramford Road
Photography – Michael Jolly

The Arboretum Pub – Then and Now

The Arboretum Pub – Then and Now


The Arboretum Pub, Ipswich“The one I used all through my working career was the Arboretum, opposite the art school… that was the pub which all the people who worked there used. In those days, pubs weren’t like they are now … the best food you could get in a pub was a pork pie and a packet of crisps!”
Colin Moss: Life Observed

The Arboretum Bar, 1950 (1981)

All of Life is Here

The clientele of the Arboretum in Ipswich, Suffolk was a mix of different characters. An opera singer who used to sing for the pub during the evening. Ipswich Art School lecturers and working men. And Ipswich character “Jock the Tramp”. Jock would normally either be wearing all his clothes at once or would have them around his waist. Regardless of this, he would always have a piece of string instead of a belt to hold his trousers up.

Many of the art school staff would go straight to the Arboretum during lunch or after the day had ended. Colin’s order would always be a glass of sweet white wine. When going to the pub, the staff would try and avoid the gaze of the Head of the Art School whose office overlooked the pub’s entrance.

Cold Comfort

In the 1950s the Arboretum was rather short on comfort. Every time the landlord (one Leslie Ward according to Suffolk CAMRA) would bring a bag of coal in for the “tortoise stove”, the whole pub would cheer as it was frequently quite cold!

Dating back to Victorian times, the Arboretum pub has been a part of Ipswich life for well over 150 years. It “was named after the arboretum that was designed in 1851 as a place of quiet recreation in nearby Christchurch Park” (Susan Gardiner “Ipswich Pubs”). Renamed as “The Arbor House” in 2016, it has a growing reputation as an excellent gastropub.

The Arbor House today