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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