Talk of Tolly Follies yesterday took me back to a couple of Ipswich trips 3 years ago, and the realisation that I’ve never been in this specialist Doom Bar pub;

See the source image
Looks good, but,,,

Only an hour on the train, so I’ll be tempted to go back when things return to normal. Can there really be nothing new since 2017 ?


Norwich has the better churches, but my Dad used to take me to Portman Road to see City, United and QPR play in the ’70s.

Of course, at eleven I was more interested in Wolsey, Adnams and pargetting than Whymark and Mariner.

“Resist ye all craft”
A slice of Lavenham
Art at the docks

Back in the ’80s Ipswich was the place for vinyl rockabilly LPs and bikers playing “Stairway to Heaven“, a sanctuary from Norwich’s overrated indie scene. Not for nothing did John Peel choose Suffolk over Norfolk.

The pub “scene” is odd.

Ipswich WhatPub.PNG

Loads of pubs, but I’d struggle to name the standouts.

Dove Street Inn, I guess, and Fat Cat, the two free houses to the east of town. Briarbank Brewery Tap for the welcome. Thomas Wolsey for the beams. There must have been others to the west ?

The Arcade had Mrs-RM pleasing craft, anyway.

Arcade Street Taavern

My photos of the rest are, er, non-existent, but luckily BRAPA took some good ones; they look better on my blog than his if you airbrush him out.

Brewery Tap RIP
Thomas Wolsey (and Father BRAPA

Even before I first met Si, I knew he was a good one when he wrote;

“Ipswich was like a cross between Ely, Knaresborough and Monaco”.

He was right. The University development by the Marina is stunning.


Quite a contrast with my last (shortlived) Ipswich GBG tick, the Steamboat.

Dirty overalls

So, what do blokes talk about at 4pm in a riverside Ipswich local over pints of Camden Pale ?” I wrote.

DIY (or Don’t Involve Yourself, to me and Mrs RM), mainly. Especially painter sealant.”

And Hi-Vis

It was the grim silence between the husband and wife on the table opposite that scared me most“.

The golden hour. Lovely beer, irreverence, Punk toilets. Shaame Si missed out.


Among eastern towns, Ipswich doesn’t have folk fawning over it the way Norwich, Cambidge and Bishops Stortford do.

The only song about Ipswich I could find is this Cocker cracker.

Jarvis, of course, famously wrote about losing part of your brain in a field in Hampshire.

Well, in a field near Ipswich I had a revelatory experience with Carlsberg Export.


Don’t take drugs, kids

All it took was free beer and herring at the Export launch at Latitude for me to be won over.


A Suffolk ploughman’s

As their advert goes “free beer refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach”.

17 thoughts on “IPSWICH’S GOLDEN HOUR

  1. Ipswich is an underrated town, but I agree there isn’t really a standout pub. My favourite of those I visited was the Lord Nelson near the Marina; the Dove Street Inn was also a pretty good example of that particular style of pub. I thought the Thomas Wolsey was pretty characterless.


  2. I have wanted to end or start a trip there many times. The photos of the harbor area are quite beautiful. No standout pubs, but they look really nice overall. Accurate?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. well the standout pub for me is the Fat Cat,branch town pub of the year for the past 5 years running, but its nowhere near the waterfront area, and people who visit the town dont tend to make it out that far from the town centre that often. and west side of town is very sparse of pubs thesedays

      the Suffolk Punch actually closed a couple of weeks before the pub lockdown started, and I dont know if it or how many pubs in the town will reopen again when its lifted.

      the Lord Nelson is a freehouse now,not exclusively Adnams anymore, but still serves a selection of Adnams. Its a good beer pub but the problem guide wise in Ipswich is the allocation numbers.

      Norwich can pick 31 pubs, Ipswich can only pick 7 now as we moved a slot out to make branch allocations less Ipswich-centric, which actually means Colchester that most locals would say is not comparable to the size of Ipswich, has more guide entries now


      1. Really helpful information. Yes, Ipswich gets the short straw. I sense cask turnover and quality is on the slide in those edge of centre free houses, quite a lot of which are very quiet midday.

        The Fat Cat is only 20 minutes walk from Buttermarket, no distance at all.

        I used to walk from the station to the hospital occasionally, a proper 45 minute circuit of town. Ipswich is great urban walking.

        Fat Cat was good (preferred it to the Norwich one if honest) but I’d struggle 20 years after visit to tell it and Dove apart. Which one has the scotch eggs.


      2. its the Fat Cat with the scotch eggs,which are recommended 🙂 Dove does a good chilli though. There used to be thing in Ipswich called the Spring Road pub crawl, almost a Didsbury dozen of East Anglia if you like, that made the trek from the Fat Cat part of town to the Buttermarket more interesting, but most of those pubs have gone now

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My main impression of Ipswich comes from the film “East of Ipswich,” written by Michael Palin. Hav you ever seen it? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090990/

    Thanks for including Simon’s photos– a very helpful thing for those of us who are experiencing BRAPA withdrawal. I mean, I know I should be most concerned about all manner of vital endeavors that have been impeded by this pandemic, but mainly I am furrowing my brow at what it’s doing to yours and Simon’s ability to cross things out with your respective colors of day-glow marker. 😉


    1. Uncanny. I meant to mention “East of Ipswich” as a classic.

      Actually set in Woodbridge from memory, which I may not have been to since I started the blog.

      I actually only watched it again on You Tube. An English coming of age classic 😉

      I miss BRAPA too. We keep in touch, don’t contrary to rumour we’re not living with Duncan in a giant marker pen in Paisley.

      Simon’s early photos are better than I remember, so I’m delighted to bring them to you in improved form.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the first pubs in which I ever went was near Woodbridge, the Fox at Newbourne. It would have been 1971, I think. It was a Tolly Cobbold pub, but not one of the follies by far. It had a creosoted, shed latched door as I recall. It’s a gastro pub now, naturally, no doubt serving all the Londoners when they come out to their second homes.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Now that we have time to reflect, as I run through the memories, I’m grateful that I was able to apprehend that world, which has since slipped away, but for a few reminders..

        It wasn’t just the territories of regional, sometimes centuries-old brewing families which have gone by far. The house in which I grew up, like many, was built of bricks made from the local clay, and fired in the brickyard a mile away.

        The Fox was thronged by local agricultural workers after their day’s tilling when I last went to it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. the follies were the pubs the Tollemache brewery built as new pubs in the 1930s that matched the design of Helmingham Hall which was the ancestral home of the Tollemache family, Tolly Cobbold ended up owning plenty of pubs (arguably or at least its IMO that was their downfall) from before that from both Tollemache and Cobbold breweries, so Newbourne Fox has been around since the 18th Century as a pub, still a great pub I often call in there,and yeah probably was Tolly Cobbold as Adnams/Greene King never really had a foothold in this part of Suffolk whilst Tolly Cobbold were around

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting perspective on Tolly. I only really started pubbing late 80s, but seem to recall a lot of Tolly livery in our Fen villages (see Cottenham). Most quickly converted to Pubmaster I guess?


  5. One pub not mentioned so far is The Greyhound, just outside the town centre. A bit food orientated but still a good bet for a reliable pint of Adnams. Especially when they have the Old on. I’m Ipswich born and bred, but it’s never been a great pub town. I would concur that the Fat Cat is the best of a mediocre bunch, well worth the walk out of town
    Sad to hear about the Suffolk Punch closing. Was one of the first pubs I drank in, when they sold Trumans Mild, Bitter, Best and Sampsons and always in good condition. I think it even got in the GBG a few times. Last time I peered through the windows, a few years ago, there were no hand pumps to be seen and a distinct lack of customers. Further into town along the main road there was the Emperor, another haunt of my youth. Again, it got into the GBG at least once. Now a Tesco Express.
    Thanks for the post.


    1. Thanks for your feedback, Andy.

      You’re right, the Greyhound is worth a visit, particularly with its setting near Christchurch park and the museum.

      My last visit 5 or 6 years ago found it a bit foodie for me, as Adnams pubs often are these days.

      And yes, I remember the Emperor fondly 😉


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